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She’s Got a Duke to Keep Her Warm is a Christmas in July Fete pick #holidayromance #giveaway

Title: She’s Got a Duke to Keep Her Warm

Author: Sandra Sookoo

Genre: Historical romance/Regency/Christmas/holiday romance

Book Blurb:

A lady’s companion with no prospects. A duke who has turned his back on romance. A wild snowstorm that leaves them both stranded. It’ll be a holiday neither of them will forget.

Resigning herself to becoming a companion to an elderly peeress is Miss Hope Marie Atwater’s last chance for a decent life. Though she’s unwanted, undesired, and unloved at five and twenty, being on the shelf hasn’t completely stolen her spirit. Her one wish at Christmastide is to stumble upon a man who will look past her drab life’s circumstances to the spirited woman beneath, but that would take a miracle.

Christmastide only brings maudlin memories he’d rather forget to Brook Gerard Clevenger, Duke of Denton. He wants to bury himself at his country estate, for the thought of merrymaking reminds him of all he’s lost. A widower of three years, he’s not looking for another romance; one was enough, and the pain will last a lifetime despite the fact he might welcome companionship or the chance for a stolen kiss.

Traveling respectively through north Derbyshire—one coming, one going—misfortune is their lot. A fierce winter storm blows in and strands them at a posting inn where the situation isn’t ideal. During a meeting in the courtyard, a common denominator takes them by surprise. As Christmastide nears, the class divide disappears, and the desire simmering between them explodes into something undeniably heated and intense. With three nights until Christmas, the wonder of romance might just be the gift they both need.


“Enjoy this time. Rarely are we given such a boon as not having a schedule to keep.” Then he nuzzled the crook of her shoulder. The hand on her hip gathered the fabric of her shift and slowly drew the hem up her leg.

Hope froze. Her breath stalled in her throat as foreign sensations zipped from the roots of her hair to the tips of her toes. Though she’d shared one embrace with her fiancé, had granted him liberties and gave the same before he’d begged off the engagement, that long ago episode hadn’t made her feel both hot and cold at the same time as the duke’s sleep-drugged exploration did. Still, scandal lay this way, and if word got out it might destroy her chances of landing the companion position.

What would she do then?

For that matter, what should she do now? As his nuzzling continued and his fingers at her hip encountered bare skin, a sigh of pure enjoyment escaped her. There was no harm in letting him think whatever he did, for she would make certain the embrace didn’t grow into full-blown gossip. When she wriggled and her bottom bumped his erection, the groan that shivered from him heightened her awareness of him.


“Shh.” He continued to nuzzle the crook of her shoulder while caressing her thigh. “The night is less frightening when you are not alone.” Did that mean the darkness left him worried as well? There was no way to tell. The only thing she knew for certain was that each touch he gave her left her trembling with a need she didn’t fully understand.

The fact she didn’t dissuade him confused her, but then she stopped thinking altogether, for his fingers drifted to the curls shrouding her sex. Her breathing increased. Oh, good heavens, what did he intend? And would she let him if he went further? She didn’t know. Instead, Hope enjoyed having a man’s hands on her, working to relax her and keep her worries at bay.

When he peppered the underside of her jaw with feather-weighted kisses, a slight moan escaped her, and she lifted her chin to allow him greater access. The rasp of his evening stubble sent a rush of need through her system. What would that feel like against the more sensitive parts of her body? Would there ever be an opportunity to know?

His fingers danced over her skin between her mons and her hip, never quite venturing between her thighs, but just thinking about what that might be like left her quivering with anticipation. Daring much, Hope slightly turned into him, and he rewarded the effort by gliding his lips along the side of her neck. Gentle nips and nibbles followed that made her catch her breath. Tingles fell down her spine, for the attention, the little bursts of pleasure he imparted were so startling that it was so obvious at how neglected she had been over the years.

“Mmm.” She managed to rest a palm against his naked chest. What she wouldn’t give to have the right to explore his body. What would his skin feel like, taste like to her lips, her tongue? “This is lovely.” It was also folly to allow it to continue, but she couldn’t bear to bid him nay. All her life she’d yearned to discover what being wanted—claimed—by a man felt like.

“The night was made for kissing.” One of his hands drift upward to cup her breast. Hope gasped as she adjusted to the feel of his palm against her hardened nipple. The heat of his fingers seemed to sear through the fabric of her shift. Pleasure rippled out from the hardened bud he rubbed his fingertips over. Her altered position made it all too easy for him to slip the fingers of his free hand between her slightly parted thighs. Heated tingles moved through her lower belly. “Ah, love, it has been too long. I have missed you.”

A chill moved down Hope’s spine. Oh, dear Lord. In his half-sleeping state, did he assume he was with his dead wife? Was he indeed drifting in and out of a dream even as he was touching, caressing, kissing her? No matter how wonderful it felt to be in his arms or letting him have intimate access to her, all the fun and excitement of the moment faded if he thought her someone else. This isn’t right.

“Brook?” She shoved at his shoulder, but he didn’t wake. “Your Grace? You must leave off.” With a hand pressed firmly to his chest, she pushed at his body. “This isn’t right. I am not your wife.” Goodness but she hated the catch in her voice. Of course she couldn’t inspire a man like him to passion for her own self. If he hadn’t been lost to memories and dreams, would he have done the same?

Unfortunately, Hope already suspected the answer.

He came fully awake with a gasp and a soft curse. “Hope?” The duke immediately tore himself away from her and sat up in the bed. The covers slid down his torso, and she couldn’t help but stare at his chest even though it was shrouded by shadows. “Dear God, please tell me I didn’t violate you.” Horror rang in the inquiry, and it sent a ball of tears into her throat.

“You did not.” Was she so hideous, then, that the thought of doing exactly that turn his stomach? To stave off tears, she cleared her throat. “I suspect you merely wished to offer me comfort when I awoke disoriented and frightened from the storm and in a strange place.” The lie was needed to set him at ease. Not for worlds would she admit to what he’d really done or how much she had enjoyed it.

“Ah. I apologize all the same.” He slid from the bed quickly as if she might bite him. “I sometimes dream of my wife, and sometimes those dreams are so real, so vivid I can see her, touch her, and then I remember…”

“There is no need for an explanation, Your Grace.” His explanation was heart wrenching, but she understood. Often, she’d taken refuge into dreams when life had been far kinder and simpler, and there was no struggle with reality.

“All the same, I shall pass the remainder of the night on the floor. Be assured, nothing like this will happen again.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What I love most about the holiday season:

The sights, the sounds, the coziness, and it’s my favorite time of the year to write about!

Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?

Who doesn’t like a romance set at Christmas? This is a road trip romance set at Christmas, one room at the end, pretend engagement, commoner wins a duke, plus love at first sight all with the backdrop of Christmas.

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card:

Open internationally.

Runs July 1 – 31, 2023.

Drawing will be held on August 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

Sandra Sookoo is a USA Today bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. That is why her characters are not in the usual style and oftentimes struggle with things out of the norm. She’s written for publication since 2008. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in the Victorian era, or historical romantic suspense complete with mystery and intrigue. Reading is a lot like eating chocolates—you can’t just have one book. Give her the chance with one book and you’ll be hooked.

When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards or mice, Sandra spends time with her real-life Prince Charming in Central Indiana where she also runs a gourmet cookie business and makes moments count with the man because the key to life is laughter. Inspired to storytelling by Walt Disney since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fills the well and fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.

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Rita Wray
Rita Wray
Jul 21, 2023

Great excerpt and cover.


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jul 21, 2023

Thank you, Sandra, for sharing your book in our Christmas in July Fete!

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