Hi Alexandra and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Duke but No Gentleman!
In the last opulent days of the eighteenth century, a friendly wager turns into a heated feud that spans decades…and a love affair like none other.
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Tristan Rooke, Duke of Blackbern and Cason Brant, Marquess of Norgrave have never allowed their competitive natures or a beautiful woman ruin their longstanding friendship. Unbeknownst to Lady Imogene, she appears to be the exception to their rule. The young innocent is certainly no match for the two jaded gentlemen, and she is flattered by their harmless flirtations. When Norgrave proposes a very scandalous wager for the lady’s virtue, Blackbern agrees in an attempt to protect Lady Imogene from the marquess while also giving him the opportunity to enjoy her company. What he doesn’t expect is to fall in love. Before long, what began as a friendly wager swiftly descends into a darker game of jealousy and betrayal that turns friends into enemies and proves to Blackbern and Lady Imogene that their love is worth fight for.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Norgrave was a madman. With one hand on the hilt of his sheathed short sword, and the other gripping the warm metal handle of a lantern, Tristan Bailey Rooke, Duke of Blackbern, watched intently as his friend parried his opponent’s attack. The sharp, deathly clash of steel echoed in the night while Norgrave flirted as if the grim specter of Death was just another lady he needed to seduce into his bed.
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
- The Masters of Seduction series begins with the parents’ story. As I was developing the character profiles for the upcoming books, a very compelling story emerged about the patriarchs of the two rival families. Instead of using it as a background story, I decided to pitch it as the first book and my editor loved the idea.
- The rest of the series is set twenty-four plus years later, and will focus on Blackbern’s and Norgrave’s adult children and friends.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Tristan Rooke, Duke of Blackbern—In “A Duke But No Gentleman”, Blackbern is twenty-five and unmarried. He lost his parents years ago so he views Lord Norgrave as family. Without giving away any big spoilers, what surprised me about Tristan tenderness and unwavering commitment to Imogene. In their darkest moments, he fully emerged as her hero.
Lady Imogene Sunter—She has the optimism and energy you would expect from an eighteen-year-old young lady who has been protected by her family for her entire life. What surprised me was her inner strength when she is faced with adversity.
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
This story is a decidedly darker tale from other books because Blackbern and Norgrave are genuine scoundrels in the opening of the book.
The First kiss…
Blackbern and Imogene’s first kiss didn’t go precisely as planned.
“Is this our first fight?” he inquired, his expression easing into indulgence. “And here I have yet to have a taste of you.”
“A taste?” she said blankly, before the healthy pink in her cheeks deepened into a scarlet hue. “I forbid you to kiss me!”
The charming rogue chuckled. “How can I resist such a dare?”
She felt his fingers curl around her neck. No man had ever been so bold as to touch her in this manner. Her skin tingled at his caress. He nudged her face closer to his.
Good grief, the man intended to kiss her!
“Imogene Constance —,” her mother said in icy, clipped tones. “What are you doing with that gentleman? Climb off him at once.”
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
This is one of many, but I love the casual banter between Imogene and Blackbern.
“Have I mentioned how much I appreciate a lady who is prompt?” Blackbern said three hours later as they entered the park.
“During our brief acquaintance, I do not believe the subject has come up,” Imogene said, still appreciating the duke’s reaction when she descended the staircase. She was wearing her new carriage dress and bonnet, and the masculine appreciation in his eyes had warmed her blood and sent her heart racing.
“I tend to get distracted when a lady is wiggling on top of me,” he said dryly. The corners of his mouth curled as she huffed and sputtered over his outrageous remark. “Nevertheless, I would have eventually gotten to the finer points.”
“I wish you would stop referring to our accident as something wanton and deliberate,” Imogene said. This time the warmth creeping up her neck was embarrassment. “You make it sound as if I deliberately ambushed you.”
“It was a memorable encounter,” he said, the source of her discomfort sounding too pleased with himself. “I have never had a lady throw herself at me in such a manner.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
The scene where Blackbern coaxes Lady Imogene to kiss him would be great for an audition. It reveals the chemistry between them and their vulnerabilities.
“I do not know. We should not,” she said, trying to think of a good reason why she should not kiss him.
“You know you want to . . . and we should,” he said, his eyes silently daring her to take the risk. “Just lean forward and kiss me. It is not overly complicated.”
Imogene was torn. She knew she should tell him to go to the devil for tormenting her with his childish dare. However, the woman in her wanted to know how his lips felt against hers.
He grinned at her. “I promise it will not hurt.”
Before she could choose the coward’s path, she leaned forward and kissed him. Hastily, she withdrew.
“I am not your cousin or father, Lady Imogene,” he teased. “You can do better.”
Imogene sighed. Naturally, he would not make this easy for her. She leaned forward again, her gaze resting on his mouth. He had a beautiful mouth. She closed her eyes and lightly brushed her lips against his.
Once. Twice. Thrice.
Soft featherlike kisses. On the fourth pass, she lingered a few seconds as if to test them both. When his lips parted, she pulled away.
“Are you satisfied, Your Grace?”
Blackbern shut his eyes as if he was struggling to find the right words. When he opened his eyes again, what she glimpsed had her stomach fluttering.
“You are full of surprises, Lady Imogene,” he murmured as he shook his head. “Your kiss has granted you a reprieve.” He gave her a long side-glance. “For a few days.”
Imogene stifled a groan as he urged the horses forward. She should have expected the duke’s reprieve would only be temporary.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
I would advise Blackbern and Lady Imogene to avoid Lord Norgrave. Would they have listened? Probably not. Blackbern is blinded by friendship and loyalty, and Lady Imogene is too young and innocent to sense the darkness that lurked beneath the marquess’s charming smile.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I’m currently working on the second book in the Masters of Seduction series, YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET THE MARQUESS YOU WANT. The book features Blackbern’s son and Norgrave’s daughter. It is scheduled to be released in April 2016.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 2 Print copies of A DUKE BUT NO GENTLEMAN
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: How old were you when you read your first romance novel? I was seventeen. One of my best friends brought a brown paper bag to school that was filled with traditional Regencies and Harlequin romances that belonged to her older sister. I read every book, but the Regencies were my favorite.
Excerpt from A Duke but No Gentleman:
March 4, 1792
Malwent Commons, England
Norgrave was a madman.
With one hand on the hilt of his sheathed short sword,
and the other gripping the warm metal handle of a lan- tern, Tristan Bailey Rooke, Duke of Blackbern, watched intently as his friend parried his opponent’s attack. The sharp, deathly clash of steel echoed in the night while Norgrave flirted as if the grim specter of Death was just another lady he needed to seduce into his bed.
No sane gentleman would duel in the fog at midnight, but too much brandy and pride had a way of dulling a man’s wits. When Viscount Caxton knocked over the marquess’s glass of brandy and issued his challenge, Norgrave eagerly accepted.
Caxton had been too blinded by his righteous anger to comprehend that he had been cleverly manipulated. If the gentleman had not been so generous in delivering his libelous insults not only to Norgrave, but to Tristan as well, he might have warned the man of his opponent’s proficiency with both pistol and sword.
Instead he had remained silent.
Wronged or not, the pompous arse deserved the bitter taste of humiliation for his insinuations, and Cason Brant, Marquess of Norgrave, intended to be the gen- tleman who forced every foul drop down the man’s throat.
“Already winded, and your elbow keeps dropping.” Norgrave made a soft sound of disapproval. “Do you wish to yield?”
Caxton bared his teeth at the suggestion. “Nay.” He brought his blade down, but it only stirred the air when Norgrave stepped out of range at the last second. “Not until I hear an apology from your lips.”
Tristan glanced over at the viscount’s second who was staring at the fighting men with the excitement of a chained dog that longed to be free of his tether. He paced the edge of the circle, his sword unsheathed. Tristan didn’t trust the man not to interfere to give his friend the advantage.
Norgrave grinned. “On the contrary, you should be apologizing to me for not being a worthy opponent. It is apparent you have been neglectful in keeping your sword skills honed for these unpleasant affairs.”
The viscount responded with the resounding clang of steel against steel. He shoved to push the marquess away, but Norgrave was taller and slightly heavier. He held his ground, and it was Caxton who went stumbling.
“Hold, good sir!” Tristan ordered the viscount’s sec- ond when he took a step forward. What the devil was his name? Prigs? Twigs? No, that did not sound quite right, but he was close. His lips curved in triumph as he suddenly recalled the man’s name. “Briggs, your friend is fine. Do not interfere.”
Caxton did not even glance at his friend. He charged Norgrave. “Stay back, Briggs. This bastard is mine!”
The marquess turned sideways and countered the man’s blade. High and low, Norgrave’s blows struck with accuracy and a ringing force that proved minutes later to be the thirty-eight-year-old gentleman’s undoing. He had provoked the wrong man.
Norgrave shoved the viscount away from him.
“Are you satisfied, Caxton?” his friend taunted, his movements to evade his opponent swift and graceful. “Speak now, and you can return home to your sweet Audrey.”
His brown eyes flared with indignation. “How dare you! You have no right to utter her name.”
“I regretfully disagree. Audrey insisted that I take such liberties. As you know, it was just one of many,” Norgrave said, his silky insinuation puncturing the other man’s composure.
Anger strengthened Caxton’s arm, and his blade sliced the marquess’s upper arm. The viscount smiled at his small victory. “You might have caught her fancy, but her father accepted my offer of marriage, not yours.”
Norgrave paused at the gentleman’s words. “Who told you I offered marriage?” He cast an incredulous look in Tristan’s direction. “Audrey’s father accepted your timely offer because he knew—”
“Speak not another word!” the viscount roared as his expression darkened. “You are insulting my bride. If you continue, a mere scratch will not satisfy me.”
“You truly believe you have the skill to best me, Caxton?”
“Love and justice will guide my arm.”
“ ’Tis a noble declaration. A pity we did not invite a poet to our private gathering. He could compose a son- net and deliver it to your widow.”
“Enough, Norgrave,” Tristan said in even tones. “An insult is not worth any man’s death.”
“Most evenings, I would agree,” his friend said, his gaze fixed on his opponent’s face. “However, I suspect Caxton is not planning to be reasonable.”
“So you admit it,” the viscount snarled.
The two men circled each other. “To what precisely? I have committed numerous sins . . . ah, but you are only interested in the ones that involve your delectable wife.”
“Norgrave, cease provoking him!” Tristan pointed his sword at Briggs. “And you, back away. This duel is woefully unbalanced as it is.”
Has everyone lost their head this evening?
“You seduced her.” Caxton’s mouth twisted with misery and pain.
The marquess’s forehead creased in concern and dis- belief. “Is that what she told you?”
If Norgrave had not spent several evenings regaling Tristan with titillating tales of his carnal exploits with the charming Audrey, he might have believed his friend was innocent.
Lord Caxton was also unconvinced.
The viscount shook his head. “She did not have to say a single word. I saw it in her eyes the moment you en- tered the ballroom.”
A low chuckle rumbled in Norgrave’s throat. “You poor gullible fool. You stand before me, willing to risk life and limbs for a duplicitous wench.”
Caxton dragged his gloved hand through his dark brown hair. “You are wrong. My lady—”
The marquess slashed the air, cutting off the gentle- man’s words. “Cast her wiles in Blackbern’s direction first. Is that not true, Tristan?”
“What transpired is no longer important.” To Caxton, he said in apologetic tones, “It was a harmless flirta- tion.”
Unhelpful as ever, his friend snorted in disbelief. “Audrey and her family had high aspirations to ensnare a duke’s interest. Unfortunately for her, Blackbern was not attentive so she consoled herself in my arms.”
Tristan frowned at Norgrave. His friend’s retelling of last year’s events was not quite accurate. He had been mildly smitten by Lady Audrey. If given the chance, he might have pursued the lady in earnest. However, Norgrave had swept her off her feet with his seemingly limitless charm, but he doubted the viscount would find comfort in the truth.
Nor did he seem to accept the marquess’s half-truths.
“What are you saying?” The viscount lowered his sword as his fury increased. “That my wife seduced you? I refuse to believe such a preposterous claim.”
“Oh, I seduced her, Caxton.” The marquess closed the gap between them. “Did she claim that she was a virgin on your wedding night? Quite understandable since your valet is probably the only person who has handled your ballocks. Nevertheless, I can attest your devoted Audrey came to your bed with a bit of tarnish. I distinctly recall her crying out my name when I shoved my cock—”
Caxton bellowed, drowning out Norgrave’s confession as he rushed forward. He knocked the marquess’s blade aside as the two men collided, fell, and disappeared into the fog.
“God’s teeth and toes, this isn’t bloody mud wres- tling!” Tristan jumped out of the way as the fighting men rolled too close to his boots, his lantern swinging wildly. The duel had been reduced to fisticuffs if glimpses of Caxton’s elbow were any indication. “Get up and show some dignity. The retelling of this over brandy will not be favorable for either of you.”
He raised the lantern higher, attempting to discern the health of his friend. Norgrave deserved a few bruises for taunting the viscount about his wife’s not-so-innocent past. However, it wasn’t Caxton’s face that was illumi- nated in the lantern’s light. During the fog-shrouded brawl, the marquess had gained the upper hand and was pummeling his opponent with his fists. Tristan wasn’t the only one who noticed.
With his short sword menacingly poised to strike, the viscount’s second was striding toward them.
“Put down your sword, Briggs, and help me separate them before someone actually gets hurt,” Tristan snapped, hoping the man was too used to following orders to ignore him. Without turning his back on the man, he sheathed his own sword and slowly set down his lantern.
“Stand aside, Blackbern. I have no grievance with you. Norgrave is violating the terms. He has no honor,” Briggs said, discarding his lantern as he prepared to skewer the marquess in the back.
“Bloody hell!” Tristan ruthlessly kicked his friend in the upper shoulder, knocking him off balance as he retrieved his sword. Briggs’s blade missed the marquess and found purchase in Caxton’s chest.
The viscount howled in pain.
Tristan blocked the man’s second attack. Sporting a visible bruise on his cheekbone, Norgrave gave him an appreciative lopsided grin. “Knew you couldn’t resist showing off your skills,” he said, before he scrambled to his feet to face his opponent with his sword in hand.
Fresh blood flowed like a sluggish spring down Cax- ton’s white linen shirt as he stood. His chest was heaving for air, but he seemed oblivious to his injuries. The viscount was too intent on maiming Norgrave to call an end to the duel.
In the fog with four small lanterns to shed some light on the evening’s violence, Tristan distracted Briggs while the other two men continued to battle. Norgrave was correct. He was eager to display his sword skills to a worthy adversary, but he preferred a less bloodthirsty setting. Usually, his reputation was enough to discour- age most disgruntled rivals. However, Norgrave was driven to prove himself on the field of honor. He was never satisfied unless blood was spilled. His loyalty and longstanding friendship with the marquess placed Tristan at his side.
Briggs had some training, but it was apparent he had never faced a seasoned opponent. Although Tristan did not seek out battles, he had the skill to finish and win them. His persistent attacks and parries kept Briggs away from Norgrave, and it wasn’t long before the man began to tire. Briggs was sweating, while his lungs were working frenziedly like inefficient bellows.
With a look of disgust, Tristan swiftly disarmed his opponent and pressed the tip of his sword to Briggs’s throat. “I trust you have the good sense to sheath your sword.”
The man hastily nodded. “Aye, I do.” It took him a few attempts, but he managed to put away his short sword. “Only a madman would continue.”
“I cannot fault your reasoning. Now, if you don’t mind, why don’t you fetch the surgeon who had the good sense not to leave his coach. Caxton will need his skills since you managed to stab him.”
His burly shoulders hunched as the man winced at the reminder that he had contributed to his friend’s in- juries. He picked up one of the lanterns. “What about them?” He gestured in the direction of the sounds of grunts and heavy breathing. “No one mentioned this was a battle to the death.”
“It isn’t. I have no desire to abandon my estates and flee England.” Tristan glanced over his shoulder, and shouted into the fog. “Gentlemen, blood has been shed. Can we assume everyone is satisfied?”
Norgrave and Caxton staggered into view. The vis- count had enough blood on his shirt to make it appear that he had sustained a mortal wound. Their short swords were nowhere in sight. His friend had fared bet- ter, but he was not walking away from this duel un- scathed.
“What say you, Caxton? Are you satisfied?” Norgrave asked too cheerfully for their situation.
The man loved a good fight.
“I’m too tired to fight you,” the viscount responded sullenly. “Aye, I’m satisfied—as long as you stay away from my wife.”
Brazen bastard that he was, the marquess clapped the gentleman on the shoulder as if they were old friends. “A reasonable request I am happy to oblige. I have a bottle of brandy in my coach. What the surgeon cannot fix, a glass or two will help ease.”
Tristan ruefully shook his head at Norgrave’s mercu- rial mood as the two men headed for the coaches. Lord Caxton was never at risk of losing his wife’s affections to the marquess. Norgrave had sampled Lady Audrey’s charms and moved on to other conquests. No lady had ever claimed his friend’s heart for long. He doubted such a female existed.
Hours later, Tristan and Norgrave were still celebrating their triumph at the marquess’s residence. Along the way, they had collected two courtesans from their rented theater box. Jewel Tierney was an Irish beauty who had left her small village at sixteen and through a series of lovers had found her way to London. It wasn’t long be- fore she had secured a string of wealthy protectors. Both he and Norgrave had some history with the lovely Miss Tierney. He had been twenty when the dark-haired enchantress had cast a calculating glance in his direc- tion. Their time together had been costly, but well worth it. Even so, he had been young and too wild to be tamed by any comely wench. His interest in her had quickly waned. There had been no recriminations. Ambitious and quite fickle in her affections, Jewel had moved on to other lovers—including Norgrave.
To Tristan’s surprise, Norgrave and Jewel still shared a friendship of sorts, even though the fiery passion that had brought them together had burned out years ago.
Occasionally lovers, Norgrave had an amicable arrange- ment with the twenty-nine-year-old courtesan. Intimately familiar with his carnal predilections, Jewel often handpicked young women who had recently arrived in London and would be appreciative of the marquess’s protection.
She had issued the same offer to Tristan, but he had politely refused. His title and the Rooke family’s good looks ensured he had a willing female in his bed when- ever he desired. He also did not want to be beholden to the courtesan. He had never inquired into the particu- lars of her arrangement with Norgrave, but Jewel was too shrewd not to demand a price.
“Tristan, I pray you are not spoiling my victory by passing out on us,” grumbled Norgrave from the bed.
He had insisted that the four of them retire to his bed- chamber so Jewel could clean the shallow scratches the surgeon dismissed as minor. The man had stitched up the wound on Norgrave’s arm, and told him that he should confine his activities to his bed. His friend laughed and vowed to follow the old man’s medical ad- vice. Considering he was lying naked on the bed with only a sheet draped across his lean hips while two pretty women fussed over him, Tristan bemusedly wondered if Norgrave had bribed the surgeon for his opinion.
Reclining against the glassy blue silk cushions of the sofa, he did not bother opening his eyes when he replied, “More tired than foxed. It was a bloody long day and I had already developed a mild headache be- fore we spent half the night drinking and playing cards. Not to mention our little adventure with Caxton.” As an afterthought, he added, “And don’t think I won’t collect my winnings on that last game.”
“You will forgive me for not beggaring you at the table as I often do.”
His brows lifted in feigned outrage. “The devil you do!”
Jewel and her friend Eunice laughed.
“I was distracted by Caxton,” his friend complained. “I had heard rumors at the club that he was working up the courage to challenge me.”
“You deserved it,” Tristan muttered without a trace of sympathy. “You were Audrey’s first lover and then you made certain he knew it once he married her.”
“Cason, that was terribly wicked of you!” Jewel ad- monished the marquess. The bed creaked as the woman moved closer to soften the sting of her words with a kiss.
“Do not tell me that Caxton didn’t deserve it. Besides, it was his wife who caused all the fuss when she fainted at my feet. How was I to know that the lady still har- bored feelings for me?”
The other woman sighed. “You poor man . . . it must be difficult to have all of your lovers fall in love with you.”
Norgrave chuckled. “It is a curse.”
Tristan groaned. The man’s arrogance was bound- less. “Love is not the appropriate word. Most of your former mistresses despise you.”
When there was no sarcastic response from Norgrave, he opened his eyes and glanced over his shoulder at the bed. While he had been lightly dozing, Jewel and Eu- nice had disrobed and joined the marquess in bed. Inspite of the colorful bruising on his body, Norgrave had positioned Jewel so she sat astride his hips. She slowly rode his cock while Eunice cushioned his swollen cheek with her breast.
“At least most of them do,” Tristan said, dismissing Jewel and her curvaceous naked body as an aberration. “I am certain they do, but their feelings are no longer my concern,” Norgrave said, proving his passions and his thoughts rarely intermingled. “Over the years, how many of my former lovers have cried on your shoulder,
He shrugged. “I’ve lost count, you callous villain.” The marquess laughed. “And how many of those
heartbroken and embittered wenches found solace in your bed?”
He grinned. “A few.”
Tristan shifted his position so he could rest his chin comfortably on his bent arm. He felt no embarrassment in observing Jewel as she moved as gracefully as a dancer while stroking her lover. Norgrave did not pos- sess a dram of shame when it came to amorous displays. He was proud of his body, and his prowess as a lover. It excited him when others watched him take a woman.
In truth, Tristan was not as immune to the couple’s love play as he feigned. It was not difficult to recall the softness of Jewel’s skin, the silk of her dark tresses against his face, or the quiet sigh that always escaped her lips when he filled her. His testicles tightened at the thought.
His hand moved to his thigh. What he felt was lust, but it wasn’t Jewel or Eunice that he hungered for—any woman would do. His duties to his family and his lands
filled his days and nights, and he had little time for a demanding mistress. It was unlike him to deny his ap- petites, but he had not minded his self-imposed celibacy. As he observed Norgrave with Jewel and Eunice, his thoughts turned inward and drifted as he considered searching for an amenable lady who would satisfy him in bed while he was in London. He was not as hard- hearted toward his lovers as Norgrave, but he preferred an uncomplicated arrangement.
There was also Norgrave to consider.
Although he would be the first to heartily cheer if Tristan took a mistress this season, he would also place demands on his time. With his thoughts spinning in his mind like wooden puzzle pieces, he had not noticed that Eunice had left the bed at Norgrave’s whispered request. It wasn’t until she knelt beside the sofa that his gaze focused on her face.
“Your Grace, do I please you?” Eunice asked in a soft hesitant voice.
Tristan studied the naked woman offering herself. He had barely glanced at her when Jewel had introduced her, since he had only planned to toast Norgrave on his victory and retire for the evening. He wasn’t surprised that his friend had other plans. As he took a closer look at Eunice’s face, he could find little fault in it. He deduced her age fell somewhere between twenty and twenty-five, but it was difficult to tell with the cosmet- ics she had applied to her face. Her body was a bit too slender for his tastes, but her limbs were well formed and unblemished. He glanced at Jewel and wondered if this had been her strategy all along, since it was obvi- ous the young woman was her current protégée. If he needed a mistress while he resided in London, why not invite Eunice into his bed? Her thoughtfulness would spare him the time it would take to find a willing woman on his own.
Unfortunately, Jewel was too busy pleasuring his friend to confirm his suspicions.
Since the woman was expecting some sort of answer from him, Tristan shifted his gaze back to Eunice. “You are quite lovely, my dear. Nevertheless, I am quite con- tent with my brandy and thoughts. Nor would I wish to deprive Norgrave of your company.”
Her face fell with disappointment. “But he said—”
From across the room, Norgrave seemed to choke with laughter. “Tristan, don’t be an arse. If your cock gets any stiffer, the buttons on the flap of your breeches will pop.”
“Tend to your own business,” Tristan snapped, as he glanced down and noted the prominent bulge at the front of his breeches. It was pointless, but he tried to conceal his arousal with his hand. If he had the capability to blush, he would have in that moment.
The marquess snorted, and delivered a hard slap on the courtesan’s buttock. “And you, to yours, my friend.” Jewel gasped in surprise as Norgrave pushed her onto her back and covered her. He growled against her throat and she laughed in delight.
Tristan started at Eunice’s touch. She had moved closer while he had been distracted. Her left breast brushed against his thigh as she reached for the buttons at the front of his breeches.
He placed his hand over her fingers as she worked the first few buttons free. “Pray ignore my friend. I did not lie. I have no expectations. If you wish to return—”
“I do not, Your Grace.” She tipped her face earnestly upward. The manner in which her hair tangled around her face was quite charming. His high opinion of her increased, when she boldly slipped her hand into his breeches and curled her fingers around his engorged cock. “You have your thoughts and brandy. Leave this to me.”
His left leg slipped from the cushion as his legs parted until his foot rested on the floor. Eunice accepted his silent invitation, and crawled closer until she could press her breasts against the apex of his thighs. Tristan did not stop her when she pulled down the flap of his breeches and released the hot length she stroked with eagerness. There was no point denying the fact that he was aroused, and Eunice’s shy offer had eroded his restraint.
Any female will do.
Norgrave, the arrogant bastard, had deduced his needs even before he had.
From his friend’s point of view, the woman admir- ing his cock was merely a means to an end. Norgrave did not truly care which woman Tristan bedded as long as he ceased behaving like a bore.
The realization dampened his ardor.
He detested being manipulated. Eunice sharply in- haled when he abruptly grabbed her by the hair to stop her from lowering her head. Their gazes met. One held bridled anger and the other pain and fading lust.
“Let me pleasure you, Your Grace.”
Without waiting for his reply, her tongue shot between her lips and she licked the head of his cock. The muscles in his stomach rippled and he swallowed the groan forming in his throat.
“Bloody hell, woman. Are you trying to kill me?”
Eunice’s eyes crinkled in mischief. “I’ll give you my answer in the morning.”
Her lips parted and this time Tristan gently guided her mouth to his straining arousal. Eunice opened her mouth wider and she took as much of his rigid length as she could. He clenched his teeth as she held onto the base of his cock to control the depth of his thrusts.
Tristan was dimly aware of Norgrave’s perusal as sweet Eunice pleasured him with her talented mouth. The smug bastard knew he had won this battle. For now, Tristan was inclined to let his friend savor his small triumph because their battle of wills revealed one thing— he did not have the temperament for celibacy.
Nonetheless, when he returned to London, he would handpick his own damn mistress.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
In the last opulent days of the eighteenth century, a friendly wager turns into a heated feud that spans decades…and a love affair like none other.
What does it take to tempt a lady…
London, 1792. The Duke of Blackbern and the Marquess of Norgrave are boyhood friends who will still compete at anything. Racing, drinking, gambling, even seduction-until Lady Imogene Sunter crosses their path. Achingly beautiful, and innocent, she has no understanding of the jaded gentlemen who are courting her for favors-of how far they are willing to go to get what they want…
In this game of seduce and destroy?
Fighting for Imogen’s affection should have been no more than their usual spirited rivalry. But when Blackbern discovers his feelings for Imogen have deepened, all bets are off. Norgrave, driven by his own demons, won’t forsake his pride-and with one shocking act of betrayal that threatens Imogen and Blackbern’s newfound desire, Norgrave will set the course for a generation of Regency bad boys who will go down in history as the Masters of Seduction…in A Duke But No Gentleman by Alexandra Hawkins.
Meet the Author:
Alexandra Hawkins is an unrepentant Anglophile who discovered romance novels as a teenager and knew that one day she would be writing her own. With her Lords of Vice series, she has combined her love of English history, mythology, and romance to create sensual character-driven stories that, she hopes, will touch readers’ hearts. Alexandra lives in Georgia with her husband and three children.
Readers can contact me through my website and social media pages.