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389 pages, Kindle Edition
First published August 22, 2017
“If it’s a wife you want,” she said, “surely you could find many women—many well-bred ladies—who would be willing to marry you.”My panties are so wet right now. Lol. I can't even tell you how dumb this book is.
“Yes, but I’d have to find them. This saves me so much effort.”
She threw him a sidelong glance. “Can you not hear yourself? Do you truly not know how insulting that sounds?”
“I should think it sounds beneficent. I’m offering you a title and fortune. All you have to do is lie back in the dark, then spend nine months swelling up like a tick. What could possibly deter any woman from accepting?”
“I know what you’re thinking, Miss Gladstone.”Darcy did it better, fam.
She doubted it.
“You’re incredulous. How could a woman of your standing possibly ascend to such a rank? I can’t deny you’ll find yourself outclassed and un-befriended among the ladies of the peerage, but you will no doubt be consoled with the material advantages. A lavish home, generous lines of credit at all the best shops, a large settlement in the event of my death. You may pay calls, go shopping. Engage in some charitable work, if you must. Your days will be yours to do whatever you wish.” His voice darkened. “Your nights, however, will belong to me.”
A savage growl rose in Ash’s throat. “Like the devil you will.” Brandishing his walking stick like a sword, he sliced the air in a wide arc, forcing the footpads back. “Touch her and you will pay with your lives, you diseased, maggoty curs.”Throughout the book, he is obsessed with getting an heir, and there are so many references to impregnating her. It just gets irritating.
The cat was the most foul, filthy, repulsive creature Ashbury had seen in his life, outside of the rare occasions when he regarded himself in a mirror. It was no more than a collection of bones encased in smudge-colored fur, and doubtless crawling with fleas.Oh, and as if this book didn't need more quirky characters, there is a random Indian butler, a lady's maid who speaks far above her station, and many, many new friends with questionable animals. This book is like a Regency manic pixie dream girl fantasy.
His bride clutched the beast with both hands, holding it in front her like some sort of spinster bouquet.
A bleating sound came from somewhere toward the rear of the house.
“Oh, that’s Marigold.” Penny lifted the teapot. “Never mind her.”
“The goat,” Nicola explained.
“She’s sick in love with Angus, and she’s most displeased about being quarantined. She has the sniffles, you see.”
“You have two goats, then?”
“Oh, no. Angus is a Highland calf. I shouldn’t encourage them, but they’re herd creatures. They each need a companion.
Emma Gladstone had learned a few hard lessons by the age of two-and-twenty. Charming princes weren’t always what they seemed. Shining armor went out of fashion with the Crusades. And if fairy godmothers existed, hers was running several years late. Most of the time, a girl needed to rescue herself.
Complexion: cream. Lips: rose petals. Lashes: sable. Backbone: steel.
Are you—” There seemed no way to say it but to say it. “Your Grace, are you trying to get me into your bed?”
“Yes. Nightly. I said as much, not a minute ago. Are you listening at all?”
“Listening, yes,” she muttered to herself. “Comprehending, no.”
“I’ll have my solicitor draw up the papers.” He returned to his place behind the desk. “We can do it on Monday.”
“Your Grace, I don’t—”
“Your Grace, I cannot—”
“Well, I’m afraid my schedule is quite booked for the rest of the week.” He flipped through the pages of an agenda. “Brooding, drinking, indoor badminton tournament . . .”
she tucked a stray wisp of dark hair behind her ear. Then she licked her fingertip and turned the page. His knees buckled. In his mind, he scrambled to piece that half second into a lasting memory. The crook of her slender finger. The red pout of her lips. That fleeting, erotic glimpse of pink. She did it again. Ash gripped the doorjamb so hard, his knuckles lost sensation.
He wanted her to read the whole cursed book while he watched. He wanted the book to have a thousand pages.
You are wet, and you are cold. You don’t like being cold. Therefore, I despise you being cold. I would go about murdering raindrops and setting fire to the clouds, but that would take slightly more than an hour. Perhaps even two. So we’re here, and you will cease complaining about it.”
“Charming princes weren’t always what they seemed. Shining armor went out of fashion with the Crusades. And if fairy godmothers existed, hers was running several years late.”
“Your days will be yours to do whatever you wish." His voice darkened. "Your nights, however, will belong to me.”
“You’re here...In my heart. Somehow you crashed your way into it when I wasn’t looking. The same way you barged into my library, I suppose. But you’re here now, inside.”
War had taught him two things. First, life was fleeting. Second, duty wasn’t.
“I have an unfortunate habit of looking for the best in people, and it makes me blind to their flaws.”
“If you say so, my treasure.”
“I daresay I do, you little baggage.”
“And you claim to be feeling this way. Floatish. Singsong-ish. About me.”
She sighed. “Yes.”
“I know, but I can’t seem to stop it.”
“If you leave, I will follow. Do you hear me? I will follow and find you and cart you home.”
“I like to know the names of the people I despise. I keep them in a little book and pore over it from time to time, whilst sipping brandy and indulging in throaty, ominous laughter.”
He had to be joking. “You can’t be asking me to marry you.”
He sighed with annoyance. “I am a duke. I’m not asking you to marry me. I am offering to marry you. It’s a different thing entirely.”
“Would you like more sauce, sweeting?”
His fingers strangled the stem of his wineglass. She could practically hear the grapes calling for help. She hoped that was a good sign. “If you don’t cease that nonsense,” he said, “you will regret it.”
“Is that so, my heart?”
“What about ‘precious’?” she suggested.
In response to that, he hit the shuttlecock so hard, it sailed all the way to the back wall and thwacked one of his ancestors right in the powdered wig. She cheered. “Well done, my precious angel muffin.”
“This stops,” he said. “Now.”
“You are wet, and you are cold. You don’t like being cold. Therefore, I despise you being cold. I would go about murdering raindrops and setting fire to the clouds, but that would take slightly more than an hour. Perhaps even two. So we’re here, and you will cease complaining about it.”
“You’re here,”he repeated, taking her hand and drawing it against his chest, right above his pounding heartbeat. “In my heart. Somehow you crashed your way into it when I wasn’t looking. The same way you barged into my library, I suppose. But you’re here now, inside. Emma, you’re the very life of me.”
“Emma Gladstone had learned a few hard lessons by the age of two-and-twenty. Charming princes weren’t always what they seemed. Shining armor went out of fashion with the Crusades. And if fairy godmothers existed, hers was running several years late. Most of the time, a girl needed to rescue herself.”
“A broodmare. Hm. I’m not certain I mind that comparison. If you’re a broodmare, that would make me the stud.”
“And there,” she said, “is the injustice of the world in a nutshell.”
“If Emma didn’t keep his attention focused on her, he would see Alexandra, and this already uncomfortable scene would enter . . . well, not quite the ninth circle of Hell, but Dante’s lesser known invention: the sixth octagon of awkward.”