From New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter comes the latest sexy Regency era tale of glittering balls, handsome aristocrats, false identities, and high-stakes thievery…as one duke follows his lady down a very dangerous rabbit hole into the criminal world hidden beneath London’s fancy veneer. Compulsively readable, inventive, and witty, Madeline Hunter’s romantic tale of love and adventure pulls back the curtain the polished and the seedy side of London’s decadence and excess.
Praise for A DEVIL OF A DUKE:
“With a delectable blend of clever ripostes, scorching sensuality, and masterly plotting, Hunter’s latest sees the most infamous of the Decadent Dukes fall head over heels in a satisfying romantic adventure.”– Library Journal
“Another passionate, adventurous, captivating romance from a grand mistress of the genre. Hunter combines a heated love story with a feminist vibe with a dangerous mission led by unconventional characters. Thanks to the snappy dialogue, readers will find the pace never slows as they try and keep up with a bold thief and a devilish duke engaged in a subtle game of seduction. Readers will adore the smart characters who actually talk to one another as they set aside foolish misunderstandings in favor of communication.”– RT Book Reviews, 4.5 Stars, Top Pick
“Scintillating love scenes are plentiful in this page-turning tale, which is enhanced by a cast of memorable characters and smart, witty protagonists.” – Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW
An excerpt from A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter
“You were good to your word.” They were her first words, spoken while they lay in an embrace on the carpet. The pantaloons remained bunched near her feet, leaving her naked and beautiful.
He kissed her. “I am first and foremost a gentleman, inconvenient though that might be sometimes.” Inconvenient did not do it justice tonight. It had been all but impossible to keep his word. He had amazed himself. It had been years, a lifetime, since he’d done such a thing. He could not even remember the last time. He must have been younger than twenty.
He looked at the pale, warm woman in his arms. Her eyes remained closed and her face relaxed. Her dark lips in this light contrasted starkly with her skin.
He owed her nothing. He did not even know her name. No one would have known if he had—
Except himself, of course.
“You were very kind,” she said. “At the end. I did not realize why—”
“That was new for you?”
“Do not blame your former lover. Unless someone explains a woman’s potential to us, men are very stupid about such things.”
She turned in his arms and laid her head on his chest. “Who explained it to you?”
He had to search his memory. “A woman. A whore. I think I was seventeen. At that age, young men are hard and quick, and she showed me there were other ways to take care of—”
He was not sure what word to use. Normally he would not even talk about this with a woman, lady or whore. His utter contentment at the moment permitted it.
“To take care of fairness?”
“Thank you for that.”
“Only that? Not for keeping my word?”
“Oh. Yes. Of course. Thank you for that too.”
He laughed, and she did too.
“Inconvenient however, as you said,” she added.
He flipped her onto her back and rose on one arm so he could look at her. He traced around her neck, then along the side of one breast with his fingertips. “You are far more than passable. You should know that. I am not lying to flatter you.”
Her lids lowered.
He continued his strokes. The way the light showed her form captivated him. “What are you afraid of? It is in you all the time when you are with me. I sense it trying to interfere with your contentment even now.”
She looked up at him but did not answer.
“Are you in fear of your safety? Are you . . . misused in some way?” He sensed that she yearned to confide. “If you are, I can help you. You would be amazed how much influence a duke has.”
“I would not be surprised. I assume your power is untold.”
“Let us just say that people listen to us. I do not like to think of you living in fear of an abusive relative or someone who uses threats to—” To have his way with you. He did not know why that notion entered his head. Perhaps the way she’d embraced the freedom of the passion tonight had planted the idea that she might not be inexperienced so much as normally unwilling.
“No man is having his way with me,” she said evenly.
“Not now. Except you. Tonight.”
The tonight sounded clearly. Only tonight.
“I have not had my way with you. Remember?”
“I assure you, close is not nearly the same. Release me from my promise, and I will gladly show you what I mean.”
“That would be . . . unwise.” He sensed she almost said something more affirmative. Her brow puckered again. “You mean it was unpleasant for you? I did not realize it
He laughed and gave her a quick kiss. “It was very pleasant. However, also imperfect because it was incomplete.”
“You expect perfection? Dukes have high standards.”
“There is no reason to do something if you don’t do it well. I was taught that by my father. He had other somethings in mind, of course.”
“Ducal somethings, I suppose.”
“All kinds of somethings. Just not this something. At least I don’t think so. I will have to ponder that, though. It never before occurred to me that it was a sly exhortation to sensual perfection along with the other somethings. If so, my admiration for the man increases tenfold.”
He settled alongside her and tucked her close. After a moment of awkward stiffness, she relaxed into him.
“You are entrancing when deprived of your armor, shepherdess.”
“I thought my name was Alice. And I expect any woman is more entrancing naked than clothed.”
“Oddly enough, that is not true. Many are too aware of themselves when naked. Too closed and cautious. You on the other hand are free and revealing.”
She turned and propped herself up on her crossed forearms so she looked down at him. “And what did I reveal other than my body?”
He stroked her face. “That you hide a sweet heart behind barriers created by your fear.” He eased her face down and kissed her. “You do not have to be afraid of me. If you trusted me in this tonight, you should know you can trust me in anything.”
Her expression softened into mild astonishment.
He sat and reached for his coat. He felt in the pocket for a velvet bag, then laid down with her again.
He pulled her back down on her back. He slipped the locket out of the pouch. It was not really appropriate to give her this, but he wanted to. He did not think she received many gifts of any kind in her life.
He set the locket on her chest. Her lids lowered and she looked at it. She picked it up and held it high in the moonlight. Silver flecks danced on the stone’s facets.
She appeared confused.
“That is for you,” he said.
“There is nothing to pay you for other than a fine test of my honor.”
“I thought you said it was very pleasant.”
He laughed. He took the locket and set it back on her chest. “And it was. However, this is merely a little gift for a woman who has diverted a bored man. You can sell it if you want. It is given with affection but no conditions.”
She poked at the locket with a fingertip. “I should not take it.”
“I hope that you will.”
He wrapped her in an embrace and made himself comfortable. “Tomorrow I will bring you home. And this place you have—whatever you fear there will get better once it is seen that a lord cares for you.”
The suggestion broke her peace. “I cannot have you see where I live. My situation is too poor. I do not want you to see it.”
“Then not yet, if you insist.” He kissed her crown to soothe her. “However, I will bring you a few streets away so you are not traveling through town alone. Do not argue. I will not hear any objection.”
She felt him falling asleep. Even after he did, his arm remained over her. She found its weight possessive.
The locket stayed where he had put it, sparkling on her chest above her breasts. Expensive. Tasteful. She could probably live for six months on the money she could get for it. She might have to.
His embrace comforted her. Protected her. It kept at bay her true situation for a long time. Eventually, however, the danger he presented slid back into her drowsy mind.
It is given with affection. Did he mean that? How could he have affection for her? He did not even know her.
A lord cares for you. He would see her in gaol if he knew what he cared for.
Not yet. That implied more meetings. More pleasure. More entanglement.
Suddenly she was wide awake, hearing his breath in her ear, feeling every spot where their bodies touched. A profound yearning spread until she ached. If only . . .
She caressed his face as gently as possible so she would not wake him. Then she eased out of his arms.
The sun woke him, not Miles. Its early silver light streamed in the window.
He stared at the ceiling, then felt the carpet beneath him. Memories from the night flooded his mind. He turned with a smile to where he expected a sleeping woman within reach.
A single bright sunbeam broke onto the carpet. A stone sparkled. The locket lay where Alice should be.
He stared at it.
He stood. Hands on hips he gazed around a library now devoid of any evidence of her. He might have dreamed it all.
He picked up the locket and shoved it in a pocket. Then he cursed loudly and profanely.
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About Madeline Hunter:
Madeline Hunter is a New York Times bestselling author with more than six million copies of her books in print. She has twenty-nine nationally bestselling historical romances in print, including most recently, The Most Dangerous Duke in London, The Wicked Duke; Tall, Dark, and Wicked; and His Wicked Reputation. A member of RWA’s Honor Roll, she has won the RITA Award twice and been a finalist seven times. Her books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly, and have been translated into thirteen languages. She has a PhD in art history, which she has taught at the university level. Madeline also writes the Romance Unlaced column for USAToday.com’s Happy Ever After site. Madeline loves to hear from her readers, and can be reached through her website at www.madelinehunter.com, on Facebook, www.facebook.com/madelinehunter/, and at twitter.com/madelinehunter.