for the Trapped Duchess
Her tender heart called out
to his battle scarred soul…
When her godfather, the Duke of Eldbrick, takes her under his wing to help her secure a good marriage and save her family, Miss Emily Pennington is elated. Elation that is coupled with no small amount of guilt. Emily has a dark secret: she’s in love with the Duke’s son.
Richard McKinnon, the second son of the Duke of Eldbrick’s had a single lifeline during his days in the army: memories of Emily. Returned and haunted by his experiences, he has yet another cross to bear. His impending nuptials to a lady he doesn’t love.
When rumours of impropriety spur out of thin air, Emily is suddenly engaged, robbing Richard of his last chance at solace. Determined to defeat his demons and rescue her from a life of misery, Richard does the extreme: losing himself amidst the remnants of an old crime, the target he places on his back is painted in blood. And someone is already taking aim…
When Emily’s mother fell ill, her father sends her to London to her godfather the Duke of Eldbrick. She is best friends with the Dukes daughter Lucinda, which makes this arrangement most pleasant as they attention all the seasons social events together. On one particular occasion it’s Richard the Duke’s second son who escorts them to be their chaperone. Unfortunately his injured leg begins to bother him along with the noise and he seeks solace in the upstairs library.
Emily had noticed Richard’s discomfort and followed him. She above all others seems to soothe him and although she shouldn’t be alone with him, he enjoys her presence. Now while nothing untoward happens, Richard does kiss her and unfortunately someone saw her enter the library. Rumors start flying and Emily’s father shows up angry and demands her return home. He plans on announcing her engagement to Dorian, the Duke of Hartcoll, immediately following their return.
Her father forbids her from letting her mother know she is back home, but she sends a note telling her of the engagement. Her mother’s only reply is that she can’t marry the Duke. She also pens a note to Lucinda about her circumstance. It’s Lucinda who gets Richard involved after relaying the rumors that he killed his first wife and is involved in many shady business dealings.
With an investigator hired, and Lucinda sent off to help Emily prepare for her wedding, suspense and intrigue ramp up. But it’s Richard’s visit that gives Emily hope.
This is a favorite scene.
In the darkness, Emily was only vaguely comforted by the presence of her good friend sleeping soundly on another bed nearby. The unfamiliar room, John’s old chamber into which they had struggled to move Andrew’s bed, cast shadows along the wall with each sway of the willow tree’s thin branches. She couldn’t help but envision them as ropes, held aloft by sinister and unseen hands, ready to bind her and keep her prisoner.
“Oh!” Lucinda cried, sitting up in alarm. Emily turned to look at her.
“Lucinda, shh. It’s all right, you’re only dreaming,” Emily reassured her.
“No, what is the hour? I did not mean to fall asleep, I’ve ruined everything!” Lucinda cried in response, flinging back her bed clothes and hurrying to the window. “Has Christina come in?”
“What? No, why should she?” Emily asked, watching with confusion as Lucinda hurried about the room.
“She was to alert me at once the moment your father returned from London. She has not come in, so he must not be here,” Lucinda answered, as though that explanation as sufficient.
“Lucinda, I’m not certain you’re fully awake,” Emily said with a soft laugh. “You’re not making any sense, I’m sure you must still be dreaming.”
“No, I’m not dreaming,” she promised vehemently, handing Emily a dressing gown to put on. “Richard is waiting for you, you must hurry!”
“Pardon me? Richard is here?” Emily asked, the realization of Lucinda’s panic finally dawning. “But how?”
“It was all contrived before my arrival, but hurry,” Lucinda whispered impatiently, already opening the door and pulling on Emily’s arm. “I’ll go down first and see to it that your father is not at home.”
Lucinda disappeared down the darkened staircase, leaving Emily to shiver in anticipation. How could Richard possibly be here? And how was she to meet him under cover of night, perhaps playing out the great wrong that she had been accused of, the wrong that had resulted in her forced betrothal to a man with a dark past?
“If I am already to suffer the punishment of such a crime, then I might as well enjoy the spoils of such a loving but chaste encounter,” Emily said firmly, ignoring the disapproving scowls of the few portraits that still hung in the hall.
“Psst! Come down!” Lucinda hissed as she leaned into the staircase. Emily hurried down, stopping only to embrace her friend. Lucinda smiled deviously. “Richard waits in the garden. I will go to your room and hide in your bed, lest anyone think to look in on you.”
“You are as brilliant as you are benevolent,” Emily whispered in her ear. “I cannot thank you enough for all this.”
“Go, I will wait upstairs,” Lucinda insisted before hurrying off.
Emily tiptoed down to the door that led out from the kitchens, taking care not to trip or stumble. Her thin slippers let her feel every board, every crack in the stone steps that led outside.
Once she emerged from the house, Emily had only to look to the back of the great hall to find the silhouette of a tall man, one who alternated between walking slowly the length the low garden wall and stopping to look up at the windows above him. Her heart raced as she recognized Richard at once, having spent these three years admiring him or longing for him.
“Richard, I’m here,” Emily said quietly once she reached the garden wall.
He hurried to the low wall that separated them and smiled down at her, taking her hands in his. Keeping the barricade between them, Richard sat down on the wall and gestured for her to do the same, turning his body lithely to face her.
“Emily, I’ve missed you so much,” Richard began, his features instantly clouding with worry. “How have you fared?”
“It has been a trial, to be sure,” she confessed, looking down to avoid his gaze. “And I must confess that I am heartsick over my fate.”
“Do not be troubled, I am attempting a solution even at this very moment,” he said insistently. “I have my deep reservations about the character of the Duke as it is, and—”
“Wait a moment,” Emily said, interrupting and holding Richard’s hand tighter. “You have reservations? It is very odd, as I have also received word from my mother that I must not marry him.”
“What? What did she say?” Richard demanded, turning more in earnest to look at Emily.
She shook her head. “I don’t know anything further, only that she said she would explain it in due course, but I must not marry him.”
“And what does your father say in light of such an urgent request?”
“Nothing, I have not seen my father. He’s been to London, and as much as I know, he has not returned.” Emily instinctively looked over her shoulder towards the drive to ensure her father was not approaching.
“Hmm, that is puzzling,” Richard agreed, briefly looking lost in thought as he sought to make sense of it. “It would be helpful to know your mother’s thoughts on the man, but it is of no consequence.”
“I must not have heard you correctly,” Emily said, laughing sardonically. “You say it is of no consequence that I am to marry against my wishes, against my mother’s wishes, and against all our better judgement?”
His expression softened as he pressed one of Emily’s hands to his lips and said, “Of course not. I meant only this. I will find a way to prevent the wedding, and then to marry you, if you will have me.”
Patricia Haverton. A Wounded Soldier for the Trapped Duchess: A Historical Regency Romance Novel (Kindle Locations 1466-1511). Patricia Haverton
We follow Tapper’s investigation into the Duke and are party to all the conversations as well as the reports to Richard and his brother Christopher. Then there is the Duchess of Eldbrick who is trying to arrange Richard’s marriage to a most annoying young lady, Lady Alvena.
Plenty of suspense and intrigue with laughter, tears, surprises and a romance that will not be denied.
5 Contented Purrs for Patricia!
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Born the oldest of three children, Patricia Haverton grew up believing that she’d follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue a career in science. However, her worldview changed when she decided to explore her British mother’s roots. The trip to her ancestral lands solidified her conviction that she had found her true calling in the romanticism of the Era of Kings and Queens.
A hopeless romantic and a firm believer in the idea of soulmates, Patricia changed the course of her life and decided to get her degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. As she jokingly says ever so often, “she lives in the past now, where love shows the way and Dukes save the day!”
When she’s not weaving tales of love that prevails, Patricia enjoys spending time with her husband, roaming the British countryside, where they have been living in for the past decade.
Now would be the time to let yourself go and experience the true magic of the Regency Era! Let your imagination run wild, live amazing adventures through the eyes of brave heroes! Like the legendary wise wizard, Patricia will be your guide!