My Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤
Spice Level: 💋💋💋 1/2
After five years on the Marriage Mart, Miss Aquilla Knox is ready for spinsterhood until a benefactress steps in to help her secure a husband. Only Aquilla doesn’t actually want to marry—her failure is entirely on purpose. When the earl she’s nicknamed the Duke of Deception sets his sights on her, she refuses to be drawn in by her attraction to him. If there’s one thing she knows it’s that a gentleman is never what he seems.
Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has a reputation for courting young misses and dropping them without a second thought. This has earned him a reputation for deceit, a description he can’t refute because he does in fact, harbor secrets and will do anything—deceive anyone—to ensure they don’t come to light. As he comes to know the charming Miss Knox, his resolve is tested. However, trust comes at a price and Ned won’t pay with his heart.
“Miss Knox, I hope you won’t think me overbold, but I must ask what you’re about. You’re quite different than you were during our other meetings. I am…surprised.”
And disappointed. She could hear it in his voice. Normally, this gave her a jolt of delight. She knew the gentleman would likely never trouble her again. Sutton, however, had seen her in another light. That was a mistake she hoped to fix.
She pursed her lips, sticking them out so that she looked like a fish. “I’m the same, I think.”
“No, not at all, and please don’t insult me—or yourself—by saying otherwise. Tell me what is the matter.” His tone was direct and possessed a touch of hardness as well as concern. There was more of the latter, actually, but perhaps that was due to the way he was looking at her. As if he peered straight though her ruse and saw her.
This time when she stumbled, it wasn’t an act.
“Pardon me,” she murmured.
Again he held her steady, his hands warm and secure.
“Tell me,” he repeated. “Please.”
She couldn’t bear to look at him, so she fixed her gaze over his shoulder at the swirling ballroom. “I thought men liked vapid women.”
“Not smart men.” His fingertips skimmed the space above her waist. Tingles of awareness danced up her spine. “Not the ones worth having,” he said softly.
She couldn’t keep from looking at him then. His gray eyes watched her intently, captivating her while he steered them about the floor with precision and grace.
She should keep up the act or do something else to deter him. But why bother? It wasn’t as if he would marry her. He didn’t marry anyone. So he might pay her attention for a while, but he would move on. That could not be disputed.
Aquilla allowed herself to relax. He was safe. Especially since her time on the Marriage Mart was nearly at an end. First thing tomorrow, she’d tell Lady Satterfield about her plan to become a companion.
“Why did you really ask me to dance?” she asked. If he could be unflinchingly honest, so could she. It felt good actually.
He lifted a shoulder. “Because I wanted to. I’ve enjoyed your company. It also seemed you owed me a favor.” The side of his mouth curved up, but only briefly, as if he were trying to suppress a smile. Was he flirting with her?
He leaned his head a trifle too close and whispered, “Because I rescued you.”
Of course. She smiled. “Indeed you did. May we consider the debt repaid?”
He pondered this a moment, his gaze lifting toward the chandelier for a step or two. “I’m not certain that’s fair. You did falter, and your foot nearly stomped mine. I think I’ll have to demand another dance.”
“Demand? I’m not at all sure I enjoy autocratic gentlemen.”
He looked suddenly terrified. “Do you mean to change my nickname to the Duke of Demanding?”
“You’re joking.” She hadn’t been sure, but the crinkles next to his eyes gave him away. “Yes, you’re joking. Just for that I’m going to call you the Duke of Disagreeable.”
He laughed. “This is much better, thank you. I was horrified for a moment there that I’d misjudged you. I’m glad I did not.”
His gaze delved into hers, and she heard his words in her mind: Not the ones worth having. Were there truly any of those?
She doubted it very much, but for the first time wondered if there just might be. Could Sutton be one of them?
That she even entertained the thought filled her with trepidation. He was charming and clever, but he was still the Duke of Deception. He could be worth having, or he could be an utter fiend.
Neither mattered to her because she never planned to find out.
This is my favorite so far in this series! There are issues in this one that you normally don’t see in historical romance and I love it. They had chemistry from the moment they met and their wedding happened quickly to protect her, but you could tell they loved each other before they even knew it. I loved when they visited the hospital and the proposal. Only one scene had me screaming towards the end, but it worked out perfectly.
Aquilla is someone that I loved from the start. She may not want to marry and comes from not so good home, but she is strong and everyone loves her. I absolutely love her methods for keeping men away and she is very good at her acting. She did what she had to when it came to her family and saving herself.
Ned will make you fall in love with him the moment you learn his secret and the work he does. I loved that he kept putting ladies to his test until he met Aquilla. He doesn’t hold back when he doesn’t like someone or something they say, but he does it in a way that doesn’t cause a scene.
Their passion leaps off the pages. I wanted to smack her father and brother for how they treated her and their own wives. At first, I didn’t like her mother, but once I realized why she was that way I felt for her. I love his aunt like crazy because of how she helps him and that she doesn’t seem to shy away from anything.
Meet The Author
Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. Visit Darcy online at www.darcyburke.com and sign up for her newsletter, follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/darcyburke, or like her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DarcyBurkeFans.
Connect with Darcy
Other Books in the Series
Duke of Deception Prize Pack filled with the following:
Signed copy of The Forbidden Duke and The Duke of Daring
Jane Austen jigsaw puzzle
Jane Austen inspired candle
Pride & Prejudice board book
Bath salts from author Wendy LaCapra
Darcy Burke trading cards, bookmark, and cleaning cloth
*International shipping Available*