He's never forgotten her. But can he forgive her?
When Alastair Ransleigh sees Diana, Duchess of Graveston, for the first time since she jilted him, he makes her a shockingly insulting offer the chance to become his mistress. And even more shockingly, she accepts!
But the widowed duchess is nothing like the bold, passionate girl Alastair once loved. Years of suffering at the hands of a cruel husband have taken their toll. And as Alastair resolves to save Diana from the damage of the past, their chance meeting turns feelings of revenge to thoughts of rescue
Where these notorious rakes go, scandal always follows
About the Author
Long before embarking on romantic adventures of her own, Julia Justiss read about them, transporting herself to such favourite venues as ancient Egypt, World War II submarine patrols, the Old South and, of course, Regency England. Soon she was keeping notebooks for jotting down story ideas. When not writing or traveling, she enjoys watching movies, reading and puttering about in the garden trying to kill off more weeds than flowers.
Read an Excerpt
It was her.
Shock rocked him like the blast of air from a passing cannonball. Struck numb in its wake, Alastair Ransleigh, late of His Majesty's First Dragoons, stared at the tall, dark-haired woman approaching from the other side of Bath's expansive Sidney Gardens.
Even as his disbelieving mind told him it couldn't be her, he knew on some level deeper than reason that it was Diana. No other woman had that graceful, lilting step, as if dancing as she walked.
Heart thundering, he exhaled a great gasping breath, still unable to move or tear his gaze from her.
So had she glided into the room the day he'd first met her, bringing a draught of spring air and enchantment into the Oxford study where the callow collegian he'd once been had gone to consult her father, a noted scholar.
Memory swooped down and sank in vicious claws. Just so he 'd watched her, delirious with delight, as she walked into the Coddingfords' ballroom eight and a half years ago. Awaited her signal to approach, so her father might announce their engagement to the assembled guests.
Instead, she 'd given her arm to the older man who had followed her in. The Duke of Graveston, he 'd belatedly recognised. The man who then announced that Diana was to marry him.
A sudden impact at knee level nearly knocked him over. 'Uncle Alastair!' his six-year-old nephew Robbie shrieked, hugging him around the legs while simultaneously jumping up and down. 'When did you get here? Are you staying long? Please say you are! Can you take me to get Sally Lunn cakes? And my friend, too?'
Jolted back to the present, Alastair returned the hug before setting the child at arm's length with hands that weren't quite steady. Fighting off the compulsion to look back across the gardens, he made himself focus on Robbie.
'I've only just arrived, and I'm not sure how long I'll stay. Your mama told me you'd gone to the Gardens with Nurse, so I decided to fetch you. Yes, we'll get cakes. Where's your friend?'
Still distracted, he followed his nephew's pointing finger towards a boy about Robbie's age, dressed neatly in nankeens and jacket. The child looked up at him shyly, the dark hair curling over his forehead shadowing his blue, blue eyes.
With another paralysing shock, he realised that Robbie's friend must be her son.
The son that should have been his.
Pain as sharp as acid scalded his gut, followed by a wave of revulsion. Buy the boy cake? He'd as soon give sustenance to a viper!
Shocked by the ferocity of his reaction, he hauled himself under control. Whatever had occurred between himself and Diana was no fault of this innocent child.
It was the suddenness of it, seeing her again after so long with no warning, no time to armour himself against a revival of the anguish of their bitter parting. The humiliation of it, he thought, feeling his face redden.
Certain there must be some mistake, he' d run to her. Desperate to have her deny it, or at the very least, affirm the truth to his face, he 'd shouted after her as the Duke warned him off and swept her away. Never once as he followed them did she glance at him before his cousins dragged him, still shouting, out of the ballroom
Hurt pierced him, nearly as sharp as on that night he remembered with such grisly clarity. An instant later, revitalising anger finally scoured away the pain.
Ridiculous to expend so much thought or emotion on the woman, he told himself, sucking in a deep, calming breath. She'd certainly proved herself unworthy of it. He'd got over her years ago.
Though, he thought sardonically, this unexpected explosion of emotion suggested he hadn't banished the incident quite as effectively as he'd thought. He had, however, mastered a salutary lesson on the perfidy of females. They could be lovely, sometimes entertaining, and quite useful for the purpose for which their luscious bodies had been designed, but they were cold-hearted, devious, and focused on their own self-interest.
So, after that night, he had treated them as temporary companions to be enjoyed, but never trusted. And never again allowed close enough to touch his heart.
So he would treat Diana now, with cordial detachment.
His equilibrium restored, he allowed himself to glance across the park. Yes, she was still approaching. Any moment now, she would notice him, draw close enough to recognise him.
Would a blush of shame or embarrassment tint those cheeks, as well it should? Or would she brazen it out, cool and calm as if she hadn't deceived, betrayed and humiliated him before half of London's most elite Society?
Despite himself, Alastair tensed as she halted on the far side of the pathway, holding his breath as he awaited her reaction.
When at last she turned her eyes towards them, her gaze focused only on the boy. 'Mannington,' she called in a soft, lilting voice.
The familiar tones sent shivers over his skin before penetrating to the marrow, where they resonated in a hundred stabbing echoes of memory.
'Please, Mama, may I go for cakes?' the boy asked her as Alastair battled the effect. 'My new friend, Robbie, invited me.'
'Another time, perhaps. Come along, now.' She crooked a finger, beckoning to the lad, her glance passing from the boy to Robbie to Alastair. After meeting his eyes for an instant, without a flicker of recognition, she gave him a slight nod, then turned away and began walking off.
Sighing, the boy looked back at Robbie. 'Will you come again tomorrow? Maybe I can go then.'
'Yes, I'll come,' Robbie replied as the child trotted after his mother. Grabbing the arm of the boy's maid, who was tucking a ball away in her apron, his nephew asked, 'You'll bring him, won't you?'
The girl smiled at Robbie. 'If I can, young master. Though little notice as Her Grace takes of the poor boy, don't see that it would make a ha'penny's difference to her whether he was in the house or not. I'd better get on.' Gently extricating her hand from Robbie's grip, she hurried off after her charge.
Alastair checked the immediate impulse to follow her, announce himself to Diana, and force a reaction.
Surely he hadn't changed that much from the eager young dreamer who'd thrown heart and soul at her feet, vowing to love her for ever! As she had vowed back to him, barely a week before she gave her hand to an older, wealthier man of high rank.
Had he been merely a convenient dupe, his open devotion a goad to prod a more prestigious suitor into coming up to snuff? He'd never known.
Sudden fury coursed through him again that the sight of her, the mere sound of her voice, could churn up an anguish he'd thought finally buried. Ah, how he hated her! Or more precisely, hated what she could still do to him.
Since the night she'd betrayed him, he'd had scores of women and years of soldiering. He'd thrown himself into the most desperate part of the battle, determined to burn the memory of loving her out of his brain.
While she seemed, now as then, entirely indifferent.
Mechanically he gave his nephew a hand, walking beside him while the lad chattered on about his friend and his pony and the fine set of lead soldiers waiting for them in the nursery, where they could replay all the battles in which Uncle Alastair had fought. It required nearly the whole of the steep uphill walk from Sidney Gardens across the river back to his sister's townhouse in the Royal Crescent for him to finally banish Diana's image.
Damn, but she'd been even lovelier than he remembered.
Sending Robbie up to the nursery with a promise to join him later for an engagement with lead soldiers, Alastair turned over his hat and cane to his sister's butler. He'd placed boot on step to follow his nephew up the stairs when Simms halted him.
'Lady Guildford requested that you join her in the morning room immediately upon your return, Mr Rans-leigh, if that is possible.'
Alastair paused, debating. He'd hoped, before meeting his all-too-perceptive sister, to return to the solitude of the pretty guest chamber to which he'd been shown upon his arrival early this morning, where he might finish piecing back together the shards of composure shattered by his unexpected encounter with Diana. But failing to respond to Jane's summons might elicit just the sort of heightened interest that he wished to avoid.
With a sigh, he nodded. 'Very well. You needn't announce me; I'll find my way in.'
Moments later he stepped into a back parlour flooded with mid-morning sunlight. 'Alastair!' his sister exclaimed with delight, jumping up from the sofa to meet him for a hug. 'I'm sorry I was so occupied when you arrived this morning! Though if I'd had any inkling you were coming, I would have had all in readiness,' she added, a tinge of reproof in her tone.
'Do you mean to scold me for showing up unannounced, as Mama always does?' he teased.
'Of course not! I assume you're not here for some assignation, else you'd not come to stay with me.'
'Assignation?' he said with a laugh. 'You'll make me blush, sister mine! And what would a proper matron like you know about assignations?'
'Nothing whatever, of course, other that you're rumoured to have many of them,' Jane retorted, her face flushing.
'You shouldn't listen to gossip,' Alastair said loftily. 'But let me assure you, if I did have an "'assignation" in mind, I'd choose a more convenient and discreet location than Bath to set up a mistress.'
'It pains me that you've become so cynical. If only you'd become acquainted with any of the lovely, accomplished and well-bred girls I've suggested, you'd find that not all women are interested only in title and position.'
'Of course not. You married Viscount Guildford out of overwhelming passion, the kind you'd have me write about,' he said sardonically.
Her flush deepened. 'Just because a match is suitable, doesn't mean there can't be love involved.'
'Oh, I'm a great believer in love! Indulge in it as often as I can. But I could hardly make one of your exemplary virgins my mistress,' he said, then held up a hand as Jane's eyes widened and she began to sputter a reply. 'Pax, Jane! Let's not brangle. I came to see you and Robbie, of course, and I do hope I'm welcome.'
'Always!' she said with a sigh, to his relief letting the uncomfortable topic go. He loved his sister and his mother dearly, but the succession of women with whom he'd been involved since his break with Dianawith their attempted claims on his time, his purse or his namehad only strengthened his decision never again to offer his heart or hand.
Jane looped her arm with his, leading him to a seat beside her on the sofa. 'Of course you may come and go as you wish! But if the ladies in your life would prefer to prepare a proper welcome and perhaps cosset you a bit, you must forgive us. We waited too many long anxious years while you were in the army, not sure you would ever make it back.'
'But I did, and I wager you find me as annoying as ever,' Alastair pronounced, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. 'So, was it my unannounced visit that I've been summoned to answer for? I thought, with Guildford off in London toiling away for some Parliamentary committee, you'd be delighted to have me break the tedium of marking time in Bath while your papa-in-law takes the waters. How is the Earl, by the way?'
'Better. I do think the waters are helping his dyspepsia. And I can't complain about being in Bath. It may not be the premier resort it once was, before Prinny made Brighton more fashionable, but it still offers a quite tolerable number of diversions.'
'So which of my misdeeds required this urgent meeting?'
To his surprise, despite his teasing tone, his sister's face instantly sobered. 'Nothing you've done, as well you know, but I do need to make you aware of a complication, one of some import. I'm not sure exactly how to begin '
Brow creased, Jane gazed warily at his face, and instinctively he stiffened. 'Yes?'
Though Alastair would have sworn he neither moved a millimetre nor altered his expression in the slightest, Jane's eyes widened and she gasped. 'You've already seen her! You have, haven't you?'
Damn and blast! He was likely now in for the very sort of inquisition he'd heartily wished to avoid. 'If you mean Dianathe Duchess of Graveston, that isyes, I have. At any rate, I believe it was her, though we didn't speak, so I'm not completely sure. It has been years, after all,' he added, trying for his calmest, most uninterested tone. 'A lady who looked like I remember her came to Sidney Gardens when I went after Robbie, to fetch her s-son.' Inwardly cursing that he'd stumbled over the word, Alastair cleared his throat.
Distress creased his sister's forehead. 'I'm so sorry you encountered her! I just this morning discovered her presence myself, and intended to warn you straight away so you might prepare yourself. That woman, too, has only just arrived, or so Hetty Greenlaw reported when she called on me this morning.' Her tone turning to annoyance, Jane continued. 'Knowing of my "close connection to a distressing incident involving my maternal family", she felt it her duty to warn me that the Duchess was in Baththe old tattle-tale. Doubtless agog to report to all her cronies exactly how I took the news!'
'With disinterested disdain, I'll wager,' Alastair said, eager to encourage this diversion from the subject at hand.
'Naturally. As if I would give someone as odious as that scandalmonger any inkling of my true feelings on the matter. But,' she said, her gaze focusing back on his face, 'I'm more concerned with your reaction.'
Alastair shrugged. 'How should I react? Goodness, Jane, that attachment was dead and buried years ago.'
Her perceptive eyes searched his face. 'Was it, Alastair?'
Damn it, he had to look away first, his face colouring. 'Of course.'
'You needn't see her, or even acknowledge her existence. Her whole appearance here is most irregularwe only received word of the Duke's passing two days ago! No one has any idea why she would leave Graveston Court so quickly after his death, or come to Bath, of all places. With, I understand, almost no servants or baggage. I highly doubt a woman as young and beautiful as Diana means to set up court as a dowager! If she's angling to remarry, she won't do her chances any good, flouting convention by appearing in public so scandalously soon after her husband's death! Although if she did, I'd at least have the satisfaction of being able to cut her.'
'That might not be feasible. Robbie has struck up a friendship with her son,' he informed her, making himself say the word again without flinching. 'He invited the boy to meet him again in the gardens tomorrow.' Alastair smiled, hoping it didn't appear as a grimace. 'So I can take them both for cakes.'
If he hadn't been still so unsettled himself, Alastair would have laughed at the look of horror that passed over his sister's face as the difficulty of the situation registered.
'I shall come up with some way to fob off Robbie,' Jane said. 'It's unthinkable for you to be manoeuvred into associating with her.'
Recalling the strength of his nephew's single-mindedness when fixed on an objectiveso like his mama's iron will Alastair raised a sceptical eyebrow. 'If you can succeed in distracting the boy who chattered all the way home from the Gardens about his new friend, I'll be surprised. Besides, if Diana goes about in Society, I'm bound to encounter her from time to time.'
'You don't mean you'll chance seeing her again?' his sister returned incredulously. 'Oh, Alastair, don't risk it!'
'Risk? Come now, Jane, this all happened years ago. No need to enact a Cheltenham tragedy.'
Pressing her lips together, Jane shook her head, tears sheening her eyes. 'I know you say you're over her, and I only pray God it's true. But I'll never forgetno one who cares about you ever couldhow absolutely and completely bouleversé you were. The wonderful poetry you wrote in homage to her wit, her beauty, her grace, her liveliness! The fact that you haven't written a line since she jilted you.'
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
To begin with, THE RAKE TO RESCUE HER is one of the most gorgeously written books I have ever read! Diana broke Alastair’s hearts years ago when she left him to marry money and a title. He never got over it, he never forgave her, but when they accidentally meet again, Diana is a widow. Alastair seems to want to establish a renewed civil relationship, but Diana responds rather coolly. Alastair offers her to become his mistress, and he is nonplussed when she agrees. Eventually Alastair thinks it might be possible to rebuild the love they once had, but something is troubling Diana, and slowly he begins to understand the trials she experienced during the time they were apart. THE RAKE TO RESCUE HER is sublimely written, the prose is historically flawless, and the dialogues are exquisite. The era is meticulously researched yet the author never hinders the flow of the story with unnecessary details: everything is simply perfect. It’s also a very emotional and touching story as the characters get to know each other again. Diana and Alastair are fascinating characters, very complex, and their story is captivating. Julia Justiss was a new author to me, and I loved THE RAKE TO RESCUE HER so much, her next book will not come soon enough; a truly exceptional book!
Pain and Passion After be jilted and humiliated eight and half years before... pain, anger and bitterness are the emotions that run through Alastair Ransleigh when he sees Diana for the first time since. A friendship between his nephew and her son brings them together... from there things get interesting. They each agree to an affair and certain unknown facts start to come to light. A man that has closed off his heart... a woman that has walled away her emotions... can either be happy again? Can they work together to keep her son safe from the threat of the new Duke that has vengeance in mind? Can they heal each other? What a wonderful read! I loved how the characters came to life between the pages of this book. The emotions that this author's words brought out. Diana's son brought a smile to my face! I truly enjoyed The Rake To Rescue Her and am looking forward to more from this author and series!
A Rake to be rescued by, indeed! This is the story to read if you like second chance stories and let me tell you that even if you’re not fond of the trope you’re still going to thoroughly enjoy it. The story starts with a chance encounter of former sweet-hearts Alastair Raleigh and Diana, recently widowed Duchess of Graveston. Due to past history, he believes she owes him a great deal and therefore she must pay with none other than herself. They each have their reasons to go into the affair and as much as each tries to keep the heart out of the equation, they do not succeed much. He’s a poet at heart so even though he’s a rake by reputation he can never bring himself to be mean to Diana, as much as he thinks he wants to. He’s thoughtful, sweet, and charming but never falters in his decisions, always assertive, always confident. Diana on the other hand tends to be cool and distant, even during their liaison and particularly at the beginning of it; however, she has pretty good reasons to be. Even with that stoic attitude and seemingly emotionless demeanor I connected with her, I mean, what do you do when you are truly alone? When everything is taken away from you, even the thing that you’re supposed to love more than life itself? I love that Alastair takes his time with her, never pushing her, always remembering what she’d gone through (even when I wanted to shake her about and slap her upside-down the head for being stubborn and unreceptive to his love) and patiently makes her understand that she’s no longer alone but among friends, old and new. Their relationship goes from Diana paying her dues as Alastair’s mistress to a relationship that bears forgiveness and acceptance. Their encounters are very well crafted and as the story progresses I simply wanted to know more about their story, have more, read more. The story touched all the right cords of the times; the naïveté of the innocent girl in love that didn't know better, the young man in love that had all his dreams shattered when his beloved jilted him for a titled man for no apparent reason, the influential taking advantage of those beneath him in society, but as with any good romantic tale friends come through and you are reminded that no matter what, a true hero will do what must be done to win the heroine’s heart. * Be warned this is an adult read and it contains some very graphic scenes that may not be suitable for some readers. If I may, don't read it if this is not your cup of tea. If you do, don't rate it poorly because it wasn't a fit to your sensible taste. ++ I was gifted a copy of this story by the author in exchange for an honest review ++
The characters were likeable and the story kept you interested as to the resolution and how the hero would handle roadblocks tossed in his way. The lead female definitely had some issues to resolve, but the lead male was patient with her, despite objections from his family. This isn't as light a romance as most Regency era based books. There is a definite under current of menace that is a little disturbing. Considering what the heroine has gone through, this demonstrates a high skill level on the writer's part. I'm impressed, with her skill and would read more by her. I didn't rate the book higher, because I was expecting something lighter, which is no reflection on the writer nor her abilities. I'm looking forward to reading more about the rogues/rakes. The characters/friends in this book clearly have a history, that sounded appealing to me. I will be seeking out more books by Ms. Justiss. I received this in exchange for an honest review.
My Oh My! This book went straight to my heart. I loved reading this story. I have most of Julia's books and I think this is the best of all. At least until the next book comes out. I have read enough books to know it is easier to write and read Happy stories. It takes a Good writer to write sad and dark books. Julia can do both! She came up with a way of writing strong people even if they don't think so themselves. So it goes for her villains. Poor Alastair who is jilted at a Ball when his love, Diana, is announced she is marrying a Duke. Forward 8 1/2 years and he finds her a widow with a son. From here on out come all the twists, turns and spoilers. There were several spots that were hard to read. I can't say more except Please choose this book to read. It really is a quick read but it depends on how many tissue runs you need. I hope you enjoy this book!
Here I sit with a cup of coffee at my side, my eyeglasses at the ready, a pencil in my hand, a wee bit of white chocolate bar and the book, 'The Rake To Rescue Her' written by Julia Justiss. I always write down five words that pertain to my understanding and thoughts about the novel I am reading. Words that best describe to me what the story is about, the emotions evoked by the author's storytelling. I take delight in circling sentences that I find intriguing, funny or descriptive...you know, uncommon! I write my thoughts within the pages of the novel. Synopsis...He's never forgotten her. But can he forgive her? When Alastair Ransleigh sees Diana, Duchess of Graveston, for the first time since she jilted him, he makes her a shockingly insulting offer…the chance to become his mistress. And even more shockingly, she accepts! But the widowed duchess is nothing like the bold, passionate girl Alastair once loved. Years of suffering at the hands of a cruel husband have taken their toll. And as Alastair resolves to save Diana from the damage of the past, their chance meeting turns feelings of revenge to thoughts of rescue… Ransleigh Rogues Where these notorious rakes go, scandal always follows… I adore this cover illustration, the models depict such emotion that equals the main characters within this novel. Even their posture, and their pose reflects self-assurance, fear and doubt. Emotion-such raw emotions are portrayed and conveyed within the written paragraphs, the hero/heroine came alive and vulnerable. One could not help but, feel the hurt, anguish and distrust. Truth-there was truth, enduring of one's life; it's hardships. A knowing yet, unspoken truth of secrets and danger. Hurt-physical, emotional pain, it is deep, raw and fragile for both Alastair and Diana, but, also for the secondary characters, the family and close friends who stood by Alastair, committed. I, myself could feel the suffering, the fear and the enduring of all that transpired. I wanted to read more, find out what happened that I found myself rushing throughout then having to go back and reread because I wanted, no...I needed to absorb all of what occurred, to comprehend, I realized I had to take it slow and appreciate the depths of their hurt and yes, their love and interpret their longing and desire. To rekindle. Family-one of the things I enjoy is reading a novel that including family. Loyal, untrusting, hopeful, protective and a shared agony. I was grateful to see a powerful love! Intriguing this story was for the danger of more loss for the family was possible . Hypnotic-for the way the dialogue was used and the words to describe a setting, a scene, captured my eye and imagination as I read. I was intrigued by all, thus, feeling as if I was sitting, watching all play out in front of me. I was in awe of how this author's ability was able to transport me into her world just by her creativity and her use of sentence structure. Her descriptiveness in the telling of her story and dialogue captured my imagination. It was not known to me that this story was a part of a series until I read the first pages of the novel thus, I went and purchased the first books! Jane Silhouette
I loved this story! This is the first story from this series I've read and I'm definitely going to read the others. My first love in romance books are historicals even though lately I've read a lot of contemporary romances. This book reminded me why I love historical romances so much. Alastair is surprised to see Diana after all of these years. All of those feelings that he has been stuffing down all come rushing out. He feels that his anger most of all is valid and he can barely keep it under control. Diana is just as surprised to see Alastair, but after all of these years she thought he would have moved on in his life. Realizing that he hasn't she feels that she owes him. After the life that she has lived the last eight years she believes that she is strong enough to do anything that Alastair wants to make up for how she left him. Alastair realizes that Diana is a shell of the woman he knew and loved all of those years ago and she needs rescuing from the circumstances that she had no choice from choosing all of those years ago. I'm looking forward to reading other books in this series by Julia Justiss. I was given an ARC to read for an honest review. All conclusions and mine and mine alone. Lori P
Alastair sees the love of his live Diana who broke his heart years ago by dumping him for a Duke. He sees her with her son and finds out she is a widow and he wants to hurt her like she did to him. Everybody tells him to avoid her but what he is drawn to her. He finds out she is not the same person and been hurt by her late husband. He wants to use her and make her pay but them he ends up helping her become the person she was. In the mean time they rekindle their love they had for each other. They both buried it deep in there hearts. Love wins out in the end and second chance of love.
This book was a great read! The characters were flawed for certain, but well written! Julia Justiss has a way with words! Her descriptions and dialog are very in-depth and pull you into the story! I felt for Alastair, Mr. Ransleigh, and Diana, The Dowager Duchess of Graveston. The shock of seeing her after she jilted him sets his emotions running in all directions. He is not even sure she recognized him. He finds out pretty soon after that her husband, The Duke of Graveston has died. Why would she rush to town so fast? The upper crust of society, he knew to be ruthless at times, but he never suspected his Diana, a professor's daughter, would leave him for a Duke. But that is exactly what she did! On the night they were to announce their betrothal! He tries to hide his pain while running into battle as a soldier. The pain he thought he had buried long ago comes screeching to the surface. But he can't stay away. He finds out she has a son. Which could have been his son. What happened in the past was not what it seems. And now Diana is in trouble. Can he believe her story and put the past aside so he may keep her safe? Can he offer her anything and can Diana put the past behind her as well? She has been through so much. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! Truly a great story! *I received an advanced copy of this book for my honest review*