Lady Louisa longs to marry for passion and love.
Dukes gone wild!
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October 31, 2006
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Excerpt from A Duke of Her Own by Lorraine Heath
Gentlewoman of noble birth offers to chaperone genteel American lady in need of social guidance. References provided. Send inquiry to the attention of Lady Louisa Wentworth, in care of this publication.
The Lady's Quarterly Review
"What in the devil is this?"
Lady Louisa Wentworth jerked her head back slightly to avoid having her nose bruised by the publication her brother was flapping furiously in front of her face. She'd been enjoying her usual breakfast of porridge laced with butter, milk, and an abundance of sugar before he'd come storming into the morning dining room as though he were some avenging angel. Delicately pressing her linen napkin to each corner of her mouth, she summoned up every ounce of fortitude within her in order to confront his belligerence with serenity.
"It appears to be a magazine," she said.
"Not this!" he shouted, frantically jerking the periodical up and down, before slamming it on the table. He pressed a blunt-tipped finger beneath a particular block of words. "This!"
Glancing at the familiar phrasing, she took a calming breath. "My advert."
"Your advert," he repeated with an unnatural calm that caused a frisson of unease to travel the length of her spine. Then he quite simply erupted in anger. "Your advert! You're advertising for a position as a chaperone?"
"Yes, and I have an interview later this morning, so I would appreciate it if you'd cease your shouting so my digestion is not unduly upset."
"You are not taking a position as a chaperone. I absolutely forbid it."
Her stomach tightened into a painful knot. Having made her decision after much agonizing, carefully scrutinizing her options, weighing the benefits against the disadvantages, and accepting the enormous consequences that would ensue after effectively changing the direction of her life, she wasn't about to allow him--or anyone else for that matter--to deter or forbid her from seeing her plan through to the finish.
"I'm twenty-six years old, Alex, old enough to do as I please. Serving as a chaperone is a respectable position for the daughter of a peer--"
"Unmarried ladies younger than thirty require a chaperone. How in God's name can you be a chaperone when you need a chaperone?"
Shoving back the chair, she came to her feet, tossed the linen napkin into her bowl of porridge, and steadfastly met her brother's blistering blue glare. She wondered if her blue eyes darkened as much as his did when challenged.
"A lady requires that her reputation remain pristine when there is some chance in hell that a gentleman will seek her hand in marriage. No gentleman is going to ask for my hand, and you damned well know it." His jaw had dropped at her first bit of profanity; his eyes had bulged at her second. "I have no dowry at all. It is time that I face reality, that you face reality. We have nothing of value--"
"We have ourselves."
"Then allow me to rephrase and be perfectly clear. You have value; you have a blasted title. I have nothing. No dowry, no property, no hope of ever enticing a man into looking past my impoverished state--"