The Wicked Ways of a Duke (Girl-Bachelor Series #2)

The Wicked Ways of a Duke (Girl-Bachelor Series #2)

by Laura Lee Guhrke

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Overview

She thought she was the luckiest woman in London . . .

Surviving on a seamstress' income and a steady stream of fantasies, Prudence Bosworth has always longed for love and romance. Then she inherits a fortune from the father she's never seen, with the stipulation that she wed in one year. Prudence is determined to marry for true love, and after seeing firsthand the splendid chivalry of a certain duke, only one man will do . . .

Rhys de Winter, the Duke of St. Cyres, hides his cynicism behind a quick wit and an even quicker smile. He must marry an heiress, and as luck would have it, the pretty little seamstress-turned-heiress is exactly what he needs. But he never expected to fall for Prudence, and when his shocking deception is revealed, he will stop at nothing to win her back . . . even if it means renouncing every last one of his wicked ways.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061756344
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Girl-Bachelor Series , #2
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 39,784
File size: 837 KB

About the Author

Laura Lee Guhrke spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun.  A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Laura has penned over twenty-five historical romances. Her books have received many award nominations, and she is a two-time recipient of romance fiction’s highest honor: the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. She lives in the Northwest with her husband and two diva cats. Laura loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her via her website: www.lauraleeguhrke.com.

Read an Excerpt

Wicked Ways of a Duke, The

Chapter One

Duke of St. Cyres sinks to new depths of depravity! Peeking beneath young ladies' skirts at charity balls? We are appalled.

—Talk of the Town, 1894

Miss Prudence Bosworth's opinion of the incident in question would prove somewhat different from that of the society papers, but during the evening itself, she was unaware of what the scandal sheet scribblers would have to say and too busy to care. The goings-on of dukes, depraved or not, was of no concern to her.

For weeks now, she and the seamstresses under her at Madame Marceau's had been frantically making up gowns for the fashionable young ladies coming to London for the season, and at the moment, one of those gowns had a hem in need of repair. If Lady Alberta Denville would only stand still.

"Hurry up, Bosworth!" Lady Alberta jerked impatiently at her skirt, ripping the blond silk away from the seed pearl trim in Prudence's fingers, tearing the fabric in the process. "Must you be so slow?"

Prudence sat back on her heels, staring in dismay at this new damage to the gown. And she'd been nearly finished. She pushed damp hair back from her forehead and reached into her sewing basket for her spool of gold thread and her scissors. "I shall try to sew faster, my lady," she murmured, striving to maintain the air of humble, apologetic deference so necessary to her position.

"You had best do more than try! The Duke of St. Cyres has engaged me for the next dance, and it could be the most important event of my life. He's just returned from Italy, and he's looking to marry, you know."

Prudence didn't know and didn't much care. This ball was the first significant social event of the season, and the preparations of the past few days had been grueling, with little time for either food or rest. Missing meals she didn't mind so much. As the lead seamstress for a fashionable London dressmaker, she was acutely conscious of her plump figure, and was always making attempts to reduce its proportions. Sleep, however, was a different matter. She longed to go home to her cozy flat in Little Russell Street and crawl into bed, but knew rest was a good twelve hours away at least. "Yes, my lady. Of course."

These subservient murmurs did not seem to placate Lady Alberta. The young lady heaved an aggravated sigh, folded her arms, and tapped one satin-slippered foot on the floor, fuming. "I cannot believe this is happening to me. First, Sir George Laverton treads on my lovely dress and tears it, the clumsy oaf. And then I find myself saddled with the slowest seamstress in Madame Marceau's employ."

The seamstress in question decided she was saddled with the most odious debutante. Such a pity she couldn't say so. Prudence set her jaw, reminded herself that self-restraint helped to build one's character, and sewed as fast as she could.

"If your ineptness causes me to miss this waltz and lose my chance with Rhys," the girl went on, "Madame Marceau shall hear of it."

A pang of alarm shot through Prudence at those words. It had taken her eleven years of hard work to be elevated to the position of lead seamstress, and with one unfavorable word from Lady Alberta, she could lose her post in an instant. Lord Denville was one of the few peers in Britain able to pay tradesmen's bills promptly, and his daughters were some of Madame Marceau's most valued clients. Without pausing in her work, Prudence took as deep and steadying a breath as she could manage in her tight stays. "Yes, my lady."

Another silk skirt moved into Prudence's line of vision. "Planning your wedding to St. Cyres, are you, Alberta?" a laughing feminine voice inquired, a voice that to Prudence's ears was tinged with malice. "A bit precipitate, don't you think, to leap from acquaintanceship to matrimony because of one waltz?"

"I've a better chance of securing him than most, Helen Munro, and you know it. Our families possess some adjoining lands and we've known each other all our lives."

"All your life, you mean. Don't you think you're a bit young for St. Cyres? He's thirty-three, my dear, and you're barely twenty. To him, you are still a child."

"I'm not! It's true I was only eight when he went away, but he certainly doesn't see me as a child any longer. Why, the moment he set eyes on me again, he engaged me for a waltz. It must mean something."

"I daresay it does!" another woman said, joining the conversation with a laugh. "Home less than a week, and he's already ascertained the amount of your dowry and income!"

"He'll need every penny of it, too," Helen Munro assured her companions. "St. Cyres likes to live well, and he's head over ears in debt, they say. The fact that he's inherited the title from his uncle won't save him from the creditors. The old duke's debts were ten times greater than his, and the estates are a shambles. Munro and I are in Derbyshire every summer to stay with Lord and Lady Tavistock, and I've seen for myself the sorry state of St. Cyres Castle. It's a deserted ruin. God only knows what condition the other ducal estates must be in."

"Winter Park looks well enough," Lady Alberta answered. "We'd live there, of course, since those St. Cyres lands adjoin ours. As for his debts, most peers have those. Not my own papa, of course. He has heaps of money."

"Yes, and London has heaps of pretty American heiresses who'd love to snare a duke and whose fathers have far more money than yours!"

"Americans? They've no breeding at all. Rhys would never choose an American to be his duchess."

"Those American girls have a great deal of charm."

Lady Alberta seemed undaunted. "I am much more charming than any dreadful American." She gave Prudence's knee a none-too-gentle kick with her foot. "For heaven's sake, Bosworth, aren't you finished yet?"

Wicked Ways of a Duke, The. Copyright © by Laura Lee Guhrke. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Wicked Ways of a Duke (Girl-Bachelor Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1894 London impoverished seamstress Prudence Bosworth dreams of Prince Charming sweeping her off her aching feet. She has no hope of her fantasy turning into reality until she inherits a fortune from a father she never knew existed. However, the will contains a stipulation to obtain the money Prudence must be married or get nothing.------------- Having no prospects and though she would prefer to marry for love, Prudence believes that Duke Rhys De Winter is a kind person, who would treat her nice. However, she has only seen the Duke perform his one kindness of the century instead he is a rogue who needs money so he willingly agrees to wed the naive heiress. They marry and everything is great until she learns the truth about her scoundrel spouse, who must persuade his wife that he loves her.--------------- This is an engaging Victorian romance that sub-genre fans will enjoy due to the changing relationship between the lead couple. She loves and respects him while he likes and disrespects her that changes when he falls in love while she detests him. Fans will appreciate this late nineteenth century Guys and Dolls romance.---------------- Harriet Klausner
aromagik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Half way through & he's still a jerk & she's a ninny. Pass.
theshadowknows on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Wicked Ways of a Duke returns to familiar territory for Guhrke - at least for a long while it seemed a lot like The Marriage Bed to me - only here we get to see the whole sad story of betrayed love and lost innocence enacted before our very eyes, rather than having it considered in retrospect as the characters recover from the lies ten years down the road in an attempt at reconciliation. In effect, Rhys de Winter, the Duke of St. Cyres, impoverished and debt-ridden, pursues Prudence Bosworth, a former working girl turned million dollar heiress. He takes advantage of her and encourages her love, all the while keeping his own heart inviolate. A right sneaky bastard, no? The first half of the book - the wooing part - was kind of like watching a train wreck for me. One part fascinating, two parts horrible - not out of any moral sensibilities outraged by the hero's blatantly devious machinations. He's very good at playing the poor girl. He¿s a consummate actor and crafty plotter, so I was more impressed by his evil skills than scandalized. It also helps that, even though he manipulates Prudence with more deliberate, elaborate intent than John from The Marriage Bed, Rhys is also a lot more accessible and human than John, and I can tell from the start that his fall is inevitable, if not imminent. And a hard one it will be too. (With John, such comeuppance is a big question mark. But why am I rattling on about John and The Marriage Bed¿ back to the review.) Of course there are also hints at Rhys¿ tortured past to tug at my heartstrings and make me appreciate the act he puts on, not only for Prudence, but for everyone, including himself, so that he can keep the past and its dark secrets at bay. So it¿s established I like Rhys. Too bad I can¿t say the same about Prudence. Blech. With regards to Rhys¿ wooing of said milquetoast, really where's the fun in victory over such an easy target? For most of the book Prudence is such a push over, a Mary Sue goody two shoes doormat mooning over her white night and so so happy that she's found twue wuve. She's gullible and silly and i just wanted to shake some sense into her, she so got on my nerves. And at the same time I felt sorry for her, that she's so naïve. Is she really supposed to be 28?? Add in her bland personality (in a nutshell, she's "sweet," that's it) and she's completely outmatched, intellectually and in terms of maturity, by a hero who is also very charming, debonair, and oh so wickedly witty. The fallen angel type. Usually that description is used far too liberally throughout romance novels, but here it suits Rhys, particularly since his well hidden/smothered romantic side is so believable. Even while he's busy with all his scheming, you can tell that Rhys is falling for Prudence, if only because she is the epitome of goodness and innocence, sweetness and decency, an ideal that has been completely lacking from his own life. Then, on page 250 the book does a complete 180, switches gears, and knocks me off my feet. I'm reading a different book, not what I thought I was reading. It becomes more than a boring, one-sided farce of a romance and starts to shine. How could this have happened? Well, I got a better idea of why Rhys is so tortured, and it's enough of a reason, and handled sensitively enough to make him more than your average rake. (Maybe his big secret was obvious, but I didn¿t completely catch on till this point.) It also helped me understand why he would be paired with a heroine like Prudence, why she appeals to him, why she's even perfect for him, maybe. She's still annoying, still cloyingly sweet, still just a prop for the emotional upheaval and healing undergone by Rhys, but for a long while now, the book has been all about Rhys for me, so I don't mind, even if it makes for an unbalanced story and romance. But the book barely rises above the morass of mediocrity before, about 50 pages later, it slips back in, overcome by its tired
Shy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The heroine, Prudence, comes into an inheritance from the father she never knew. Going from struggling seamstress to a very wealthy heiress, but with certain stipulations that need to be met or the money is passed off to others. She must marry within a year and to a man the trustees approve of. So her neglectful aunt and uncle enter the scene only all too eager to give Prudence (who is no youngling, thank goodness) the best, bought with her money of course. Enters the Duke, Rhys needs to find an heiress fast, for after inheriting the Dukedom he also inherited even more debts. But Rhys is a cynic who unlike Prudence doesn¿t believe in marrying for love; all he needs is wealthy wife. Also Rhys did not have a happy filled childhood, but I won¿t go into that, and even though it haunts him, it¿s really only discussed in detail once and quick at that. Rhys and Prudence meet early on in the book, she as a seamstress, and him on the hunt for his next duchess. Lucky for him he came off as a gallant in Prudence¿s eyes and again later that night, a true hero, which Rhys uses to his advantage later on. Prudence was a strong heroine, except for her naivety, which I admit was annoying at times. Rhys manipulated her pretty good, and ends up falling in love with her, but alas he realizes too late and she doesn¿t believe him. The only real complaint is that the ending seemed a bit rushed, but the epilogue had a funny surprise. Also it might have to do with the series if you want to call it that, but if you¿ve read And Then He Kissed Her you might notice that both Emma and Prudence are propose too in the same room, and there was something else that struck me as very similar scene wise, but I can¿t remember what it was. I would recommend this, I read it in four hours.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a solid read, kept me reading till the end. Enjoyed it, quite nice lite read
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A must read.
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