Spotlight & Giveaway: Rumors, Ruin and the Duke by Karla Kratovil

Posted July 10th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 13 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Karla Kratovil to HJ!

Hi Karla and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Rumors, Ruin and the Duke!


To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:

Rumors, Ruin and the Duke is an emotional, steamy historical romance intertwined with a bit of mystery. A damaged duke and his irrepressible lady search for a murderer, uncover countless secrets, and fall head over heels for each other.

Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:

Lucy blinked her eyes against the sunlight that streamed into the room. Dark stubble across a strong jawline was the first thing she saw as she came awake.
The man beneath her grunted. His hand at her back slid lower to her bottom and squeezed. “What a delicious way to wake up. Do it again.”
Lucy wiggled her hips, and this time, she felt his hard shaft pressing against her hip. Hmmm, was he always like this?
“Only when I’m around you, sweetness,” Hart murmured.


What inspired this book?

My books are always inspired by the characters in my head. Hart was the rakish best friend of the main character in a previous book. I thought to myself what would happen if this playboy duke lost everything? What happens when his whole life is turned upside down?

How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?

Lucy is a firecracker, orphaned by tragedy. She is fiercely independent. She has loved Hart forever. Hart used to be a rake, running about town with a crowd of ne’re-do-well friends. But after a terrible attack he is left scarred and thirsting for revenge. He certainly doesn’t believe that anyone could love this damaged version of him.
For me, getting to know my main characters is a process that happens during the first draft. I generally know their backstory but as the story unfolds, I learn along with them how they respond to the conflict and how the chemistry between them develops.

What was your favorite scene to write?

One of my favorite scenes in the book is Hart and Lucy’s wedding night. A scandalous incident at a ball leads to their hasty marriage. Hart is still not sure that Lucy really wants him and he promises to give her time to decide when they should consummate the marriage. Little does he know she has pictured her wedding night many times and never did she see herself alone in bed. She goes looking for him…

She wore a white satin robe. Her russet hair fell over her shoulders in long waves. God, a man could get lost in all that silky hair. His fingers twitched.
“I was looking for you. You weren’t in your room.”
“You went to my room?” His voice felt hoarse. She had come to his bedroom. In her nightgown. To find him. His brain slowed as all the blood raced farther south.
He had escaped downstairs shortly after leaving her in her room. Being separated by only an unlocked door had been torture, and he had immediately regretted his big speech this morning. His cock didn’t give a rat’s ass whether she still had feelings for Murdoch. She had agreed to be his wife, and it turned out he was one possessive bastard. He’d sat on the edge of the bed for less than ten minutes before deciding to come downstairs and brood over his choices.
He had been sure it would take time for her to come to him. More time for him to flirt and to kiss and to seduce. More time for her to get used to his ugly scars. But here she was, searching him out like an angel, all dressed in virginal white.
She floated toward him. “You said you’d be waiting.”
The catch in her voice had him moving to her. He searched her face for clues to how she was feeling. “I didn’t think you would come so soon.”
“I didn’t like being alone in that big bed with the ugly canopy.” Her eyes were luminous in the lamplight as they gazed up at him.
“Ugly?” he couldn’t help but smile.
Lucy nodded. “But mostly lonely.”
“That’s no way to spend your wedding night,” he murmured. Entranced by her fingers as they played across his chest. He took her hand and brought it to his lips. “Are you sure you are ready?”
Lucy pulled her hand away and stepped back. “Why is it you’re still reluctant? Do you still see me as the girl you are responsible for?” She turned her back to him. “I know that your offer of protection is the reason for our marriage. But am I so hideous that you cannot bear to bed me?”
God, she was so adorable and so very wrong.
Hart wrapped his arms around her from behind. “I have not thought of you as a girl in many years. Why do you think I sent you with Trudy to travel on the continent?”
“You did not want to be bothered with me.”
“No, because it was my responsibility to protect you, and all I wanted to do was defile you.” He leaned down to nuzzle her ear. “You bother me plenty.”


What was the most difficult scene to write?

The most difficult scene to write, which I rewrote several times, was when Hart loses Lucy to the bad guys.

His breath came out hard and fast as his thoughts started to spiral. Everyone he loved had been taken from him. Griffen wouldn’t have been able to use her to get to him if he had just followed his first instinct and kept her at arm’s length. Now she was in danger because of him. Grabbing the iron gate, he flung it open and Seaton walked though eyeing Hart with serious grey eyes.
Hart paced away his hands clenched into fists at his side. The hell if he would lose Lucy too. He would burn down the whole city to find her. He swung around. “Fuck. This is all my fault. She is in danger because of me.”
“She is in danger because Griffen and his cronies are bastards who wish to keep their secrets. You have nothing to do with the sins of our father.” Seaton’s gaze was flat and devoid of emotion.
In contrast, Hart’s emotions felt out of control. Despair and the desire to rip apart anyone who harmed Lucy warred with his ability to think logically. He sighed. “I just wanted to know the truth. I wanted to able to punish those who destroyed my family. Who ruined my life.”
“I understand that more than you know, brother. But aren’t you being overly dramatic? What happened to you was terrible but you are still the duke, still in possession of all your money and lands.”
Hart ran a hand down over his face. “Those things don’t matter, she does.”


Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?

I think this book is a good example of my style.


What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

As with all my books, I hope that the reader finds the story a fun, sexy escape from the reality of everyday life.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?

Rumors, Ruin and the Duke is the first book in the series. I have been busy revising book two, Scandal, Secrets and the Marquess, which will be out February 2025.


Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Winner will receive one ebook copy of Rumors, Ruin and the Duke from Tule Publishing plus one additional ebook from Tule Publishing of the winner’s choice.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I’d love to know if you like a little mystery in your romances? Do you love a good plot twist?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from Rumors, Ruin and the Duke:

June 2, 1826

The Duke of Hartwick glanced down again at the missive that had just been delivered. As he tried to decipher the cryptic message it contained, he paced the plush carpet.

I have the information you are seeking. Please allow me to ask your forgiveness in person. Meet me on the south side of St. James Park at midnight. Look for my coachman. Be careful not to be followed. ~Galey

A thousand questions raced through his mind. Galey was one of his father’s oldest friends; what did he know about the circumstances around his family’s deaths? What could he possibly need to apologize for? Why the clandestine meeting? Why not just meet in a private room at the club? Or visit him at his home? Very strange indeed. And how did Galey even know about his inquiries? Could Hart finally receive answers to the suspicions that had eaten at him for years?

The thief who killed both his father and older brother five years ago, and thrust him into the role of Duke of Hartwick, had snatched away the two men he admired most in the world. He had been quietly investigating the circumstances surrounding their deaths ever since to no avail. Hart knew deep down in his soul that the two had been dead long before their bodies had been found shot through the chest in a hack on the Strand. If Lord Galey had any information that would help Hart discover the true cause of their demise, then he would meet him anywhere he wished, under any circumstance.

The low rumble of music and voices filtered through the door and beckoned him back to the party. Lucy would be waiting for him. Exiting the quiet of his study, he strode down the corridor and approached the doors to his ballroom.

Two footmen flanked the double doors. “Good evening, Your Grace.”

“Tell Mr. Kent to have the carriage brought around in thirty minutes.”

“Yes, Your Grace.” One of the footmen scrambled off to find Hart’s coachman.

The other opened the massive, gilded door that led into the ballroom.

Hart walked into the crowded room. Music from a string quartet and the rise and fall of conversation assaulted his ears. The ballroom of Hartwick House was illuminated by hundreds of candles. Guests danced across the intricately pattern wood floors; some mingled along the edges, sipping wine and spirits, and many spilled through the open French doors onto the large stone veranda in search of cooler evening air. He scanned the crowded ballroom for Lucy. He had promised her a dance, and even with the urgency clawing at his gut, he wouldn’t go back on a promise. He flipped open his pocket watch; it was only eleven. Where was the birthday girl?

Then he spotted her standing next to his great-aunt Trudy. The two of them stood next to an open glass-paned door that led to the outside. Lucy’s cheeks were flushed pink from the heat. She took a sip from the glass she held, and her nose wrinkled in distaste. He chuckled. Moving toward them, he snatched two glasses of champagne from the tray of a roving footman. Today marked Lucy’s twenty-second birthday.

Lucy’s father, Captain Middleton, had been a good friend of the family, and when he and his wife died, Hart’s father had been designated as the young girl’s guardian. Hart had unofficially been looking out for Lucy since his father’s death, but really, watching out for Lucy had been his job for years. A job that should have been an easy one. He sighed; nothing was easy when it came to Lucy Middleton.

His father had sent him to smooth things over at Ms. Bolen’s School for Young Ladies of Quality countless times over the five years Lucy had attended. And each time she had promised to behave better. Since her time at school, she had been living with Aunt Trudy, and the shenanigans had continued as Trudy sponsored Lucy’s foray out on the marriage mart. He grudgingly gave Lucy credit for her spirit. Nobody pushed around her or her friends, for that matter. But she should have been safely married off by now … and not his problem anymore.

Thank God for Great-Aunt Trudy. The old girl had taken Lucy into her home and under her care when Hart’s world had been flipped upside down. Lucy acted as Trudy’s companion and the two got along famously. Not that Trudy was the ideal chaperone, more likely to join into the trouble than put a stop to it. Hart plastered a smile on his face as he approached the two ladies.

As always, Lucy looked beautiful. A blue ribbon weaved through the chestnut curls piled high on her head. Her dress fell in a waterfall of shimmering blue silk that complemented the startling blue of her eyes. Those eyes were fixed on him, and her pink lips turned up into a smile. “Hart!”

Hart nodded. “Good evening, Aunt Trudy, Lucy. Enjoying your birthday celebration, brat?” He handed a glass of champagne to his aunt, then plucked the lemonade from Lucy’s hand, and replaced it with the sparkling wine.

“Very much, Your Grace.” She raised an eyebrow. “So, I’m allowed wine now?”

He shrugged. “Today is your birthday. It’s no time for tepid lemonade.”

The grin she flashed him was blinding. She took a swallow of champagne. “Delicious.”

“Hartwick, where have you been all evening?” Aunt Trudy trilled. “You are the host, and I have seen nary a hair on your head since the receiving line.”

“I received an important missive and needed to take care of crafting an immediate response.”

“Bah, you are the most eligible bachelor here. You have been hiding. Don’t bother to deny it.” She waggled a finger at him.

He held up his hands in protest. “Truly, I had business to take care of, Aunt. Your accusations are unfounded. You know how much I like to flirt.” He winked at Lucy, making her smile behind her glass.

“Well, perhaps before the flirting begins and ladies begin swooning at your feet, you can claim the dance you promised me,” Lucy said.

“Indeed, I did not forget.” He transferred their empty glasses to a passing footman and held out a hand as the music changed.

Lucy laid her hand in his, and they strolled to the center of the room. The waltz began. He pulled Lucy into his arms. “So, who here tonight does Auntie have her eye on for you?”

Lucy’s nose wrinkled again as she glanced up at him. “Colonel Harrington. But I won’t have it; he’s even older than you.”

Hart twirled her out with one hand and clasped the other to his chest in mock horror. “You wound me and all men of maturity with your derision.”

Her unladylike snort of laughter caught the attention of couples around them. “Ha! You mature?”

He slid a hand back to her waist and gave a playful squeeze. “Shush, you. You’re one to talk, you naughty thing.”

Lucy’s lips turned up into a small smile, which meant she was secretly pleased by his comment. Her gaze caught his as they moved across the parquet floor, and Hart recognized the flirtatious gleam in her eyes. She was incorrigible. He was far from immune to her beauty. But Lucy was under his protection and, by honor, off limits, not to mention that he was far too old for a girl so fresh-faced. The ten years between them made him feel positively lecherous. So much so that a year ago, he had sent Aunt Trudy and Lucy off to the continent on a grand tour just to have her out of his hair and off his mind.

“He is a terrible bore, and he looks at my person as though I am a present he can’t wait to unwrap.” She fluttered her eyelashes. “Perhaps you can scare him off for me with one of your stern ducal glares.”

Hart frowned. Despite her light tone, a tightness around her eyes spoke volumes to her discomfort. “I have something important I must attend to tonight, but I will have some words with the Colonel next time I see him at the club. He is far too old for you. What is Trudy thinking?”

“Perhaps she is tired of me.” Then Lucy shook her head, her sapphire earrings catching the candlelight as they swayed. “No, that’s not it. I am a delight.”

Hart laughed as Lucy intended. But as the music stopped, he lifted her chin with one finger, so she was forced to look at him. “I know that you think you no longer need someone to watch out for you, but if you ever need help, I want you to know you can count on me. I will always protect you.”

Her expression softened. “I know.” She turned and laid her hand on his arm as they headed back to where Aunt Trudy stood chatting with Lady Hathaway. “Where are you off to? You know Aunt Trudy will not approve of you slinking away to meet one of your mistresses during the party.”

“One of my mistresses?” He raised an eyebrow. “How many do I have?”

She shrugged. “I imagine a small harem perhaps?”

“As enticing as having my own harem sounds, tonight’s outing is strictly business.”

The night was thick with fog as Hart stepped down from his carriage. The mist wrapped around the light poles across the street and covered the trees in the park like a ghostly blanket.

His coachman, Thomas Kent, tilted his head toward the only other conveyance on the quiet street. “That is Lord Galey’s coach down there. I recognize Jack Davies, his coachman.”

“Thank you, Thomas. Just wait here.” Hart walked the fifty yards down to the other town coach.

Galey’s driver scrambled down from the box. “Good evening, Your Grace.” He pulled open the door.

Hart climbed into the carriage. Two matching oil lamps illuminated the interior and the tense features of the older man seated on the velvet squabs. Hart settled himself across from Galey and nodded. “Galey.”

“I’m glad you agreed to come, Hartwick.” He turned to his coachman. “Take a walk, Davies.”

The man nodded and shut the carriage door. Hart sat back and folded his hands in his lap. This was Galey’s show; he was here to listen. Galey took out a handkerchief and blotted his brow. The silence stretched. Hart wished to shake the man, to demand he tell him everything he knew about his father and brother’s deaths. Was Galey toying with him? Would he demand something first in payment for the information?

“Thank you for meeting me.” Galey cleared his throat. “What I am going to tell you has long weighed on my conscience.”

Hart again waited silently.

“But you must understand … what I mean is that the people who are responsible for the murder of your family are very powerful.”

He sat forward. “Murder? Do you know that it was not a random robbery?”

Galey nodded. “Your father’s betrayal was not taken well. He chose to support your brother instead of sticking to the agreement.” He shook his head. “I never thought that was so wrong. We all are just trying to protect our own, aren’t we?”

“I don’t understand. What are you getting at? Who did he betray?” Hart shook his head. None of this made sense.

The older man straightened, and his gaze snapped back to Hart. “They have ears everywhere. That’s why no one could see us meet tonight. But I can’t live with this guilt anymore. It’s not right. Henry was always a good friend.” His handkerchief came out again. He mopped his brow once more.

Hart was losing patience with the man. “Galey, what happened to my father and brother?”

“They were killed. For not following the plan—”

Next to him, the window shattered.

“They know!” Galey gasped.

A small earthenware jar sailed through the broken window and landed with a thud on the carriage floor. Hart stared at the lit fuse burning bright in the dark. His brain finally comprehending the danger, he flung open the door and vaulted onto the cobblestones. Turning, he reached out a hand. “Quick—”

The blast knocked him backward onto the hard pavement. Searing pain raced over his arm and chest. The smell of burning fabric filled his nostrils. Flames surrounded him. He flailed at them with his hands, but he could not fill his lungs with enough breath to call for help. Then he heard yelling and the heavy fall of footsteps. He was enveloped in black cloth that smelled of horse. The flames were extinguished. As the heavy cloth lifted, he tried to focus on the face above him. When he blinked, a sharp tearing agony tore through his right eye. His scream rent the air, and his vision dimmed as he slid into unconsciousness.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

He needs the truth and then revenge…

The Duke of Hartwick returns to London for the sole purpose to find and punish those who murdered his father and brother and nearly killed him for getting too close to the truth. But he doesn’t count on his great aunt and her charming and intelligent companion, Lucy Middleton awaiting his return. In another life, he and Lucy flirted and danced around their attraction. But his close brush with death has forever changed him. Lucy is as lovely as ever, but he won’t lose focus on his quest for the truth.

Lucy bursts back into his life like a ray of very determined sunshine. She needs his help avoiding an unpleasant suitor, and she declares he needs her help to rejoin society. As he begins his search, Lucy continuously interferes, no matter how much he growls at her. How is a man supposed to exact revenge with a persistent and beautiful companion always at his side?

As the Duke and Lucy join forces to investigate, they risk physical danger, scandal, and both of their hearts.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google |

Meet the Author:

From the time she read fairytales as a child, Karla Kratovil was hooked on stories that ended in Happily Ever After. Now as an author of sexy historical romance she gets to craft her own happy endings. Karla lives right on the edge of Northern Virginia’s wine country with her college sweetheart, two terrific teenagers, and two blond terriers. She is a Taurus. Like any good earth sign she loves good food, good wine, and getting her hands dirty growing things in her garden.

To keep in touch, sign up for her newsletter on her website –
Website | FacebookInstagram | GoodReads |




13 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Rumors, Ruin and the Duke by Karla Kratovil”

  1. Amy R

    I’d love to know if you like a little mystery in your romances? Yes
    Do you love a good plot twist? Yes

  2. Patricia B.

    Suspense, mystery, intrigue were always my first loves in fiction. I did not discover romance until much later. I enjoy romance when a bit or a lot of mystery is added.