Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family's estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom, and to introduce his sisters to London Society-his worst nightmare come to life.
He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.
Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.
Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?
|Publisher:||Locked On Love Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Blackwood Abbey, Yorkshire, England Late October, 1813
Please come home. Your father and brother are dead. Carriage accident. You are Duke now. We need you. Come quickly, Damon.
Damon Blackbourne, youngest son of Silas Blackbourne, Duke of Malford, stared at the note without seeing it. He didn't need to; he'd read it a hundred times already. He balled up the paper and threw it to the floor.
"Home?" he snarled out loud, although the room, as usual, was empty. "Home, Mama?"
He had no home. None other than Blackwood Abbey, at least — the cavernous abode to which he'd been banished seventeen years ago. Seventeen years. More than half of his lifetime — nearly two-thirds, seeing as he was now twenty-seven.
He paced the room, a library brimming with books, a place he'd long claimed as his own. Not that he'd had competition, given his only company was a few servants.
And Hobbes. Thank God for Hobbes.
A fire crackled merrily in the fireplace, its warmth soothing him. It had turned unseasonably cold for October, a cold that now seeped into his bones, freezing his soul from the inside out.
He stopped in front of the flames, their flickering captivating him. What should he do? He hadn't been to Thorne Hill, hadn't seen his family since that awful day; the day he'd turned ten and his father turned him out.
"No son of mine shall exhibit such evil behaviors," Silas had roared. "You are possessed by the devil. I cast you out. Do not show your face to me again. You are not my son."
Not even the sound of his mother's weeping had turned Damon around as he'd climbed alone into the carriage, numbness enveloping him. It was a welcomed state, the lack of feeling. It had dulled the pain of his back, which bore witness to the intense lashings his father had laid upon him, a desperate attempt to exorcise the demons Damon knew only too well.
His sisters had been mere babes in arms. They hadn't even been present. But Damon would never forget the look on his beloved older brother's face. It was the look of a boy torn — no, a man, perhaps, considering his brother at fourteen no longer had had the body of a child. Moisture had filled Adam's eyes as their father had raged, but he'd raised no voice in Damon's defense, made no attempt to stop the man. Adam had always been too dutiful for that.
Damon sighed. Should he go? Did he owe his mother — or anyone — that?
He'd never gone south, even though he'd come of age years ago. What would have been the point? And what would he have faced? More ridicule? Possibly Bedlam? His father never would have countenanced his return. Damon had been dead to Silas, dead to everyone, as far as he knew.
Except Adam and his mother, Felicity. She penned letters as often as she could, Adam less often, though both without his father's knowledge. Silas certainly had never written. But Mama told the mundane details of life at Thorne Hill, of how his brother had fared with the estate's management, how his sisters loathed practicing the pianoforte and hated their dance tutor.
He'd never had such things. A tutor came for a while — at whose bidding, he didn't know — but Mr. Jensen had long since left, disturbed not only by Damon's defiant manner but also by his rages.
For Damon had long struggled with his temper. It sometimes superseded even his odd body movements and frequently got him into trouble, which was one of the reasons he avoided company.
"Not like being exiled to Hell would assuage anyone's anger," he muttered as he reached for the glass of brandy he'd set on the side table.
Then it sank in. He was now the Duke of Malford. Unless his father had disinherited him. Was that possible? If so, his uncle, Fillmore Blackbourne, would be Duke.
And yet, his mother had written to him. Why?
Even if he were the legal heir, why would she want him back? Did she not fear he would be worse than before? Though he'd written her once, years ago, of how he'd mastered his demons, the physical ones, at least, in hopes of being called home. Had that been enough to convince her he could manage in polite society?
But he'd wanted the summons then. Not now.
He walked over to the window, staring out at the craggy moors glistening with snow. He knew in his heart what he had to do. For his mama, who'd done the best she could, he supposed, in circumstances beyond her control. For his sisters, whom he only remembered as tiny tykes who loved to pull his black hair. And for himself. To prove once and for all he was no devil. None beyond his own making, at least.
"Hobbes," he bellowed.
A short man with thinning brown hair entered the room. Stiff-backed and with his nose in the air, he was the quintessential butler, who served also as Damon's valet. Though his main role over the years had become that of friend. Despite the difference in age and status, they'd bonded, two lonely people bumbling about in this monstrous abbey, each with no family to call his own.
Still, the man loved to put on airs, to remind Damon both of his status as a ducal family's servant — and Damon's status as Lord. "Yes, my lord?"
"For Pete's sake, Hobbes. It's Damon. Damon." Or rather now, Your Grace.
"I know." The grin that cracked Hobbes's cheeks softened his expression. "It merely amuses me to bait you."
Damon smirked. "Ready the horses and coach."
Hobbes's eyebrows reached skyward. Damon nearly laughed out loud, which would have been quite the rarity, at the comical expression on the butler-comevalet's face.
"We're going to Thorne Hill."
At that, Hobbes's jaw literally dropped. He looked out at the snow-blanketed expanse of the abbey's grounds. "In this weather?"
"Why not? If I'm going back home, it's only fitting that Hell has frozen over."CHAPTER 2
Clarehaven, Hampshire, England February, 1814
Grace Mattersley pulled her pelisse robe around her as she settled into the window seat of the library, clutching a book. It would be far warmer on the settee in front of the fire, and yet somehow the window drew her again and again.
She glanced out at the high drifts of snow enveloping her family home. Normally, they'd have spent the entire winter in London for the Season while her brother Deveric, Duke of Claremont, sat in the House of Lords. But this year they'd returned for his wife Eliza's confinement, anxiously awaiting the newest Mattersley. Isabelle had finally made her appearance two weeks ago.
Grace's sister, Emmeline, was likely pacing the hallways, longing to get to town again, bored to tears in the dead of winter with only her sisters as companions. Rebecca, too, was no doubt chafing at the bit, wishing she could be out on her horse, galloping through the woods. But Grace was quite content exactly where she was. Grateful, even, that she hadn't had to disrupt her daily rituals to return to London and all its people.
Her mother, Matilda, though, was anxious to return. "We cannot miss the entire Season, after all. No, not with all three of you out now. And we must show strength in Amara's absence. Yes, yes, we must. Oh, this blasted snow!"
Mama loved every social opportunity, every chance she had to mingle with the highest echelons of London society. She relished hopes of grand matches this year for her youngest daughters, no doubt. Emmeline and Rebecca might be interested, but Grace most assuredly was not.
She flipped a page. How she disliked the Marriage Mart. Last year had been awful. If one more awkward, bumbling viscount or baron asked her to dance, she'd likely scream. Not that she minded dancing. But she did mind the men, with their hopeful, occasionally leering glances. And, oh, how dreadful, having to make conversation with someone she did not know!
What was wrong with her? Many of her friends were eager to find a match. Emmeline soaked up male attention as if it was her due. Even Rebecca giggled in delight when young lords flirted with her. But Grace?
She'd rather her heroes remained literary ones, at least for now. At twenty-two, however, she was nearly on the shelf, as her mother was prone to remind her.
She was expected to marry. That's what highborn ladies did, after all. At least in the Mattersley family. They didn't engage in trade. They didn't design houses. They certainly didn't write novels. No, a Mattersley's duty was to marry well and produce heirs.
"Managing an estate and family will keep you busy enough, my dear," her mother promised.
Grace looked down at the page. She'd read the same sentence three times over. Not that it mattered; she knew the book by heart. Ever since Eliza had brought her a copy last year, Grace read it through at least once a month. There was something about its heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, that spoke to Grace. Her spirit, her independence. Her intelligence. Elizabeth Bennet was a member of the gentry, though, not the nobility. Those of the highest society hadn't fared as well in their representation in this book, Pride and Prejudice.
Grace loved the story. But why did illness or injury have to play such a large role in securing a husband? Marianne with Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, Jane with Mr. Bingley. How absurd.
On the other hand, had Eliza not done the same when she'd fallen in that dreadful accident? She'd been unconscious for days, but that event had knocked sense into Grace's brother and made him realize his feelings for this odd American, this distant cousin of theirs, ran far deeper than familial. Not so absurd after all, then.
"Perhaps Mama will suggest I walk in Hyde Park during the rain. Although a cold would redden my nose, I suppose, and no suitor would find me attractive then." She pressed her fingers to her lips; she'd been speaking to an empty room again.
"Always talking to the air, silly goose," Emmeline liked to tease her. It didn't bother Grace; she preferred empty rooms to crowds of people. Crowds made her uncomfortable.
The door burst open and Emmeline ran in. "I should have known you were here, sister," she exclaimed. "I'm so bored. Will this winter never let up?" She plopped down on the settee with a huff, throwing her head back against the piece of furniture in dramatic fashion. "There's nothing to do!"
"You could read."
Emmeline glowered at her sister. "Read. Read. I swear I've read every book in here worth reading."
A very unladylike snort escaped Grace. "I highly doubt that, sister. And even if you have, read them again. You could give this one a try." She held up her book. "It's wonderful. You would quite like it."
Emmeline glanced at it. "Eliza told me all about that one. She insists Deveric is her Darcy." She rolled her eyes.
"Better than a Wickham, that's for sure." Grace stood and crossed to her sister. "We'll be off to London soon, dear Emme, and then you shall once again be the belle of every ball." She beckoned with a hand.
Emmeline rose and they neared the fire, holding their fingers in front of the flames. "That was Rosaline Marcheux, and you know it," she said with a pout. "No one could compete with her violet eyes and that sable hair."
"More like a raven's nest, if you ask me. Besides, she ended up with Lord Demville. That old goat; you wouldn't have wanted him, anyway."
"You're right. But I was hoping, so hoping."
Grace linked her arm through her sister's, and they exited the room. "Soon, my Cinderella in waiting, soon."
"Cinderella? As if I'd be caught dead sweeping up ashes!"
Grace could only smile as they headed to the parlor, where Emme said Rebecca had set out a game of cards. She loved her sisters, but in many ways she was their opposite.
Oh well. She could return to Darcy later.
It wasn't as if there was much else to do.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Demon Duke"
Copyright © 2017 Margaret Locke.
Excerpted by permission of Locked On Love Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My first book by this author and I have to say I loved it! I've also realized I'm going to have to now go read her Magic of Love series! Love how they're all connected by family and yet still a read-alone book! Grace was my favorite type of heroine, in that she was plain spoken and her interaction with Damon showed the strong heroine she was. Damon and Grace both have several sisters and I can't wait to read their stories!
Grace & Damon are wonderful together. A touching story of a man who was beaten & cast away as a young boy by a father who believed he was tainted & twisted by something the young boy could not control. Grace, a woman who would rather read than attend the lavish balls, & find a husband is considered a mouse. But this compassionate , understanding young lady proves everyone wrong. A lot of sexual tension as Damon desires Grace from the very first time he meets her. Many of the High born ladies desire him but only if tryst ing in secret. By the way, I love the cover. He is dressed exactly the way as described at one of the balls, including the skull pin!
Great story especially including the medical condition of tourettes.
I instantly fell in love with this book and its characters. The author has weaved such a special love story about one man who has suffered greatly from his disability and was able to find an inner strength to learn to cope with what life and his family has given him. The love story is so sweet and you can’t help but root for these two individuals. But the story does not stop there; the author has been able to weave together a plausible family story with intriguing drama. I highly recommend this book to all who enjoy reading about true love and over coming life’s obstacles to have a happy ending. Also, don’t forget to bring a pack of tissues along with you when curl up to enjoy this story.
Good read, a few misunderstandings, and not too drawn out. Just missing something to make me care more about the characters.
Wonderful story! Damon Blackbourne, now Duke of Malford, has what we now call Tourette’s Syndrome. As a child, his father beat him and then sent him away. Luckily for him, the servants who took care of him treated him as a normal boy. His father and older brother are both deceased and he must take over the running of the estate and escorting his mother and sisters to London. Grace Mattersley (22), loves books and is not worried about being nearly on the shelf. Her father cheated on her mother so she doesn’t trust men. She must attend balls with her mother and sisters, but often hides in the host’s library which is where she meets Damon. She is attracted to him and he to her, though he believes no woman would want him. Danger is lurking in the form of his uncle, who believes he should be the Duke as he thinks Damon is not capable. I won’t spoil the rest of this book as I hope you will read it.
A unique view of a neurological disorder