“I don’t want your best. I want your everything.”
Everyone expects Lady Helena to marry her way up the social ladder.
Once scandal takes control, she’s forced to go against those wishes. After the accident that left her blind, she made a promise to herself; never marry for anything less than love. But she never expected the Duke of Hartwick to show up and steal her innocence…
David Barrington, the Duke of Hartwick, lives in the shadows of his past. Tainted by criminal ways, his present is miserable and his future looks bleak. When a single slip-up gets him But involved with Helena, the one woman he never wanted to see again, he’s forced to confront his old ways in the boldest way possible.
Refusing to even so much as touch each other, they soon find out that perhaps love and passion are more wicked than they thought. But fast they need to be because David’s criminal past is back. And this time, vengeance wants to sink its bloody teeth in the one thing that taught him to live again…
Lady Helena was seventeen when a fire burned down her childhood home. The fire took more than the home it also took her sight and the life of her mother. She’s been fortunate in she has recovered somewhat but still can only see shadows and colors, not enough to determine object or person though. Her maid and companion, Jenny, has been by her side since that terrible day, a true blessing because Jenny’s mother Ruthie was born blind. Ruthie is a wonderful cook at another estate and the knowledge of all that has proven invaluable to Jenny and Helena as well. Helena doesn’t think of her blindness as an affliction but more of an inconvenience, one she is most capable of handling.
David Barrington, the Duke of Hartwick, while busy with his estate and business, also finds the time to help at his club. At the moment he helps vet new members and approves the ordering of supplies. While he is of marrying age, he hasn’t given it much thought until he receives a letter from Octavius Bryton, the Earl of Sherriden requesting a meeting with regards to his daughter Lady Helena.
This is a surprise to David since he thought Lady Helena had also died in that fire 10 years ago. The meeting brought to light other facts about Lady Helena as well as the request for him to consider her a possible match. David wasn’t going to agree without meeting her and it’s arranged for the three of them to meet at a local teahouse for an afternoon tea.
This is one of my favorite scenes.
Lord Sherriden smiled, then looked over his shoulder in what was, to David, a very obviously planned move.
“Oh, look!” he said. “There is one of my dearest friends just across the room. Do you mind terribly if I just pop across and say good afternoon?”
David tried to stop the knowing smile from growing on his face. There was no friend— or, at least, he doubted it greatly. This was a ploy to give the two of them a few moments to themselves. Seeing the glint of hope in the Earl’s eye confirmed it.
“Not at all, My Lord,” David replied. “We shall be quite all right here, won’t we, My Lady?”
“Excellent. I shan’t be long, and I’ll only be a few tables away.”
Lord Sherriden rose from his seat and threw David a last encouraging grin before moving away. Neither he nor Lady Helena said another word, and David found a sudden and deep interest in the stain his teaspoon had left on the tablecloth.
The lack of conversation was uncomfortable at best. David looked everywhere but at Lady Helena, not wanting her to sense him staring, while she looked only directly in front of her. Across the room, David saw the Earl talking to his friend, but also glancing their way every few seconds.
Eventually, David decided that he needed to at least make an effort, and when he spoke, he put an edge of cheerfulness to it.
“Have you ever been—”
“Don’t feel you have to make polite conversation, Your Grace,” Helena interrupted, still staring forward, still unmoving. “I think we can both admit that neither of us has any interest in what the other has to say.”
“I don’t think—”
“Your Grace, if you please. I am not here willingly, wanting only to please my Father. And this marriage, if there will be such a thing, will be one of convenience rather than consent. So let me reiterate, there is really no need to force a conversation where there is not naturally one.”
“Well!” David was outraged by her words and the brazen way she spoke them. She was far from the sweet, innocent young lady he thought her to be. “I don’t believe I have ever met anyone quite so rude and disrespectful.”
“And yet I know you agree,” she said simply.
“If you truly wanted to make your Father happy, My Lady, you would be eager to engage in conversation, as that is so clearly what he wants.”
“Except he is currently not at the table, and therefore there is no need for us to pretend.”
They sniped at each other in hushed tones, wary of neighboring ears that might pry on their business. Their words flew rapidly from one to the other, and David felt an irritated heat rising up in him.
“The longer I sit here, the more I wonder why I agreed to this meeting either,” he said, feeling the frown on his face deepening. “For I certainly wouldn’t want to live with someone like you for the rest of my life.”
“Well then perhaps you should refuse it,” she snapped back. “Why are you here, anyway? A Duke courting a lowly Earl’s daughter— and a blind one at that. What exactly is it you are after?”
“After!” He scoffed at her words, his eyes widening in fury and annoyance. “Your Father suggested this meeting to me, and I agreed on the notion that you would be at least a half-way decent young lady, not someone so cold and hard as you so obviously are.”
She turned to face him directly, and he could see the flaring of her nostrils as his words hit home. He couldn’t help but feel at least a little smug that he had succeeded in irking her as much as she had vexed him. He even smiled, and it was then that he realized he was finding the argument exciting. Enjoyable, even.
As curious as it sounded, he couldn’t remember a time when he felt even half as passionate and fiery as he did at that very moment. Infuriating and unfriendly though she may be, she brought out in him a heat he had not known existed within him. He had to bite back a laugh, knowing it would not be appreciated. He licked his lips and looked down at his hands instead, and their bickering stopped, simmering just beneath the surface.
“How is your tea?” he asked after a moment of gathering himself.
“The same as yours, no doubt,” she replied. “So you already know how it is.”
He couldn’t stop it then, the laughter that bubbled up inside him. He snorted, then immediately apologized, but when he looked at her, he found that she was giggling also.
“This is not quite how I imagined our meeting to go, I must admit,” he said softly.
“Me neither,” she agreed.
“It isn’t working, is it? Our getting to know one another.”
“I think it has at least shown how poorly suited we are for one another,” she said. “Something for you to report back to my Father.”
The heavy stone in his stomach weighed him down with dread and worry. She was right, of course, they were far from suited. And yet his guilt pushed him on, refusing to allow him to give up. It would not be he would told Lord Sherriden they were not well matched. If Lady Helena had no desire to marry him, then she needed to tell her father herself.
Scarlett Osborne. The Blind Duchess and her Wicked Duke: A Steamy Regency Romance (Kindle Locations 751-794). Scarlett Osborne.
In spite of Lady Helena’s bristly attitude, David is determined not to be the one to refuse this match. Lady Helena also will not back down from it since it brings such joy to her father. He does want the best for her after all.
Now David makes several errors as these to enter matrimony. I think the biggest was not allowing her to bring Jenny with her to help adjust to a new household. One she would be responsible for running day to day. Another is not informing anyone other than his cook that he is bringing home a guest for dinner. That was very amusing although it does work out well, and provides some interesting information that ties in with something Jenny had mentioned regarding a trip to the market.
David’s part in said fire is something we get bits and pieces of as we listen in on his thoughts. This aspect of his life also colors the intimacy or rather lack of in his marriage.
An enjoyable, funny, intriguing journey into the past with a relationship that develops slowly to a simmer and eventually to sizzle.
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!