To Ruin The Duke

Avon
May 2009
ISBN: 978-0061577857

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The Disreputable Duke

All of London is abuzz with the shocking exploits of Thornton Matherton, Duke of Wyldehaven, a man as sinful and wild as his name. He plays fast and loose with money, drink, and women. Or does he? An impostor has tarnished Thorton's good name, and the real duke will not rest until he has proven his virtue.

A Righteous Lady

Abandoned by her aristocratic father when she was a child, Miranda Fontaine despises the nobility. Despite her distrust, she visits the Duke of Wyldehaven on an urgent mission. Miranda will do whatever it takes to pin down the notorious duke even if it means seducing him herself.

Passion's Ruin

Desperate to escape the web of deceit and clear his name, Thornton cannot bear the distraction of Miranda's supple skin and alluring eyes. Her beauty will be his undoing...and her bed will be the site of his most wicked ruin...

 

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AWARDS AND REVIEWS

Finalist in the Regency and Historical category of the Book Buyer's Best Awards.

"Debra Mullins' finely crafted story weaves unforgettable characters with a steamy romance, blended with hints of humor and intrigure that combine into a passionate tale. This historical romance is not just a hot and steamy read but is one that is also a lot of fun.- Night Owl Romance

 

Excerpt from To Ruin The Duke

Wylde strode down the hallway of his London home slightly the worse for wear, as he had not found his bed until dawn. He had spent last evening as he had spent all others since Michael’s funeral, combing the gaming hells of London in an effort to track down the blackguard posing as the Duke of Wyldehaven. He always seemed to be just a step behind the fellow, and everyone he spoke to said the same thing. They all appeared to recognize Wylde and claimed they had witnessed him gaming or fighting or seducing a woman or some other mischief. Gathering even that little bit of information had proven time-consuming and expensive.

This cat and mouse chase had begun to weary him, especially since he was beginning to believe he was the mouse and not the cat; therefore, he was not inclined toward a pleasant demeanor in any shape or form, and most especially not to the young woman who had presented herself at his door this afternoon and demanded an audience with him. His head pounded from both lack of sleep and frustration, and the last thing he wanted to do was deal with unwanted company. However, every caller might have some clue to the imposter, so he was obliged to see each and every one of them. Though today, he was determined to see this visitor dispatched with all haste.

The female in question awaited him in the blue parlor, and when he walked into that room, his first thought was that she did not look like a woman of questionable morals, which was his natural reaction to any unwed young miss who presented herself uninvited at a gentleman’s home. She sat primly and quietly on the edge of a settee, her gray dress serviceable yet out of date. Dark hair peeked from beneath a simple straw bonnet, which was all he could see of her as she stared down at the gloved hands folded in her lap.

Impoverished gentility, he thought. Another one of Father’s by-blows, no doubt.

“I am Wyldehaven,” he announced as he made his entrance. “And you are…?”

She gave a start and got to her feet, immediately dipping a curtsey. “My name is Miranda Fontaine.”

He frowned, the name plucking a familiar chord in his mind. “What is your business here, Miss Fontaine?”

She had to tilt her head to look up at him. A lovely face, somewhat unusual with sloping cheekbones and full, pouting lips that made a man think of anything but church on Sundays. Her eyes were green and slightly slanted, like a cat’s. She furrowed her lovely brow at him, no doubt in response to his curt tone.

He hoped like hell she wasn’t his half-sister.

“I wrote to you, Your Grace, on a matter of some urgency.”

“Wrote to me.” Damn and blast, where had he heard her name? He waved a hand at the settee, and she sat down again, though he remained standing. “What was this matter of urgency?”

“The matter of your son.”

Recollection snapped into place. He had shoved the memory of the letter aside, assuming the matter was closed. “As I recall, Miss Fontaine, I replied to your missive. I am not the father.”

Her lip curled with a cynicism that surprised him. “A common refrain.”

He stiffened. “I am not in the habit of denying my own actions, Miss Fontaine, but in this case you are mistaken.”

“I do not believe I am, Your Grace.”

Impudent chit. He slid an admiring glance down her fine, feminine form and had the satisfaction of seeing her fingers clench in reaction. “I would certainly recall a liaison with you, dear lady.”

She glared at him, all fire and indignation. For an instant he regretted that he hadn’t been the one to get her with child. Did she bring such passion to the boudoir? Would the sheets be singed after their coupling?

Dear God, how long had it been since he had even noticed a woman?

“I am not the child’s mother, as you well know,” she snapped. “His mother was Lettie Dupree. Now do you recall?”

“I am not acquainted with Miss Dupree,” he said with a shrug, still distracted by her curves. By God, this was a woman made for bedding. His wife had been gone for nearly two years, and no female had attracted his attention in all that time—until now. Then the guilt of Felicity’s memory made him frown. “If you are not the mother, why is it that you are here but she is not?”

“Lettie died in childbed.”

Her voice caught, just a wisp, but her defiant stare never wavered. A hint of sympathy tempered his growing lust, and he met her eyes with all sincerity. “My condolences, Miss Fontaine.”

She gave a cool nod. “Thank you, Your Grace.” She took a breath, as if to compose herself. “Given that he is now motherless, I have come to discuss your son’s welfare with you.”

He gave a harsh laugh, compassion collapsing beneath reluctant admiration. “I have twice denied that the child is mine, Miss Fontaine. Perhaps you were not paying attention.”

“Lettie’s dying wish was that her son would be raised as a gentleman. Educated as befitting his station as the son of a duke.”

“Miss Fontaine, I admire your tenacity. However, your ruthless determination to brand me a liar is beginning to wear thin. Pay close attention.” He came to stand over her, locking his gaze with hers. “I am not this child’s father.”

Slowly she stood. He did not move, but she did not fall back on the settee as he expected. Instead she straightened her small frame, her head only reaching his shoulder, until she stood practically in his arms, mere inches separating them. “It has been my experience that most men of power do not accept the consequences of their actions. I had hoped you would be different, Your Grace.”

Her words burned like salt rubbed in the wounds of his heart. Who was this mouthy chit to be ordering him about? Why did she come here, to his house, to remind him of all he had lost, all he had left to lose?

“I regret I must disappoint you. Good day, Miss Fontaine. Travers will escort you out.”

He turned away from her and left the room without a backward glance.

Bloody hell, but he was going back to bed.


Copyright © 2009 Debra Mullins
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