The Reluctant Duchess: A Novel

The Reluctant Duchess: A Novel

by Sharon Cullen

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Overview

The Reluctant Duchess: A Novel by Sharon Cullen

USA TODAY BESTSELLER • Perfect for fans of Mary Balogh and Eloisa James, Sharon Cullen’s seductive new historical romance ignites as a shy country girl and a hotheaded duke surrender to dangerous temptations.

Lady Sara Emerson was jolted out of her dull provincial life by her cousin’s murder. Now that the killer seems to be targeting her, Sara seeks help from the man who was once her cousin’s fiancé, Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne. With his towering frame and fiery personality, Ross cuts an intimidating figure. Living under his protection, however, has its own hazards—like the sudden urge Sara feels to take their relationship in new, exquisitely inappropriate directions.

Dazzled by the social graces of his betrothed, Ross never noticed her shy, blushing cousin. Looking at Sara now, though, he’s drawn to her lovely eyes and calm disposition. Funny how a year away from the hustle and bustle of the ton changes a man. But Ross has no intention of allowing a woman to interfere with his plan to return overseas. He will simply capture the murderer and set sail once again. The problem is, with her beguiling lips and heavenly touch, Sara makes him never want to leave home—or his bed—again.

Look for all of Sharon Cullen’s delightful historical romances:
 
The All the Queen’s Spies series: WED TO A SPY  | BOUND TO A SPY
 
The Secrets & Seduction series: THE NOTORIOUS LADY ANNE | LOVING THE EARL | PLEASING THE PIRATE | HIS SAVING GRACE | SEBASTIAN’S LADY SPY | THE RELUCTANT DUCHESS
 
The Highland Pride series: SUTHERLAND’S SECRET | MACLEAN’S PASSION | CAMPBELL’S REDEMPTION

Praise for The Reluctant Duchess

“Riveting . . . The true depth of the characters is revealed through dialogue that eschews Austen-style witticisms for thoughtful discussion and quiet but determined clashes of will. Intense romance and intriguing mystery make this a tale to be savored.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Cullen allows the suspense to ebb and flow naturally between finding clues and hitting dead ends. She wisely uses the downtime to develop two strong main characters. Ross’s ability to see past Sara’s shy reserve and his admiration for her courage and strength will have readers rooting for the couple’s success. Highly recommended for historical romance buffs who prefer a little mayhem in the mix.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Many readers will enjoy this lively Victorian tale starring a protective hero and a quietly stubborn heroine.”—Anne Gracie, award-winning author of The Spring Bride

The Reluctant Duchess is a tale replete with sizzling tension and high stakes, as could only come from the pen of Sharon Cullen.”—Ashlyn Macnamara, author of What a Lady Requires

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101883648
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/10/2015
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 274
Sales rank: 106,644
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Sharon Cullen is the USA Today bestselling author of the Highland Pride series (Sutherland’s Secret, MacLean’s Passion) as well as many novels of Regency romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. If you’d like to find out more about the author and her books, you can visit her blog or her website. She is addicted to social networking, so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion: books.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

“Lady Sara Emerson to see you, Your Grace.”

Gabriel Ferguson, the Duke of Rossmoyne, cracked an eye open and quickly slammed it shut. “What the devil time is it?” he croaked.

“Half past eleven, Your Grace.”

Half past eleven. He hadn’t fallen into bed until half past four in the morning, with the dirt and smell of the last ship he’d sailed on still clinging to him. He’d tumbled into a deep sleep until Hector, his butler, had awakened him at this ungodly hour of half past eleven.

He rolled over, moaning at his sore muscles, and rubbed a hand down cheeks covered with several weeks’ worth of beard. He needed a bath, a shave, and a slow return to civilization. He wasn’t ready for London just yet.

Especially not at this hellish hour.

“What should I tell your visitor, Your Grace?”

Ross wrinkled his brow and scratched at his arm. “What visitor?”

Though Hector tried to repress his sigh, Ross heard it anyway. “Lady Sara Emerson. She is waiting in the drawing room.”

Ross stilled. “What, may I ask, is Lady Sara Emerson doing in my drawing room?”

“I’m certain I don’t know. What I do know is that this is her fifth visit in as many days.”

Lady Sara Emerson had called five days in a row? What in the everloving hell for?

“If I may, Your Grace?”

“If I say no, Hector, will you go away?”

“No, Your Grace.”

Ross sighed. Damned insolent man. “Say your piece, then.”

“If I send her away today, she will only return tomorrow.” Hector produced a pile of calling cards resting innocently on a silver platter. Surely they weren’t all from Lady Sara. Hector held the tray out to Ross, who waved it away.
“So you’re saying I should meet with her now? Looking like this?” He indicated his unshaved visage and the fact he hadn’t had a bath in more days than he liked to remember.

“I can tell her to return this afternoon if you wish.”

“No. I will see her now.” While he wasn’t pleased to receive a visitor so soon after arriving home, he was curious as to why Lady Sara had come calling. He hadn’t seen her in two years, and even then he’d barely known her. There was no earthly reason he could think of that would bring her to his doorstep five days in a row.

Sara sat with her hands folded in her lap, her knees pressed together, and her derriere nearly sliding off the edge of the settee. She looked around the Duke of Rossmoyne’s drawing room in a sad attempt to control the urge to flee. Her heart was pounding, her breath kept getting stuck in her lungs, and her hands were sweating beneath her gloves. She knew the anxiety was only in her head—her mind playing tricks on her. And she knew her reaction was silly, but that didn’t calm her hammering heart or her erratic breathing.

Something thudded above her, making her jump and press a hand to her heart. She looked up at the ceiling, half expecting something to come crashing through.

He’s here.

She wiped her moist palms on her skirts, rocking forward and then back as she took a deep breath.

This was what she wanted—to speak to the duke. She’d told herself that over and over, but it hadn’t calmed her like she’d hoped it would. She’d spent five days waiting for him, and now all she wanted to do was run back to the safety of her home in Hadley Springs.

You will not run, Sara Emerson. You will stay right here until you speak to the duke.

The butler had not indicated in any way that His Grace was finally in residence, but the past five times she’d come calling she hadn’t made it past the front door. That she was now sitting in the drawing room had to mean he was finally here.

Or it could mean they are sending for the bobby to bodily take you away for being a pest.

Well, yes, there was that, too. But no, she had to believe that he had returned from wherever it was he’d been and was accepting callers.

She wriggled her bottom to bring some feeling back to it.

The door burst open and the Duke of Rossmoyne strode through, his boots clomping across the floor, a fierce scowl on his face.

Sara jumped up as if she’d been caught doing something she shouldn’t.

He stopped before her, all six feet plus of broad shoulders and overwhelming personality. She’d always quailed in his presence, intimidated by his strong personality and exceptional good looks, and today was no exception. She shot a nervous glance at the door with the half-formed thought of escaping. Instead she turned back and lifted her chin.

His face was almost completely hidden behind a thick russet beard. And that wasn’t the worst of it. As if his heathen appearance weren’t enough, he was wearing only a shirt and trousers. No necktie. The shirt was untucked, and the top button wasn’t buttoned. His throat was naked. Not to mention the lack of a frock coat. It was simply unheard of for a man to be seen without his frock coat.

The last time she’d seen him, his gorgeous reddish-brown hair had been neatly trimmed. Now it hung to his shoulders in uncontrolled waves that he hadn’t attempted to pull back. Worse still, it was wet, as if he’d just emerged from the tub. He didn’t appear embarrassed by his appearance. In fact, he looked utterly comfortable.
Mercy. It was hard enough asking for his help, but must he look as if he’d just rolled out of bed and donned the first thing that came to hand?

His remarkable appearance threw Sara, and she lost the carefully rehearsed speech she’d prepared.

He stared down at her, and she couldn’t discern the expression in his eyes.

Falling back on ingrained manners, Sara dipped into a deep curtsy and hid her trembling hands in the folds of her skirt. “Your Grace. I appreciate that you were willing to see me.”

Customer Reviews

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The Reluctant Duchess 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book starts a little slow, but I enjoyed the mystery. The main characters have a nice romance. It was also refreshing to see a brown-haired heroine. I get tired of reading all about the beautiful blondes. The reveal of the mystery was predictable, but that fact did not bother me. Most of the supporting women in the book were annoying. The author did better with the male characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read. I loved the Characters and the way they were developed. I also liked how the murder was solved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A light Regency with a sweet romance and an easily solved mystery. Still, it was good enough that I'll probably go back and read Grace's story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The mystery portion of the book, was better than the Romance. The premise was very promising, however, Lady Sara was just too unsure of herself. The writer did a poor job of the romance between the Duke, and Sara. This truly could have been a great book. However, between the Author , editors , and proof readers, it was disappointing to me, especially the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sara and Ross's story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read three chapters, got bored so I jumped to the last chapter and couldn't even read all of that chapter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good plot and well written. My only groan was herr name at the end of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed characters and good story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You are an amazing writer!
skelley55 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book - just the right combination of romance and mystery. The characters draw you in and the story keeps you hooked. I would highly recommend this book.
BuckeyeAngel More than 1 year ago
When Lady Sara Emerson starts to get mysterious creepy letters, she goes to London and turns to the only person that might help, Gabriel Ferguson Duke of Rossmoyne. The once fiance of her dead cousin had once offered to help her with anything if she needed, so she was taking him up on his offer. Gabriel Ferguson had literally just returned from a journey to India when Lady Sara barges in, asking for his help. He reluctantly agrees when she refuses to go back to her family home. the more he’s around her, he can’t help but be drawn to her quiet strength and beauty, even as the danger gets worse. This was a really good story. I don’t get to read too many historicals that have some suspense in them. I really loved the interactions between Sara and Gabriel as they both get to know the real person they are that they never have been able to let others see. Great plot and characters. I highly recommend to anyone that likes this genre. **I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review
Theardentreader More than 1 year ago
Lady Sara Grandview needs help and the only person she can turn to is Lord Rossmoyne. Her murdered cousin's betrothed. Sara has not seen him since the gruesome murder of her cousin, but before the family and he parted ways, he told her if they ever needed anything, to contact him. So she is taking him up on that offer. Someone has started sending Sara letters. Notes concerning her cousin and her tragic end. Sara is beyond frightened but has no idea how to find this person. She travels to London to consult with Lord Rossmoyne. Lord Rossmoyne "Ross" has just returned from an assignment in India issued by the Queen. He is woken abruptly by his butler telling him that Lady Sara has arrived and this is the 5th time she has called. Ross doesn't want to be bothered, but his curiosity gets the better of him. He never really paid much attention to Sara, She is shy and keeps to herself. Her cousin, Meredith, always outshone anyone in the room and Sara was happy to sit on the sidelines and observe. After reading the notes left for Sara, Ross becomes worried for her, feeling he must protect her since he thinks he failed to protect Meredith. Ross asks Sara to stay at his home, his mother is there so propriety is not an issue, but she will be safer with him. This lends itself to the two of them getting to know each other better. Which could lead to setting propriety on its ear! This was a very intriguing story, trying to figure out who was sending the notes, and if that person is responsible for Meredith's murder. The two main characters are sort of contradictory. Sara was a mouse in social situations, but when alone or in a group of only a few that she knew, she was a very strong-willed woman. Ross was the opposite. socially outgoing but in private more closed off and introspective. I liked these two very much. The times they talked alone were very well written. I felt a great connection developed between them. Greif changes people, sometimes so much that the things they wanted change drastically. I think the author shows this very well! Fantastic story written very well! I felt like I was there! *Copy provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not this writers best work. Sara is very very shy but comes to the duke for help about letters she recieved. It was easy to figure out the bad guy but worst was waiting and waiting for anything besides letters to happen. Sara is so shy it is annoying, but with ross she is great. Ok book, but read better from the this author.
tmurrell2 More than 1 year ago
Lady Sara is the quiet wallflower, while her cousin. Meredith, is the belle of the ball with her dashing fiance, Ross. But when Meredith is murdered she retreats to the country to take care of her family as they deal with the loss. Two years later, Sara begins to get threatening letters. Not wanting to burden her family in their grief, she turns to Ross for help. Ross never noticed Sara next to her shining cousin Meredith. But after two years abroad, he's changed and now he's noticing how well Sara fits into his life. This was a sweet, romantic regency story. The evil villain, if you will, was obvious fairly quickly. But the two main characters seemed to mesh well together and I enjoyed the little side stories. I was a little off put by the determination the female protagonist had to never marry. It seemed to go against the rest of the story. But overall, it was an entertaining story that I enjoyed reading. I received this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
When Lady Sarah Emerson started getting letters about her cousin's death, she could think of only one person to go to for help, her cousin's former fiancee Gabriel Ferguson, the Duke of Rossmayne. She soons finds herself living with the duke and his mother in order to protect her from the letter writer. Having always thought the Gabriel was an intimidating man, she is confused by her attraction to him. Having never really noticed his former fiancee's cousin, Gabriel soon wonders how he could have missed seeing the beautiful and smart woman that was right in front of him. Planning to help Sarah and go back to India, he soon realizes that he might have a reason to stay. But he can't even begin to analyze his feelings until he knows that Sarah is safe and they find the person responsible for the letters. Could the madman that brought so much pain be the reason these two find an everlasting love? I loved this story!! I like that we have a wallflower that ends up blossoming! Sarah had always stood in the shadow of her more outgoing cousin. She didn't like going to parties and mingling with the ton. She really made herself invisible to those around her. But when she found something in which she had a passion for, she was a completely different person. She needed to find the person responsible for killing her cousin, who was like a sister to her. Breaking out of her comfort zone was much easier to do when she had something to fight for. I really liked Gabriel. He was reluctant to have Sarah participate in the investigation, but soon learned that there was no stopping her. It was better for her to be with him, than have her go off on her own. He soon learned that she wasn't as meek as he had thought. He allowed her to grow into the woman that she was meant to be. I'm really hoping that Montgomery will get his own story, but whatever Cullen puts out next will be on my must read list!! Thanks go out to Random House via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lady Sara was orphaned as a child and led a good life with her uncle and his family. Tragedy struck again, causing the family to separate; it also led to grief in the young Duke of Rossmoyne. Years later the horror has returned... A frightening mystery and budding romance lead to an enjoyable read. (Would like to learn how Sara's dream turned out!) Received book free thru Netgalley for honest review.
Sissymae1 More than 1 year ago
Sharon Cullen is another one of my favorite authors and this was another great read from her. Our heroine, Lady Sara Emerson has found that someone is out to hurt her just as they seem to have done with her cousin. Sara goes to her cousin former fiancé , Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne for help. Gabriel has been out of town and overseas, so he is a little taken back by seeing Sara again and the town. Gabriel decided to help Sara but plans to go back overseas after getting her the help she needs. This starts the story of their love and it grew. I really enjoyed this book and hope that you will too!!