He has allowed his need for her
to enslave him…
Eleanor Betham has been chasing shadows ever since she can remember.
Taken in by a noble family as a baby, her life has been governed by a single desire: to find out who her biological parents really are. Her plans are put on hold when the Lady she serves becomes engaged and she is asked to accompany her to his manor.
To Aaron Ayles, Duke of Durnsott, marriage is a cage. One specifically designed to trap him. It all changes, however, when he meets his betrothed’s lady’s maid, and suddenly all he can think of is spending the rest of his life tangled in Eleanor’s heart. And her bedsheets.
But as Aaron and Eleanor quickly realize, the truth has a price. And this one just might be steeper than what they are willing to pay. For the truth of Eleanor’s birth lies in a star, and the only way to discover it is to give up Aaron’s life…
The dowager Duchess of Durnsott is determined that her step-son Aaron, the current Duke of Durnsott marry. To that end she invites the lady in question and her mother for a visit.
Lady Julia is very excited about the news as she relates it to her lady’s maid Eleanor. They would be gone for three weeks during which the Duke and Julia are to get to know each other with Eleanor as her primary chaperone.
Aaron on the other hand when his step-mother informs him of the visit and the intent behind it was less than pleased. He has no intention of marrying anytime soon. The Dowager Duchess really has to come to terms with the fact she cannot dictate his life the way she did his father’s. Since the invitation has been accepted he can’t cancel. Lord and Lady Whitecier hold a powerful seat and he can’t afford to insult them.
With sudden inspiration he invites his best-friend Arthur, the Viscount of Mallen. Arthur would come to support him and also be a sounding board or voice of reason.
When they arrive Aaron gets a bit of a surprise. For it’s not Lady Julia that captivates him but her lady’s maid.
This is a favorite scene.
The carriage came to a stop, and one of the footmen jumped down off of the back, opening the door. Aaron stepped forward, offering his hand to help first Lady Whitecier, and then Lady Julia down.
“Lady Whitecier,” he said, bowing over their clasped hands. “It’s good to see you again.”
“And you as well, Your Grace,” she replied. She was fair haired, blue eyed, an older version of her daughter. “I cannot thank you enough for inviting us to Myrtlegrove Manor. This is my daughter, Lady Julia, whom you have met before, though long ago.”
Like her mother, Lady Julia was fair haired and blue eyed. She was dressed in a light blue, with a cream bonnet— as pretty as a painting. She smiled at him kindly. He held out his hand, which she placed her gloved one in.
“My Lady,” he said, bowing low. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Your Grace,” she replied, curtsying. “It is a pleasure to see you again.”
“It has been a very long while,” he said. For he only remembered her as a child. She had grown into a very beautiful lady.
Behind the ladies, two ladies’ maids had climbed down out of the carriage. One was a stern-looking older woman. The other caught his eye. She was uncommonly beautiful. She had dark-brunette hair, and ethereal green eyes. Her chin was sharp, and she seemed almost one of the fey folk, albeit dressed in a plain gray maid’s uniform with a white pinafore over the top. When she raised her eyes to meet his, she glanced away.
His step-mother had already whisked Lady Whitecier toward the house. Jack was trailing after them, leaving Lady Julia and Aaron a small way behind in a move that felt calculated. He looked at her and smiled.
“What a difference ten years makes, Your Grace! I wouldn’t have recognized you,” she said, and they both laughed. He glanced toward the maid, noticing that she had a book, tucked underneath her arm.
“Nor I you. Did you have a good journey, My Lady?” he asked Lady Julia, offering her his arm. She tucked her hand into the bend of his elbow.
“It went very well,” she replied. “Eleanor and I were saying that the rolling hills out this way are uncommonly green.”
“Is that so?” he asked, glancing at the lady’s maid, who smiled easily.
“I have nothing to compare it to, Your Grace,” she replied. She lowered her gaze, blushing. Aaron was surprised by how aroused he felt when he beheld that blush on her pretty face. He couldn’t help but notice how her tall, slender form even made the plain maid’s uniform look elegant. He cleared his throat, looking away.
“It is Eleanor’s first time away from my Father’s manor,” Lady Julia supplied.
“Welcome to Myrtlegrove Manor,” he told her. Eleanor had fallen into step beside them, though she was on the other side of Lady Julia, for which he was relieved.
“Thank you, Your Grace.”
“We do live practically in London,” Lady Julia stated. “We don’t often see rolling hills of green. It’s very flat, unless you count all of the buildings.”
He found that Lady Julia was not anything like he’d expected. She seemed intelligent and kind. She seemed to be on very good terms with her lady’s maid.
But it was not Lady Julia who captivated him. It was her maid. An impossible conquest, particularly for a future Duke. He shook it off. He needed to consider Lady Julia seriously. Perhaps his step-mother had found him a good match in an Earl’s daughter.
Scarlett Osborne. Undressed to Impress the Duke: A Steamy Regency Romance (Kindle Locations 186-215). Scarlett Osborne.
While Aaron does his duty to get to know Lady Julia, he also gets to know Eleanor. She’s Julia’s chaperone and goes everywhere with her unless her mother is present.
Aaron’s step-brother Jack is paying a lot of attention to Lady Julia as well. As you might imagine there is definitely something afoot. Arthur is a frequent presence as well and he help provide some interference so Aaron can spend some time with Eleanor.
These two are falling fast and hard for each other but there’s the problem of Julia. Although it seems she may be falling for Jack.
Aaron has spies in his household and Eleanor falls victim to blackmail. That is until the unexpected happens.
Things get more than a little bit twisted with lots of intrigue not to mention there is plenty of sizzle between Eleanor and Aaron. Such a delightful and devious read!
5 Contented Purrs for Scarlett!
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Born in the Sunshine State of Florida, but of both British and Nordic descent, Scarlett Osborne grew up reading historical romances from the land of her ancestors. Fascinated with the British society of the 1800s and armed with a wild imagination, she obtained a degree in Creative Writing and immediately started her career as a Regency romance author.
A daydreamer extraordinaire, Scarlett likes to jump in the shoes of her heroines, immersing herself in her own stories, living the adventures that she wished she had experienced as a child. An avid reader and fan of the outdoors, Scarlett spends her free time either reading or going on long horseback rides along with her two sons.
Get lost in a land of enchantment, where adventure and love await around every corner…Scarlett hopes that through her heroes, you too will get to live a whirlwind romance in the Regency era, when fairytales were real and all dreams possible!