After killing his opponent in a duel, Lionel Maitland, Marquess of Axbridge, is known as the Duke of Danger. Tortured by guilt, he shields himself with a devil-may-care attitude. However, when he kills another man in another duel, he’s beyond redemption, even though it wasn’t his fault. He refuses to smear a dead man’s name, especially when he’s left behind a blameless widow who doesn’t deserve an even bigger scandal.
Widowed and destitute, Lady Emmaline Townsend must marry the man of her parents’ choosing or beg unsympathetic relatives for support. The only way out is to ask for help from the one man she’s sworn to hate, the man who owes her anything she asks, the man who killed her husband. They strike a devil’s bargain in which passion simmers just beneath the surface. But her dead husband’s transgressions come back to haunt them and threaten their chance at love.
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Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. Visit Darcy online at darcyburke.com and sign up for her newsletter, follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/darcyburke, or like her Facebook page, facebook.com/DarcyBurkeFans.
Darcy offers an excerpt from THE DUKE OF DANGER ...
He still looked disheveled, but seductively so. His hair was mussed, as if he’d run his hand through it. His cravat was loose, hanging from his neck and leaving his shirt gaping open. He’d stripped his coat away upon entering the room. His state of undress would mean nothing in the context of a real marriage. But this wasn’t a real marriage.
She sipped the whiskey, taking a smaller amount than the first time. The fiery liquid had burned her throat, but she hadn’t flinched. Not in front of him.
Yes, suddenly he looked a bit dangerous. She angled toward the door. “I should go.”
“Don’t.” His eyes were dark and tormented. Barely controlled emotion radiated from him in ominous waves. “Who was the man you met at the park today?”
His appearance and his mood put her on edge, but that question pushed her over it. “I don’t have to answer to you.”
“Wives answer to their husbands.”
She glowered at him. “Except we don’t do that. Otherwise you would tell me why you challenged my husband.”
He seemed to grow a bit taller. “I am your husband.”
“In name only.”
He smirked, but the storms in his eyes raged. “How could I forget? Especially now that everyone is talking about it.”
She clutched the glass in her hand, hating that their marriage was a continual source of gossip, while also realizing it was unavoidable. She’d done the inconceivable by marrying her husband’s murderer. “Everyone?”
“Sir Duncan approached me at the club tonight. He knew our marriage was fake and wondered why you’d choose me over a perfectly fine offer from him. He concluded that I had to have pressed you into the union with less than savory methods.”
She began to see why he was so upset. “But you didn’t.”
“I know that, of course; however, I can’t tell anyone the truth now, can I? Or maybe I can. If it’s common knowledge our marriage isn’t real, why bother with the pretense? So I suppose it doesn’t matter if you’re meeting men in the park or shagging them, even.”
She sucked in a breath, and her hands began to shake. She reached past him and set her glass on the desk, then resumed her position in front of him. “You dare to question me about an innocent meeting with Geoffrey’s tailor—which you knew about—when everyone thinks you’re carrying on with Lady Richland?”
He leaned back against the edge of his desk and crossed his arms over his chest, giving her a look of superiority. “I’ve said I’m not, but what if we were? Would you really care? You’ve made it clear this marriage will be devoid of sex. You can’t really expect me to spend my entire life celibate.”
Her pulse pounded in her ears, and she repeated Aquilla’s declaration from that afternoon. “You could at least be discreet!”
“I am not having an affair with Marianne or with anyone else.” His lip curled. “But clearly, I should.”
“Perhaps I should as well. An entire life of celibacy does sound rather bleak, particularly after I enjoyed sharing my husband’s bed so much.”
His nostrils flared, and he dropped his arms to his sides. “Then by all means, take a lover.” He pushed away from the desk and prowled toward her until they were barely a few inches apart. “I’ll even make it easy for you—if you’re interested. I’m here, and I’m ready and willing. I’m also your lawfully wedded husband, and dare I say, convenient.”
He was so close, she could feel his heat and inhale his scent. He smelled of pine and sandalwood, and she suddenly realized just how long it had been since Geoffrey had touched her.
“Are you asking me to change the rules?” She stared up at him, her body shifting from anger to something far more dangerous. She couldn’t deny what he said—he was convenient. And she wanted…something.
No, she wanted him.
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