Title: The Duke of Diamonds
Author: Emily Windsor
Genre: Regency Romance
In the coldest flint, there is fire...
Casper Brook, the eighth Duke of Rothwell, has forever spurned frivolous pleasures, his restless emotions remaining buried beneath duty and command.
Yet when a titian-haired minx perches upon his ducal desk and claims to know the whereabouts of his one burning obsession, a game of wits and passion erupts... Fire ignites from a spark...
Miss Evelyn Pearce possesses naught but a frail young sister and an ebony-black cat. Left destitute by her baronet father's spendthrift ways, fate and talent hand her the opportunity to seek escape from the dangerous alleys of London town.
The cold Duke of Diamonds holds the key, and all Evelyn must do is resist his not-so-cold kiss... A dance of flaming desire...
A passion forged on secrets can never be satisfied, but as guises fall and plots unravel, will the duke's controlled façade shatter to reveal his searching heart within?
Dark-sapphire eyes held no expression, firm features with not a hint of dissipation neither smiled nor scowled, broad shoulders and slender physique encased in indigo blue rose tall, and short hair the colour of spun sunshine gleamed.
The Duke of Rothwell appeared a gentleman in his prime. Lean, impeccably dressed and handsome as Apollo.
As the caricature had portrayed, a lion of a man. But not one that lounged in the heat of the day with his pride. No, this lion remained alert, mane shorn, his imperious air and magnificent stature commanding attention and respect.
And into his lair, Evelyn stepped.
“I do not have much time…” He glanced to the papers on his desk. “…Mrs Swift. So please, live up to your name.”
His voice, despite its chill tone, was every maiden’s innocent dream…and every woman’s wicked desire. And it scraped along Evelyn’s skin as though his eminently clean fingernail had raked her throat.
At Matilda’s, they’d debated how Evelyn should act. Her friend had voted for a business-like, competent attitude but this powerful duke must have efficiency up to his perfect white cravat. Artemisia had elected for demure, but hesitating now, Evelyn knew a demure lady could do nothing but cower beneath those arctic eyes.
No, this duke would need–
“Get yer paws off me!”
Evelyn swivelled as Flora flounced through the door, the rather handsome butler firmly gripping her upper arm, a frown creasing his brow as he peered at her crooked maid’s hat.
“Copperhouse,” the duke demanded, “what’s all the fuss?”
The butler peered down an aquiline nose that denoted a fine lineage begun on the wrong side of some noble bedsheet. “Nothing to concern oneself, Your Grace. Solely a wandering maid.” And he cast her a distrustful glance.
“Oy! You can shov–”
“Flora!” chastened Evelyn. “Perhaps you could take tea in the kitchens whilst His Grace and I conduct business?”
She sensed, rather than saw, all those male eyebrows levitate.
The butler took no heed, however, and peered to the duke for guidance.
Turning, she noticed Rothwell’s stare upon her…backside?
But his eyelashes instantly flickered up and she told herself it had merely been in the way. Although leaner than it once was after a diet of potatoes and…potatoes, her frame was not of a sylph – it had forever been robust and durable, her hips naturally rounded, a bosom that required a decent corset.
“Best leave the door ajar, Copperhouse, and take the maid away.”
Bemoaning – or was it admiring – the butler’s fearsome grasp, Flora was removed.
“Do sit, Mrs Swift, and state your business. My man of affairs left a note citing it was art related.” The Duke of Rothwell took to his own leather chair in a fluid motion and stilled, not a crease to his forehead or quirk to his lip.
Blank – a canvas waiting to be painted.
Any proper lady would act deferentially to such a stern and composed figure of a man, but too many years living amongst the hoi polloi had blunted such considerations, and all Evelyn craved to do was…muss his hair, create havoc upon his impassive features and tug that cravat loose.
Most men in the area she lived had toned bodies – they may have no teeth, but hard labour gave them muscle and broad thighs. The duke appeared similar but he also incorporated a lithe grace, and his fingers as they clasped on the desk were slender and outstretched, an impressive signet ring adorning the smallest.
Despite his aloof expression and utterly motionless demeanour, he radiated sultriness and strength.
A solitary animal. The most dangerous kind.
And here they were.
The scent of books, beeswax polish and smouldering coal stirred an intimate ambiance, despite the grandeur of the room. Paintings held pride of place on the wall behind the duke – a Reynolds, Rubens, and an elegant Gainsborough, if she wasn’t much mistaken.
Surrounded by such art, her tension eased.
Evelyn focused on his striking yet cold face and a desire she’d not experienced for years came to the fore. A desire she’d not had time for.
As a young girl, she’d flirted with handsome artists who’d littered her father’s home and enjoyed the pleasure of witty repartee and teasing gazes.
That young girl had declared her attitude.
Reckless. Playful. Unabashed.
Evelyn considered her looks passable at best, neither plain nor a great beauty, but she’d observed the coquettish glances from the models her father had painted, noticed how the women of Covent Garden enticed.
Surely she could rattle that impassive expression of the duke’s.
Unstiffen him a little.
And she wondered. She wondered if a light flirtation might be her best approach.
So, Evelyn refused to sit.
Instead, she trailed a single gloved finger along his rather magnificent desk.
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'"The Duke of Diamonds" is an emotionally gripping, captivating historical romance that pulls readers in and doesn't let go until the very end!
...delivers a powerful romance to readers that will put Emily Windsor on their must-buy list!' - InD'tale Magazine ★★★★★ & a Crowned Heart of Excellence.
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