What the Duke Wants
Agents of Change, Book 1
Author: Amy E. Quinton
Genre: Romance - Adult, Regency, Historical
Length: 320 pages / 92,000 words
EBook ISBN: 978-1-62210-184-9
Print Book ISBN: 1503304698
England 1814: Upstanding duke desperately seeks accident-prone wife from trade…
She is from trade. He is a duke and an agent for the crown with a name to restore and a mystery to solve. Miss Grace (ha!) Radclyffe is an oftentimes hilariously clumsy, 20-year-old orphan biding her time living with her uncle until she is old enough to come into her small inheritance. Much to her aunt’s chagrin:
- Reserved – not with her shocking! tendency to befriend the servants…
- Sophisticated – highly overrated if one cannot run around barefoot outside…
- Graceful – she once flung her dinner into a duke’s face… on accident, of course.
But she is:
- Practical – owning a fashion house is in her future; unless someone foils her plans…
- In love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…
The Duke of Stonebridge is a man with a tragic past. His father died mysteriously when he was 12 years old amid speculation that the old duke was ‘involved’ with another man. He must restore his family name, but on the eve of his engagement to the perfect debutante, he meets his betrothed’s cousin, and his world is turned inside out… No matter:
He is always:
- Logical – men who follow their hearts and not their heads are foolish…
- Reserved – his private life is nobody’s business but his own…
And he isn’t:
- Impulsive – it always leads to trouble…
- Charming – that’s his best friend, the Marquess of Dansbury’s, area of expertise…
- In love… maybe… perhaps… possibly…
Can he have what he wants and remain respectable? Can she trust him to be the man she needs?
…her chuckles died in her throat as she caught sight of the very man who occupied her mind day after day: Stonebridge.
Her hand rose to her chest as if she could physically steady her racing heart. He was so mind numbingly handsome and her heart literally ached with the knowledge that he would never be hers. It was so ridiculously unfair.
She watched as he entered a nearby building. He hadn’t seen her amidst the crowd, of course. Once out of sight, she was able to walk again. She strode forward hesitantly. Honestly, she should flee to the safety of the hotel, not loiter outside, dying with curiosity and the desire for just another, quick glimpse, but alas, she couldn’t make herself leave.
She passed the building he had entered and tried hard not to be so obvious as to ogle the door, but she did look and made note of the sign identifying the place as the offices of Tolley and Brinks, Esquire.
She passed a few more shop fronts, then turned. Her face was warm with embarrassment.
What am I doing?
She walked past the solicitors’ office again and passed a few more shops before shaking her head, resigned.
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Prince Regent plans Grand Jubilee in London!” called out a young boy, hawking broadsheets nearby. She heard him above the general din of horses, carriage wheels and people bustling about their business as she maneuvered her way through the throng of carriages to the opposite side of the street.
Once there, she purchased a paper, then made her way to a nearby bench which happened to be situated directly across the street from the duke’s solicitors’ office.
Convenient, that. She sat, only for a moment, mind. To read the paper. Honestly.
Oh, who am I trying to fool?
For half an hour, her heart missed a beat every time the door to the solicitors’ office opened. Really, what was she planning to do once he did come out? Dash into his arms? Call his name from across the thoroughfare? Run away and hide? She asked herself these questions, over and over again, the entire time; she certainly was no more aware of the latest news than from before she’d bought her paper.
Finally, at long last, he came out of the building, and he saw her instantly. She stood on reflex and looked back. For an eternity but only a minute, they stared at each other across the avenue, and her heart thundered faster than ever. Before reality intruded. This wasn’t wise and just as she recognized the truth of that, she saw his expression change from surprise to murderous.
Right. Time to go.
She tried to go around the bench at the same he stepped out onto the street.
Zounds! He was coming.
But in her haste to leave, she rounded the bench too carelessly, only to have her reticule catch on the bench’s arm, jerking her to a stop. Unfortunately, her nerves, along with the bench, conspired against her, and she stumbled to her knees.
The hand holding her bag came down hard onto the bench seat, over the arm rest. She’d have a bruise under her arm tomorrow from that. The straps of her reticule, still caught, pulled tight on her wrist, turning her skin white, then red and puffy. Her other hand, which had whipped out reflexively, hit the ground. It just stopped her from cracking her chin on the bench.
Why, oh why, did I even get out of bed this morning?
She closed her eyes in humiliation. All around her, people fell silent; even the boy no longer peddled his papers. She could make out the occasional horse and carriage, but even the whinnying of a nearby horse sounded like laughter to ears colored with embarrassment. She could hear the sound of running feet, boots striking on cobbles, and she knew that Stonebridge was dashing across the street—coming to rescue her.
He arrived a moment later, slightly out of breath, and she smiled at the thought that he’d run all that way…in public. For her.
Amy Quinton is an author and full time mom living in Summerville, SC. She enjoys writing (and reading!) sexy, historical romances. She lives with her husband, two boys, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to go camping, hiking, and canoeing/kayaking… And did she mention reading? When she’s not reading, cleaning, or traveling, she likes to make jewelry, sew, knit, and crochet (Yay for Ravelry!).