Because the most dangerous lies
are the ones you tell your own self…
Oblivious of her true identity since birth, Abigail Thorne lives a quiet life working in her mother’s dressmaking shop. When a stunning nobleman enters the shop with his obnoxious fiancé, she is immediately enticed.
Suffering his parents’ sudden loss at a young age, Percival Montagu, Duke of Northcott, becomes enamored with the ravishing dressmaker and craves to make her his mistress. But he has made a lucrative deal and too much is at stake should he breaks it.
When a stolen jewel and a series of well-crafted events throw Abigail in gaol, her life is in peril. Percival is the only one who can save her from a terrible fate.
However, he doesn’t know that their pasts are sickeningly intertwined and something darker is connecting them…a shattering secret that should have been kept hidden, forever.
Percival Montagu, Duke of Northcott knows it’s time he takes a wife and produces an heir. His aunt Lady Martha Stanley has been very vocal about the subject and has a perfect candidate for him, Lady Rosaline Hoskins. The daughter of the Earl of Huntington, is well suited to become a Duchess, she has been raised to the role. Unwilling to face the Balls of the London season, Percival has his aunt invite the family to dinner to discuss the possible match.
Lady Rosaline was most excited and asks the Duke to accompany her to help pick fabric and style for her engagement ball gown. Less than enthused he agrees all the while thinking of ways to escape quickly. It’s during this outing that Percival first sees Abigail. She is the one who will be making Lady Roseline’s gown.
Percival couldn’t get Abigail Thorne out of his mind, and was beginning to re-think his upcoming engagement announcement. On the pretense of purchasing wraps and a redingote for his aunt he visits the shop alone. This visit results in an invitation to nuncheon as a walk in Hyde Park was out of the question for her.
This is a favorite scene.
At the stroke of noon, The Duke of Northcott darkened her doorway and she stared at him as if she had never seen him before.
She gestured for him to enter. “We-welcome, Your Grace.”
He took one step into the shop and then another, taking off his hat and making a leg to her, “Thank you, Miss Thorne.”
She led him, blushing, to the back room and he followed her with no demur, sitting where she directed him and watching as she plated some food for him. She smiled until her dimples showed, unable to help herself. It was exceedingly strange, sitting here with a Duke, having nuncheon and yet, being here with this man felt…fated.
“Here you are, Your Grace,” she said, handing him the plate.
“Please, call me Percival,” he replied softly and she could not help but color further.
“All right, Percival,” she took her seat, her own plate in front of her, “And you may call me Abigail.”
“Thank you,” he replied as if she were some high-born lady condescending to him. She took a deep shaky breath and picked up a piece of cheese, chewing thoughtfully as she regarded him—allowing herself to really examine him.
His height was obvious even when he was sitting and the breadth of his shoulders took her breath away. His elaborately tied azure cravat lightened the dark of his eyes while his white shirt provided just the right contrast to his golden waistcoat visible beneath his unbuttoned coat. Both sat on his broad shoulders and impressive chest as if molded to it and Abigail had the odd thought that she would like to just lay her palm flat on his chest and breathe in his sandalwood scent.
Perhaps do more than breathe…She shivered at the thought.
It was a ridiculous notion, of course, one which she would never act on. She cast about desperately for something else to say, to take her wayward mind away from its scandalous thoughts but he beat her to it.
“Tell me something, Abigail?”
She placed her cheese back on her plate and swallowed. “What would you like to know?”
“How did you come to be here?”
She raised an eyebrow, surprised at the question. Even though he was interested in her as evidenced by his presence in her backroom, she had not expected him to show curiosity about anything except, perhaps, a potential liaison between them. She held no illusions as to the direction of his interest. Her own quandary centered around the question of whether she would grant his wishes or not.
She reflected seriously on what his question might mean; whether he was speaking of here in the sense that she was sitting alone in a backroom with a man and no chaperone or else he meant here, in this shop, working as a modiste.
Perhaps it was both.
“I only mean to get to know you better, if you don’t mind,” he provided the clarification after studying her face closely. Perhaps he could see her confusion.
“I appreciate that. It is difficult to know where to start.”
He tilted his head becomingly to the side and smiled, “Start at the beginning,” he said.
She huffed, perfectly aware that he knew not the irony of his words, “Wish I knew what the beginning was,” she murmured, mostly to herself.
“Take your time, there is no hurry,” he encouraged, and she narrowed her eyes at him doubtfully.
“Isn’t there? I shall need to return to work and you probably have some duties that need doing.”
He gave her a smile, “Ah, but we can always continue the discourse at a later date,” he assured her and his words were more than a commentary on their conversation. He was saying that he wanted to see her again. Abigail did not know what to think about that.
T. Bennet, Olivia; Fairy, Cobalt. Secret Confessions of the Enticing Duchess: A Steamy Historical Regency Romance Novel (Kindle Locations 519-556). Olivia Bennet. Kindle Edition.
From this point things become more and more difficult as Lady Rosaline discovers her soon to be betrothed’s interest in her dressmaker. It seems Lady Rosaline has no intention of giving up her Duke and accused Abigail of theft. Not once but twice, the second far more serious than the first with Abigail ending up in Newgate prisonand that came after the Duke broke the engagement with Rosaline.
Abigail’s parentage comes into play, as she has never known much about him or the circumstances under which she came to be in London with her mother and her beau Phillip.
Plenty of intrigue as the Duke and her family do their very best to prove her innocence and find ways to keep her from hanging.
A fun read that takes us from the very beginning of the relationship, with lots of information on friendships and family. Theirs also some serious heat that flows between the Duke and Abigail, even before it hits the bedroom.
5 Contented Purrs for Olivia!
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Having obtained a degree in Journalism, but with an affinity for literature and creative writing, Olivia Bennet knew from a young age that her future lay in the romantic ideals of the past. With a fascination for the Regency era and a good romance, she started her career as a historical romance author the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper.
Born in rural Devon, Olivia draws inspiration from the vast farmlands of the British countryside and the people living in the surrounding villages. An avid artist, she takes her sketchbook everywhere with her and captures the beauty of nature, which she then incorporates into her books.