Lady Ellen Hammond languished for years at Madame Foret’s Academy for Young Ladies while her fiancé and guardian, the Duke of Ralston, enjoyed a rake’s life in London. When she must return to England to escape the violence of the Revolution, she decides that the life of a long-suffering duchess-in-waiting is not for her.
Posing as a valet, Devon Townsley, the Duke of Ralston, accompanies Robert Montclair to Paris to rescue Ellen and her English friends. Unprepared to settle down, he wants to see if his fiancée will make a suitable duchess. He has his doubts when he must rescue her from captivity in a brothel.
Determined to settle her business in London and travel the world, Ellen finds romance and passion with Rob’s aggravating valet, Tobias Stanford. When sparks ignite between the two and burst into a passionate affair, Devon reconsiders his commitment to living a rake’s life. He discovers, however, that his deceit has a high price.
Duchess in Waiting, Embracing the Dream 1, The Montclair Chronicles
A Siren Erotic Romance
Devon walked into the library, poured himself a snifter of brandy, and sat in one of the comfortable leather chairs. Although he frequented the houses, he was not accustomed to attacking them to rescue whores. It amazed him that Rob who was only twenty years old had been so competent. He’d shown a potential for leadership he himself had never considered developing, if he possessed it.
His friend’s consideration of the women and child showed himself in a poor light. Yes, he went after Ellen, but she was his fiancée. Even so, he was more concerned about spying on her than mounting a rescue. In a matter of hours, he realized his concerns about her behavior were unfounded. Ellen would make an outstanding duchess, just not now.
The door opened and Ellen entered. She took the chair beside him. “Did the rescue go well?”
“Well enough. The women and Maddie are safe now.”
“How fares Isabeau?”
“Jacqui was correct. Francois beat Isabeau because he believed she had betrayed Marie. It is not an uncommon situation for women of the demimonde.”
“What is a demimonde?”
“You don’t need to concern yourself with these matters.”
“Mr. Stanley, do not think to judge what I should and should not concern myself with. If you refuse to answer my question, I will ask Rob tomorrow.”
He smiled. “I believe you’ll discover Lord Robert is not familiar with the subject. He does not frequent the houses.”
“I suppose you do.”
“Occasionally. I am a single man with needs.”
“I know nothing about your needs. If you won’t answer my questions, I’ll ask Jacqui and Isabeau. I know Isabeau from my church and the school. I’ve not seen Jacqui there. I doubt Father John would allow her in church in those strange clothes she wears. I will ask about those also.”
“You can’t speak to those women. They are not of your class.”
Ellen jumped out of her chair and advanced on him, glorious again in her anger. “Do not speak of class to me. Those poor women want what is best for their children. They should not be looked down upon for how they earn their living.”
He stood and towered over her. “You know nothing about how they live or what they do. They sell their bodies to men to do with as they please. You should not associate yourself with women like that.”
“I saw far more than I should have when I visited Marie’s. None of which I understood, but I will discover what I need to know. After all, according to the newspapers, my fiancé spends much of his time in places likes Marie’s. Why should I not know more about the company he keeps?”
“He is a man with a man’s needs. It is not for you to say what he may or may not do, even after you are married. I’m sure he would not tolerate it. No doubt he will keep his mistresses. True ladies ignore their husbands’ extramarital activities.”
“I’m sure you know all about him. Wedding vows are sacred. Once taken, they should not be broken. Adultery is a sin. I won’t tolerate it.”
“The women of the Ton accept what they must. Some even have affairs of their own, but a duke’s wife must hold herself above that.”
“There will be no affairs for me, but I hear no talk of love. I will not marry where there is no love. My mother did not, neither will I. Emmy swore she would geld Rob, if he was unfaithful. I will ask Jacqui about gelding unfaithful husbands. I think she knows much and would be willing to share.”
“You’re not to visit those women. Thank God, you don’t know where they are staying. Rob said he knew just the place. I’ll make sure he doesn’t tell you anything.”
“You’re awfully cozy with your employer. Why should I not know what I wish to know? My fiancé is known as a reprobate with vast knowledge. Why should I enter a marriage without ever being kissed?”
“A kiss. You want a kiss, Lady Ellen? Here’s your kiss.” He pulled her into his arms and lowered his lips to hers. She froze in his arms, then melted and returned his kiss with an innocence that touched him. He eased back to give her a moment to adjust to him, but she pulled him closer. Her eagerness excited him. He eased his tongue between her lips. She started and pulled back, then touched her tongue to his.
He pulled her against him and deepened their kiss. His hands slid down her back to her bottom, liking the feel of her against him. He kneaded the cheeks of her bottom and pulled her even closer against his burgeoning erection.
She stilled, then pushed against his cock. Her small gasp pleased him. He allowed her to rub against him while their kiss continued, seemingly without end. Then she pushed away and took a deep breath. Should he have warned her to breathe?
She bent over at her waist and took a few deep breaths. When she stood up, there was a fire in her eyes. He watched her as she pulled back and slapped him hard across the face.
“How dare you?” She ran out of the library as though it were on fire, leaving him alone with his erection. The woman would be the death of him. He drank deeply from the snifter. He would have to warn Rob to keep quiet about the whores’ refuge.