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Spotlight: Only a Duke Will Do by Tamara Gill

Publication date: February 20th 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Synopsis

Without a Season, Lady Isolde Worthingham captured the Duke of Moore’s heart at a country dance. But on the eve of her wedding, a scandal that rocked the ton and sent her fleeing to Scotland alone and unwed, leaves her perfectly planned future in a tangle of disgrace and heartbreak.

Merrick Mountshaw, the Duke of Moore loathes the pitiful existence he hides from the ton. With a scandalous wife he never wanted, who flaunts her many indiscretions, life is a never-ending parade of hell. When the one woman he loved and lost returns to London, he knows he can no longer live without her.

But vows and past hurts are not easily forgotten. Love may not win against the ton when a too proper Lord and Lady play by the rules.

Excerpt

“I’m sorry you feel that way, but you cannot stop Isolde from marrying. She will marry one day. It may not be me, but it will be someone. And if the reports around London are correct, she is looking for a husband.”

“Damn you to hell.” Merrick left Wardoor, grabbed a half-filled bottle of whisky from the pavilion, and started toward the Italian Walk. He found a secluded grassy spot within the trees. The sweet-smelling scent floating on the breeze did little to lesson his ire.

Merrick clung to the tree branch above his head and fought not to snap it off, imagining it as Wardoor’s neck. He flung back a good portion of the whisky and welcomed the burn to his throat. How could his closest friend do this to him?

The thought of Isolde welcoming his attentions was like a physical blow.

Damn them. Damn him.

“Moore!”

It had always boded trouble when Isolde called him by his title. He turned, wanting and yet not wanting her here right at this moment. “My lady.”

She came up to him, standing but a few feet from his person, close enough to reach out and touch, to pull close and take what he desperately sought. And wished for.

“What do you think you’re doing, running off Wardoor from courting me?”

“He told you?” Merrick made a note to choke the bastard to death the next time he was in range to do so.

“Yes, he told me. After seeing you two trying to kill each other, in front of everyone, I might add, I asked him what you were about. Demanded to know, in fact.” She placed her hands on her hips, her perfect brow marred with a slight frown. Hell, she was beautiful. More beautiful than when he had met her at Cranleigh. “Now answer the question.”

“He’s my friend.”

She stood staring at him a while, before she slouched, as if gauging his meaning. “Merrick, you keep forgetting you married someone else. You have to let me go, if this is your struggle.”

It was his struggle. A constant gnawing on his soul that would never leave. “What if I do not want to?”

 -----

“I’ve lost him. And I love him still.” Her voice broke at the realization.

Her mother shushed her, pulling her into an embrace. “I know, darling. I know you do. But there is nothing for it now. You will have to return with us to Dunsleigh.”

Isolde thought of all she had lost, not just Merrick, but her future, their plans. Their trip away to the Continent, Paris, Rome, and all the delightful places in between that they were going to visit, crumbled in her chest like her heart. “He’s really going to marry her, isn’t he?” Even saying such a thing sounded absurd, and yet it was the truth. The truth as she would know it from tonight onward.

“Yes, he is.” Her mother’s face was a mask of concern and pain. “I’m so sorry, darling. You did not deserve this.”

Isolde strove to calm down before her sobs woke her sisters and they started with their meddling questions. Her body hiccupped for breath; her eyes, so swollen and sore, hurt when she blinked.

“Come, you must sleep.” Her mother helped her stand, and Isolde didn’t fight her decree. Tiredness would succeed over her mind and, for a sweet moment, she’d forget what had transpired this night. It was enough to make her lie down and try.

She settled under the blankets. The maid knocked on the door and her mother ushered her into the room, taking possession of the glass of whisky and a cold compress. Isolde downed the drink in one gulp, grateful for the burning amber liquid and the cooling cloth against her eyes.

The tears started afresh when the comforting embrace of her mother wrapped around her, pulling her close and holding her as if to never let her go. Not since she was a child had her mother acted in such a way, and some of the despair left her, knowing she had the support of her family.

She would need them in the months to come.

She took a shuddering breath. How could a night once filled with so much excitement and anticipation twist into such despair and horror? Rolling onto her side, the ring Merrick had given her pressed into her cheek.

She held out her hand and looked at the cluster of five round diamonds, each of them encased in a bed of silver and sitting on a band of gold that was etched into a leaflike pattern. The ring had been Merrick’s grandmother’s, and it had been the most beautiful gift Isolde had ever received.

But no longer. Now it represented a fractured circle of trust, pulled apart and unfixable.

She yanked it off, unable to throw it no matter how much she longed to. She reached over and placed it on the cabinet beside her bed, looking at it as it twinkled prettily under the candlelight. The ring and its beauty were as fickle as its owner.

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About the Author

Tamara is an Australian author who grew up in an old mining town in country South Australia, where her love of history was founded. So much so, she made her darling husband travel to the UK for their honeymoon, where she dragged him from one historical monument and castle to another.

A mother of three, her two little gentleman in the making, a future lady (she hopes) and a part-time job keep her busy in the real world, but whenever she gets a moment's peace she loves to write romance novels in an array of genres, including regency, medieval and paranormal.

Tamara loves hearing from readers and writers alike. You can contact her through her website, and sign up to follow her blog or newsletter.

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