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Jasper Tierney, the Duke of Jevington, is surprised to encounter a half-clothed woman sprawled upon his bed. He is even more shocked to discover her identity. Margaret Carberry is renowned as an incorrigible wallflower, not a seductress, no matter how appealing her bare flesh is against his bedding. When Margaret declares she won’t go along with her mother’s scheme and will find a husband on her own, Jasper vows to assist her, lest Margaret’s mother concoct another method to arrange a compromising situation. Jasper is certain of one thing: he has no desire to marry.
As Jasper works to match Margaret to one of his fellow dukes, the prospect of a forced marriage with her lacks its earlier loathsomeness. Perhaps he missed his chance for true bliss.
Perhaps the duke was accustomed to women being astounded in his presence, though it wasn’t his exquisite symmetrical features, his tallness, or his manner of fitting his attire with a skill normally reserved for mannequins that left her on edge: it was his words.
“I said I would help you,” he said gently, as if he were a tutor and she were a comprehension-challenged pupil.
“And then I said I would find you a duke.”
Her eyes widened. The man had said the word again.
He nodded, evidently pleased with himself. “A duke.”
She stared at him.
But he’d clearly said duke. Multiple times. She’d thought her heart had pitter-pattered when she’d seen him before, but now it careened.
Perhaps he was teasing her.
And yet his eyes seemed kind, and she doubted he had any acquaintances hiding behind the chaise whom he wanted to make laugh.
Suddenly the room seemed devoid of air, despite the generous sizes of the windows and ample square footage, and she swallowed hard.
The man was so close.
Close enough to sweep her in his arms.
Close enough for their lips to meet.
She stepped away hastily, bumping into a sideboard. The wooden edge poked her leg, and an oriental vase wobbled precariously, sending flower petals tumbling down.
He grasped her elbow with one hand, and energy thrummed through her body.
“I-I don’t understand,” she stammered finally, not wanting to glance at her grandmother, lest even her expression be filled with mirth.
Normally, Margaret understood things.
It was one of her good qualities.
One of her few good qualities.
“Well, I thought your mother would prefer a duke. Unless, you don’t like dukes?”
“I don’t abhor dukes.”
She credits British weather for forcing her into a library, where she discovered her first Julia Quinn novel. She remains deeply grateful for blustery downpours.
Bianca lives in California with her husband.
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