This story is a marvelous happily ever after crossed
with an adorable wish come true. I loved it!
Grace Burrowes, New York Times bestselling author
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An excerpt from A Wolf in Duke's Clothing
Miss Felicity Templeton unexpectedly finds herself swept onto the dance floor at the Livingston Ball. The tall, dark and handsome stranger is less than forthcoming and as if that wasn't bad enough, he seems to be... sniffing her?
“Your Grace! I must object to this repeated inhalation of my person.”
And then he smiled—oh, not the kind of smile that a jolly person might assay, full of teeth and creased eyes, but the merest, slightest quirk of the lips. Had she examined his lips? It seemed outrageous and unfair that a man would have a mouth like that, full and plush and yet chiseled and manly. The smile teased out crinkles at the corners of those breathtaking eyes, which made Felicity misstep and fall against his chest—had she examined his chest in detail? She couldn’t bear to, it was all too much: the glorious handsomeness, the effortless dance… She swayed, and he bolstered her, without exertion, and the first part of the set came to an end.
All at once, she became aware of her surroundings, of the susurrations of gowns and the murmur of voices around the room as innuendo was sown hither and yon. Self-consciousness descended upon her like a heavy cloak, and she wanted nothing more than to flee. How dare he do this to her, make a show of her in front of what she was coming to believe were not the cream of society but the dross? The only thing worse than being made a spectacle of by another was to make one of herself, and so she remained, even as the duke’s hands tightened on her person, as if he sensed her impulse to abandon him. The next set began; he swept her around again, and Felicity refused to be powerless.
“Quite the stir you’ve created,” she said.
“Have I? Created a stir? A stir, of all things.” His mellifluous voice betrayed mirth.
“Oh, yes, well, may you be amused, Your Grace,” she replied. “As you do not go about, you may not know I number among the most legendary of Antidotes that the haute ton has ever seen.”
“I have often thought little of the opinions of society,” he said. “I find no reason to revise that impression, under these circumstances.”
“Dancing with you. Holding you in my arms. Feeling your heart beat”—he drew her closer, and a wave of whispers threatened to capsize her composure—“as we move through the waltz.”
She, who had taught herself to waltz based on illustrations in La Belle Assembleé, who had never expected to make use of that knowledge, was floating around the ballroom as though she had enjoyed instruction from the crème de la crème of French dancing masters. Lost to the music, to the feel of his hands holding her rather closer than was permissible, she took a turn in breathing in his scent, and her old visions of ballroom triumph reawakened—until she looked about her, just for a moment, and saw the spiteful smiles and the fans concealing mouths that dripped venomous on-dits.
“I suppose it’s an interesting strategy.” She pretended to muse, looking away from the crowd and focusing on his perfect cravat, a vision of enviable elegance.
“Strategy?” He brought her even closer to That Chest.
“You have done your duty standing up with a wallflower, have made a beneficent showing, and can therefore take yourself off without falling into the grasp of the fortune-hunting mamas or the wily widows. After all, no one would believe”—she made herself laugh—“that you have an interest in me. I am Miss Felicity Templeton, if I may make myself known to you. An honorable, of which you would not have been aware unless I told you. Which I have. Had you any curiosity as to who I was?”
“I know who you are.” He growled in her ear. Growled? In her ear? She pulled back but moved only as far as he allowed. Rather than take fright, she became angry. That half smile, the single most charming, delirious thing she’d ever seen, only served to infuriate her further. It appeared he could divine her feelings as she did his, and the more fractious she became, the more pleased he seemed.
She bristled. “If it would not create even more of a scene, I should leave you here in the middle of the dance.”
“Should you? Dislike the odd scene now and then?”
Were dukes always this impertinent? “I have had quite enough of this, Your Grace, and I do not appreciate being made to be a figure of fun, or worse.”
“It is not my intention to do so, I assure you.”
“And who will assure them? On the very rare occasions I have been led out, it has been with partners culled from the worst of the ton by my cousins, who seem determined to make a mockery of me. They fill my dance card with the halt, the lame, and the aged to highlight my inability to attract partners for myself, though I have no desire to attract any at all. None of these likely fellows ranked higher than a baron, and on the occasion they’d fetched me an earl, the gossip lasted for a fortnight. How dared I reach so high? But perhaps you have done me a favor. I have plans to remove myself from society forever, and I believe you have made my exodus that much simpler.”
“I shall be nothing less than a laughingstock, and I shall receive the cut direct for daring to dance with a duke. I must thank you, Your Grace.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm and the tremor of failing bravado. “You have made me notorious.”
He sighed. “Oh, my dear. I can do much better than this.”
Again, without volition, Felicity found herself being taken elsewhere: no longer on the dance floor, headed for her erstwhile hiding place.