The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.
But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.
The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:
All is fair in love and war.
“Happily, I am ignorant about boils,” he said. “Are American ladies typically knowledgeable about such matters?”
“I can’t help recalling facts,” she confessed. “It’s a sad trial to me because it’s hard to remember in time that they ought not to be shared.”
The corners of the man’s stern mouth had tipped upward in a most beguiling fashion. In fact, she found herself starting to lean toward him before she caught herself.
“There are few acceptable topics of conversation in London. It is quite wearying to try to remember what one is allowed to discuss,” she said with some feeling.
“Bonnets, but not boils?”
He must be something of a rake, Merry decided. The way his eyes laughed was very alluring.
“Exactly,” she said, nodding. “British ladies are discriminating conversationalists.”
“Don’t tell me you have ambitions to master the art of saying nothing.”
Merry laughed. “I fear I shall never become an expert at fashionable bibble-babble. What I truly dislike,” she said, finding herself confiding in him for no reason other than the fact that he seemed genuinely interested, “is that —”
She stopped, realizing that the subject was leading her to insult his countrymen. She was still a guest in this country, at least until she married Cedric; she should keep unfavorable opinions to herself.
The expression in his eyes was intoxicating, if only because no one else she’d met was interested in the impressions that an American had of their country. She loved London, if only for its marvelous public gardens, but there were aspects of polite society that she found tiresome.
“It’s the way people speak to each other,” she explained, choosing her words carefully. “They are clever, but their cleverness so frequently seems to take the form of an insult.”
Merry felt her cheeks growing warm. He must think her a complete simpleton. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate a witticism. But so very many remarks come at someone’s expense.”
He frowned at that. “Such people talk nothing but nonsense, and you should ignore them,” he ordered.
“Indeed, I am learning both to modify my subjects of conversation and to control my temper.”
“Admirable goals. Though I believe I’d like to see you in a passion.”
“You may mock me if you like, sir, but I can tell you that it is perishingly difficult for an American to transform herself into the perfect English lady! You should try it.”
He had a very appealing dent in his cheek when he smiled. “I’m quite sure I would fail. For one thing, I wouldn’t look anywhere near as appealing in a gown as you do.”
New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor
of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can
sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is a honest to goodness
Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and
even a guide to shopping in Florence. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.