She is held captive by his kisses.
And she never wants to be free…
The streets of London are the only home Mary Ann Allen has ever known.
Cursed to grow up with thieves, her life has been one of pain and fear. With her disability deeming her useless by the people around her, she has nothing to look forward to. That is, until an alluring, handsome stranger comes to her rescue.
Thomas Comeford, the Duke of Solorett, lives an enviable life. But his heart and mind dwell on what society scorns. With more than one secret to hide, an undercover visit to the slums proves life-changing when he stumbles upon Mary Ann. A woman who holds sinful power over him…
With society’s chains coiling around him, Thomas is forced to face reality. A reality, however, that proves to be nothing but a corrupted view of the truth. A letter that falls into his and Mary Ann’s hands speaks of a crime from twenty-five years ago. A crime that has yet to be completed.
Thomas Comeford, the Duke of Solorett is a bit of a workaholic so his mother Elisa, the Dowager Duchess, implores him to take some time away at their country estate. While he concedes the point, he has no intention of going to the estate, but rather to another property known as Creakys. Creakys is a two story home in the countryside that had been a hideaway for his great great grandfather. Now Thomas planned to use it as his own, at least for a few days.
He also does some things that give his butler James more than a little pause. One of those things is going out to a local tavern that first day. Of course he doesn’t really fit in and the woman assisting the barkeep kept ignoring him. It seemed he should have been calling out his order and then it would be delivered to him. The woman intrigues him and as he is heading home he sees her being accosted by couple of men. His initial rescue however becomes far more, as he and the woman end up fleeing from five men.A vendor is their saving grace and Mary Ann hopes to separate from him. Fate has other ideas for him as he finds himself lost.
Mary Ann does get him home, but then he comes up with a reason he would be there, and his poor butler James has to go along with it and pretend to be the Duke.
This is a favorite scene.
I can wager he’s lying.
Mary Ann thought after spending what seemed like an eternity standing outside of the house. She hadn’t moved more than a few steps around afraid to be seen by the real occupants of the hose.
How could I be this gullible? I bet he is a con man.
She had contemplated leaving but that would only make her seem like a coward. She was anything but that.
The fact that night was already upon the added to her dilemma.
She looked up to the black sky decorated with stars, moving her fingers down her hair nervously.
I should just leave.
She took a step toward the path that they had come from.
“Are you leaving now?” a voice asked from behind.
“That took quite a while,” she said sounding more concerned than annoyed. “You could have been caught. I meant it when I said I would turn you in to the authorities. What kind of robber are you?”
Her words kept coming but there was no reply.
“Have you gone deaf?” she asked impatiently.
Due to the dark surroundings, she could not see his amused smile.
“His Grace awaits your presence,” he said.
“What?” Mary Ann snapped, already annoyed.
“Come along, you do not want to keep His Grace waiting.” he said, holding the door open for her.
Slowly, Mary Ann walked toward the door, then turned to look at him. She could now see him clearly under the street light.
“Who are you really?” she asked.
“I am just a butler,” he said smiling at her. His face looked more pleasing the longer she stared at it.
“All right,” she said after a long pause. As she stepped into the house, she could pick up a very pleasant scent. It was the same nice fragrance she had smelled when she was close to Thomas earlier. She slowly examined her surroundings but there was not much in the room. Along with the beautiful candles that hung on the wall, there was a large painting. It consisted of a middle-aged man in noble attire bending to kiss a younger lady who was dressed in a less-fancy dress. Before she could ask who they were, she was pulled away by Thomas.
“I do not want to keep the master waiting any longer than we already have,” he complained.
He took her through two more rooms, each having different paintings of the middle-aged man and the lady. She had also briefly glimpsed a painting of children in one of the rooms. Though curious about the paintings, they did not stay on her mind long as all she could think about was his touch. The tenderness warmed her from being out in the cold.
“We are here,” he announced in a low voice as they arrived at a door.
“Of course, we are,” Mary Ann responded sarcastically.
When he finally let go of her, she could still feel his fingers on her wrist. He entered with Mary Ann tailing closely behind him. At first, she did not see any one else in the room. She was preoccupied with the breathtaking embellishments of the room. It had many paintings on the wall like the other rooms. One had the same man standing with his foot on a slain lion. She continued to look around the room when a figure caught her attention. He was older than the supposed butler but not as old as the man in the paintings. His beard and mustache were mostly shaved off with a few strands of hair visible. His hair was sparkling, as if it and just been oiled. His face looked rough and somewhat ugly.
Could this be?
She did not get the time to finish her thought when Thomas spoke in a loud voice…
“It is my pleasure to introduce His Grace, James Comeford.”
The Duke walked over gracefully and met them halfway.
“Your Grace,” Thomas bowed and Mary Ann curtsied.
By the time she rose to a stand, she noticed that the Duke had also moved but could not quite figure out what he did. At first, she thought that he had also bowed as they did, but she quickly threw off the silly thought.
That is very strange, she thought.
The Duke had not said a word but only stared at her which made her a bit comfortable. She had never been around a noble before so she wondered if all nobles were as awkward as the Duke of Solorett.
“Your Grace, allow me to introduce Mary Ann. She is from this area of town.” Thomas introduced her as if they were old friends.
“It is nice to meet you, ma—” he paused and once again, she caught him staring, this time at Thomas who had now shriveled up behind her.
He looked away as soon as he realized Mary Ann had noticed the exchange.
“P… p… pardon me, it is nice to have you in my abode. I have heard so much about you in little time.”
“It is an honor, Your Grace.”
The awkward behavior of the Duke made her wary and she turned to take a peek at Thomas. His entertained look softened as their eyes met. As she turned back around, she realized her heart was beating quickly and she was quivering softly.
How embarrassing! she thought as she tried to fight back a blush.
After much trial and failure, she lowered her head in hopes that neither the Duke nor the butler could see.
“My butler will show you around, and attend to your every need.” the Duke slowly said, as if picking his words carefully.
She moved to decline the offer but he raised his hand in objection.
“I insist. It is the least I can do for all the trouble Your—” he paused again and stared at the floor for a few seconds before continuing his words. “My butler, Thomas, has said a lot about you and the help you offered to him. Not many people would do the same given the opportunity. So, allow me to show my appreciation,” he explained.
Scarlett Osborne. A Fiery Duchess for the Dashing Duke: A Steamy Regency Romance (Kindle Locations 986-1037). Scarlett Osborne.
The time spent here leads to Thomas offering her a job at his London home, which she accepts. Of course Thomas has no idea that his mother has suddenly decided he should have a wife and that’s when things get even more interesting.
Lady Rebecca, the daughter of the Duke of Ruxbell is her choice to be his wife. They are arriving shortly and Thomas is more than a little upset.
There’s something worse though, he finds himself appalled at the way Rebecca and her father treat not only his servants but their workers as well. He’s also puzzled that they won’t divulge the beginnings of their successful business.
It gets pretty convoluted here, and Mary Ann gets involved in an unusual way. Thomas also can’t seem to stay away from Mary Ann which could also cause many problems.
I truly loved this story, but there were some things that bothered me. In many places Rebecca is referred to a Your Grace, or Her Grace and that would not be her title until she weds Thomas. There was also a scene with Thomas, his mother, Rebecca and her father where the pronouns get all messed up and had me reading several times to figure out who was saying what to whom. I’m going to blame that on editing.
4 Contented Purrs for Scarlett!
and 5 Hisses for Editing!
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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!