Wanted: Governess able to keep all hours…
Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified-to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation … without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.
Desired: Duke skilled in the seductive art of conversation…
Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn’t seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke’s relatives is responsible for the death of her family-and take her revenge. She certainly can’t afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her.
But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she’s faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she’s sworn to kill?
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Julia set aside her glass, arranged her modish green skirts about her, positioned her hands to display their fine-boned elegance, and looked about the room, the ends of her mouth upturned into a bewitching smile.
“It’s a very grand house you have come into, Julian,” she said with a satisfied air. “To be sure, it could use a fresh coat of paint and a skilled needlewoman.” She poked at a hole in the French carpet with a dainty silk-slippered toe. “Whoever would have thought you’d end up as Denford? Look at you,” she said, as he stood before the massive fireplace of Italian marble. “Monarch of all you survey. I always knew you were bound for greatness.”
“I’d be flattered if I wasn’t a clear case of a man who’s had greatness thrust upon him.”
It had taken the death of every male heir and a plague of female children to bring Julian, a distant cousin of the previous duke, into the title. Mothers, widows, aunts, and daughters of assorted deceased Fortescues had protested heartily at this manifest injustice, as had their non-Fortescue husbands and sons. There was nothing they could do about the laws of primogeniture when it came to the dukedom, but they could and did object to the despised and disreputable Julian making off with the family fortune. Lawyers had been engaged. Many, many lawyers.
“Do you have enough money to live here?”
“As of yesterday, I do. After interminable wrangling over one hundred years of trusts and entails, my quarrelsome cousins realized that there’s plenty for everyone if they discharged the bloodsuckers. We came to a grand settlement. As well as this house and Denford Castle, I am now owner of twenty thousand acres of land and a nice sum in the funds to boot.”
Julia arched her fine eyebrows and laughed. “Thank the Lord your father isn’t alive. He’d have hated to be duke.”
True. Fitzlyon Fortescue had possessed wit and charm in plenty but not an iota of greed and absolutely no sense of responsibility, the reason he had died leaving his young widow and son virtually penniless.
“Would you have enjoyed being a duchess?”
“Tush! What good would it do me to have the right to sit on a footstool in the presence of the King of France? The poor man is dead.”
“I could be wrong, knowing little about the habits of dukes and nothing at all about their wives, but I believe that’s only for French duchesses. Wouldn’t you like to have been Your Grace? You’re certainly dressed elegantly enough.”
“Why, thank you. I do my poor best.”
“It’s less than a year since Mr. Osbourne died but you aren’t in mourning.”
“I never wore black for your father either. My dear Lyon would never have expected it.”
“You also married Mr. Osbourne three months later.”
“You know I had to,” she said with a reproachful look that would have chastened anyone less hardened to shame than Julian. “I couldn’t let us starve.”
About the Author
MIRANDA NEVILLE grew up in England before moving to New York City to work in Sotheby’s rare books department. After many years as a journalist and editor, she decided writing fiction was more fun. She lives in Vermont. She loves hearing from readers and may be reached through her website.
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