Award-winning author Jillian Hunter spins a captivating new tale of sweet mystery, reckless temptation, and scandalous desire.
Adrian Ruxley may be a ruggedly charming rogue, but he's not a man to stand idly by while a lady is accosted-even at a wedding organized by the lady herself, Emma Boscastle, instructress in the social graces at her London academy for young gentlewomen. Adrian confronts the offender, a scuffle ensues, and now this smooth-talking heir is left to recuperate under Emma's very roof, delighted to see the deep concern in her lovely face. She has a charm no scoundrel can resist.
Emma is scandalized by her own behavior-seduced by a handsome stranger, indeed! How will she be able to hide her indiscretion from the perceptive Boscastle siblings? The divine passion that Adrian has unleashed, and the sensual delights he has shown her, have suddenly turned Emma's days at the fledgling academy into a display of impropriety and her nights into a velvet abyss of sensual abandon. But as their intimacy reveals Adrian's turbulent secrets, Emma is inspired to her most ambitious endeavor: redeeming a rake.
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July 29, 2007
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Excerpt from The Devilish Pleasures of a Duke by Jillian Hunter
There was a wolf at the wedding.
Emma Boscastle, the widowed Viscountess Lyons, was not sure whether it had been a guest or one of the maidservants who had whispered the unsettling observation in passing during the wedding reception. At first she thought nothing of it. The remark could have referred to one of their host's large hunting dogs or merely to a ravenous guest.
A lady did not lessen herself by a listening to idle gossip. By profession she was obligated to set an example to others and not to indulge her prurient curiosities. This was, after all, the wedding of one of her former students, held in the Portman Square home of the bride's in-laws, not a common countryside assembly.
Several minutes into the nuptial breakfast, however, the remark took on a more intriguing design. She'd just decided that the handsome gentleman standing across the room had an appealing air of the disreputable about him. Which would explain why she could not resist staring at him and why she ought to stop. Sadly enough, the fact that he was accompanied by three of her own brothers, Lords Heath, Drake, and Devon Boscastle, only enhanced his dangerous aura. He was probably a person to be avoided. Heaven knows she would have avoided her own family if she were not related and therefore obligated to offer them guidance.
Her suspicions about the attractive stranger were only confirmed after the champagne toast when he turned suddenly and smiled at her over the top of the wedding cake. She returned his roguish smile before she knew what she was doing. His perceptive hazel eyes positively twinkled with mischief.
Did she know him? Surely she'd remember a man with his commanding presence unless he had never been presented to her in polite company. One had to admit he pleased the eye with his dark, wheat-blond hair, chiseled features, and broad-shouldered frame.
She hazarded another thoughtful glance at his angular profile. He exuded the restless energy of a wolf in gentleman's attire--A shock of realization went down her arms. It couldn't be. Her brothers had not brought the notorious Adrian Ruxley, Viscount Wolverton, to Miss Marshall's wedding.
A wolf at the wedding. The scandalmongers referred to him as a professional mercenary. If one believed the worst, he was a soldier of fortune who'd turned his back on his aristocratic upbringing to spite his father and had chosen to fight pirates in foreign lands.
Emma's younger sister Chloe, admittedly not the most unbiased of witnesses, claimed that Lord Wolverton was misunderstood, a valiant rogue and loyal friend to his select circle of friends. Emma suspected that the truth lay somewhere in the middle of these differing opinions.
Would her brothers have dared to invite such a disputatious person to a wedding?
Of course they would. The dear scoundrels might be settling into their respective marriages, but they were still possessed of the scandalous Boscastle spirit. Honestly, nothing was sacred in this family. Her siblings picked the most controversial of companions, men and women that proper Society scorned. In fact, Emma had been so afraid that one of her brothers would embarrass her that she'd missed half the ceremony keeping an eye on the three of them.
Still, the wedding had gone off like a dream; despite the bride's repeated avowals of gratitude toward her mentor, Emma had modestly refused to acknowledge the role she had played in making this a memorable event.
She was a woman who cherished tradition. Observance of formality almost enabled one to forget the vulgarities that existed outside the polite world.