A Duchess’ Irresistible Tutor (Preview)

Chapter One

Oxford 1820 

The grounds of Christ Church, Oxford University, were one of Lady Daisy Lockhart’s favourite places to visit. It wasn’t just because the manicured lawns, well-maintained flowerbeds, and finely pruned trees invited a variety of colourful and beautiful bugs, butterflies, and other wildlife. It was because she was able to sit upon the marble benches beneath the open windows of the classrooms and simply listen. Daisy loved to listen. She would close her eyes, breathe in the deep scent of flowers and pollen and listen to the rhythmic tone of the professors as they talked on mathematics, science, biology, language, and so much more. 

It was there she sat, her face upturned to the sun with her eyes closed, imagining she wasn’t sitting on a bench below the window but instead in one of the seats inside the classroom, listening more intently than any of the male students who she could often hear nattering in hushed voices whenever there was a lull in the lecture. Some of the time, it infuriated Daisy. Some of the time, she wanted to run in there and demand that the men be more respectful of their professor, more grateful that they were given such a magnificent opportunity to learn. It was an opportunity that Daisy might well have killed for. 

At least today, the students seemed to be interested in the lecture, and Daisy didn’t have to strain to listen over their whispers and fidgeting. The professor was speaking clearly, and she was so intent on his chemistry lecture that she barely heard the sound of someone clearing their throat close by. At first, she believed it was one of the male students close to the window above her head. 

“Daisy Elizabeth Lockhart!” 

The sound of her name caused her to jump so violently that her eyes flashed open, and she whipped around to find her father standing with his arms crossed over his chest. At two-and-fifty years old, the Duke of Balfour was still quite a handsome man, though his dark hair had been shot through with streaks of white, and patches of his close-cropped facial hair were becoming silver. He was a stern man with an almost constant scowl, though the moments he looked at his daughter, he smiled as though she was the only one who could make him do so. 

“Father!” she exclaimed, jumping to her feet and dropping into a low curtsey, all too aware of the two male students crossing the lawn close by, eyeing them both as if they were well aware of what was happening. Although she did not know their names, they, like many of the men at Oxford University, had caught her while being scolded by her father for being somewhat of a lurker on the grounds. 

Cheeks burning red with embarrassment, Daisy forced herself to meet their gazes for a moment before she turned to smile at her father. “Papa, you startled me.” 

“I am not surprised to hear so.” Her father sighed. “You were quite intent on today’s lecture.” 

The heat in Daisy’s cheeks grew hotter still, and she felt it streaming down into her neck and chest. Though she was so often caught doing so, she was well aware of her father’s thoughts on the matter, not to mention every other member of the ton who was all too quick to look down on any woman who wished to have a proper education. 

“Papa, I …” Daisy opened her mouth to protest, seeing the look of distaste upon his face. He quickly uncrossed his arms and lifted one hand to cut her off. 

“I know, I know. You have learned all you can about being a lady and now wish to have a proper education,” he explained, speaking as though he had heard the words over and over before. “I am well aware of what you want, but I am sure you are also aware that it is simply not done. These are not the actions of a lady, Daisy.” 

Yet another couple of students wandered past, and from how they looked over their shoulders with pursed lips and amusement in their gazes, Daisy knew they were judging her situation quite humorous. Perhaps if she had been a few years younger, she might have snapped at them to stop staring and mind their own business, maybe even stuck her tongue out at them or even shook a fist in their direction, but she was well aware of her father watching her. That would be even more unladylike and undignified, she reminded herself, fighting the urge with her fists clenched in the folds of her skirt so that her father would not see. 

“How did you even manage to sneak out this time?” her father demanded. “Which maid helped you?” 

Daisy stared back at her father, both of them knowing that she wasn’t likely to tell him. Nor would she ever admit to him that she had managed to climb down the trellis outside her bedroom window. It was such a beautiful decoration on the house, and she couldn’t think of how awful it would be if he had it removed. 

“None, Papa,” she said sweetly. 

She opened her mouth again to speak, hoping that she might be able to persuade her father to let her stay just until the end of the lecture, but her father turned slightly and gestured down the pathway. It was a gesture that her father had made so often she need not even follow his hand to know he was pointing her towards his carriage parked at the very far end of the gravel driveway. 

With a raised eyebrow, he watched her silently, his lips pursed as though he was fighting the urge to openly scold her with so many other eyes about to see them. Daisy bit back the urge to protest, and with her head hung in disappointment, she began to follow her father down the driveway. 

“My Lady.” Her father’s usual driver greeted her with a tip of his black top hat and climbed down from his driver’s bench to open the carriage door for her. Daisy would have liked her father to have been in the open-top carriage on such a beautiful day. Maybe then she wouldn’t feel so claustrophobic. It was not to be, and the driver helped her up the steps into the carriage, where she had to duck her head so as not to hit it on the roof. Though spacious, the carriage felt small and enclosing, and Daisy had to fight the urge to jump right back out and race back to her bench to listen to the end of the lecture. 

Instead, she sat silently, staring out the carriage window at the manicured lawns as her father climbed in and sat on the bench opposite her. Neither of them spoke or made a sound until the driver clicked the door closed behind them and the carriage rocked to signal that he had climbed back onto the driver’s bench. 

“Sweetheart, I thought we had agreed that you would give up this unseemly behaviour?” her father asked when the carriage began to move. Daisy closed her eyes for a moment, sucking in a deep breath and listening to the rhythmic sound of the horse’s hooves clicking on the ground in an attempt to calm herself before she responded. 

“What is so unseemly about it, Papa?” 

When she opened her eyes again, she saw that her father’s face had grown red with frustration. His lips had all but disappeared in his attempt to hold back from snapping at her. 

“Daisy, what might happen if a member of the ton were to recognise you? What might happen if you were to be seen as a willful, rebellious young lady?” her father demanded. “You are the daughter of a duke. You cannot go sneaking out before dawn to frolic alone at the university to listen to lectures you have no business listening to! You are just lucky I was needed for a meeting here today; otherwise, your visit would look entirely suspicious!” 

His tone and volume grew harder and louder with every word he spoke. His hands tightened into fists upon his lap, and Daisy could see his cheeks puffing as though he was trying his absolute hardest not to yell at her at the top of his lungs. 

“Papa, it is not as if I was sneaking out to meet a boy,” Daisy insisted, allowing the corners of her lips to twitch upwards, hoping that her humour might ease her father’s temper slightly. From the look on his face, he was most unimpressed, and Daisy bit the inside of her lip, partly wishing she could take the words back. 

His fury was palpable, and he glared at her with such vexation that she wished she could shrink and disappear into the very wall of the carriage, though she refused to show her fear, not even to her father, the man she had loved for her entire life because he had always taught her to be strong and stand up for herself. He was the one person she was fearful of upsetting, of disappointing, and yet on this matter, she just couldn’t deny herself the opportunity whenever it presented itself. 

“What is worse,” her father continued once he had clearly decided to skirt over her last comment. “You were unchaperoned! Just imagine what might have happened to you. Imagine if I had not known where you were and something awful had happened. You could have ended up anywhere, and I would never have known!” 

Daisy struggled against the strong urge to roll her eyes, knowing that her father absolutely abhorred the gesture. Instead, she snorted and scoffed. “It is unfair that women should not be afforded the same opportunity for education as men!” 

Already, she knew what was coming, but she did not allow her father to begin his scolding quite yet. Instead, she quickly added, “Papa, I so wish to go to school. Is that so much to ask?” 

The duke’s first reaction was to huff, long and hard before inhaling deeply, and Daisy braced herself once more. She already knew well what was coming. 

“Daisy, need I remind you that although I am a duke, I cannot change the law!” he stated, his tone suggesting how frustrated he was with her. He cannot be nearly as frustrated as I am! Daisy insisted to herself. Her own frustration had been growing and growing daily ever since she had been a child. She still remembered the day it had begun to grow when she was a mere nine years old and had first expressed her wishes to one day go to school just as she had heard so many others talking about. At the time, she had been unaware or even oblivious to the fact that it had only ever been young boys and men who spoke of such things. To her, it had been normal; to her, she was more than capable of doing anything that any boy or man could do because that was practically the way her father had raised her. She had not been scared to get her hands dirty or even climb a tree to save a cat who had got stuck in the lower branches. Yet she had seen the look on her father’s face when she expressed a wish to go to school that first time. She remembered it every time she closed her eyes, how his face had fallen, and he had pursed his lips and slowly shook his head before announcing that it was simply something she could not accomplish. 

“It is a stupid law!” Daisy announced just as she always did, and the duke’s face fell further. 

“Sweetheart, how many times must I remind you? Just because you think something is stupid does not make it so? We have laws for a reason,” her father reminded her, and Daisy felt her anger growing like a deep seed in her stomach. It heated her veins and made her hands itch to tighten into fists once more. She bit the inside of her lip and lifted a hand to stroke a stray strand of strawberry blonde hair from her face. “If everyone ignored the rules, there would be anarchy.” 

“Would it be so bad to allow women a proper education?” Daisy asked, her frustration only growing with every word from her father’s lips. “What exactly do you believe will happen? Will we somehow take over the world? Goodness forbid that a woman should be able to speak her own mind and have her own education rather than relying on her husband!” 

“Daisy Elizabeth Lockhart! Enough with this lunacy! You are well aware of the rules, and you are in direct violation of them every time you set foot on Oxford University grounds!” her father snapped back at her. Though Daisy wasn’t sure that his words were entirely true, she decided it was best not to test him on it directly. 

Instead, she responded, “Would you have prevented Mother from listening to the lectures if she had been so taken to do so?” 

A flash of pain shot through her father’s brown gaze, so much like her own, and she instantly regretted the words said in anger. A pang pierced her heart, and she gritted her teeth, preparing for her father’s reaction. 

He did not act as she had expected him to. He did not grow angry or yell at her further. Instead, he hung his head and sighed deeply, only making her feel even worse. If he had yelled at her, she would have accepted it, but she could feel the pain coming off him in waves at the mention of his late wife, and Daisy’s stomach twisted into an agonising knot. 

“Papa, I …” she began apologizing, but her father quickly lifted his hand to cut her off with a shake of his head. At that very moment, the carriage drew to a halt, and Daisy realised they had pulled up right outside the front door of her father’s townhouse. Holding her breath, she waited for what she knew was coming. 

“I think you ought to go up to your room and think on what you have done,” her father insisted through gritted teeth. He did not meet her gaze, which made Daisy feel even worse about what she said. She half opened her mouth to offer another apology but seeing the grim expression on her father’s face, she quickly pursed her lips once more and dipped her head to him instead. 

I’m sorry, Papa, she thought silently, hoping he would understand how badly she felt for ever having said such a thing. Yet, at the age of twenty and one, being told to go up to her room, she felt like a scolded child and found herself glaring at her father in silent rage for several moments. Finally deciding it was better to brood in silence than say something else she might regret, she threw herself from the carriage the moment the driver opened the door. 

Her father’s butler, having obviously been awaiting them, only just managed to open the house’s front door before she stormed inside. 

“Lady Daisy,” the butler greeted her respectfully with a bow, though she ignored him, too fuming to bother with the niceties. She could already hear her stepmother tutting, offering some infuriating words to her father as he entered the house behind her. 

“Daisy Lockhart, it is most unbecoming to stomp up the stairs like an elephant!” her father called after her, obviously eddied on by his new wife. Would you have bothered to say such a thing if she were Mother? Daisy asked herself, wondering whether maybe her mother might have been the one to comment instead. Imagining that her mother had calmly told her to ease off on her father, she stopped her stomping and continued to her room, holding back the tears that threatened every time she imagined what things might have been like if her mother hadn’t died. 

It would not change the fact that she was unable to go to school; she was no fool in thinking that, but perhaps if her mother had still been around, she might have been able to encourage her father to give her some kind of education other than needlework and reading romance novels and practising her airs and graces. When she thought of walking up and down the parlour with a book atop her head, trying not to let it fall, her neck began to ache. It had been a long time since then, and yet it still made her feel nauseous whenever she thought of all the spinning and steps she’d had to master for every dance performed at the balls she was to attend as a young debutant and new arrival among the ton. She was glad those days were long gone, and she had managed to half-melt into society, overshadowed by the newer and younger girls who were entering into society every year, and yet now she found herself bored. She was regularly invited for tea, luncheon, or even dinner at this noble’s or that, along with her father, his wife, and her stepsister, and yet it was not nearly enough to occupy her thoughts and keep her out of trouble. 

The moment she entered the safety of her room, she kicked off her slippered shoes and threw herself down onto her bed. The cushions welcomed her, enveloping her in their softness, and she closed her eyes to breathe out a deep and calming sigh. She knew all too well that her father and his wife would be talking about her, about how rebellious and mischievous she was, and how much of a bad influence she was to her younger stepsister, Bertha Lockhart. Yet there was nothing she could do to change her inquisitive and rebellious nature. She had tried, truly she had, and yet nothing seemed to be able to stop her longing, her urge to know more about the world and soak up all the knowledge she could before she lost the chance to do so forever. 

Lady Balfour, her stepmother, would find a way to end her rebellion sooner or later, she was sure of it, but until then, she would do all she could to keep her freedom. I won’t let her win, Mama, she thought, rolling over to look at the portrait of her mother that hung above her bed. It was the only painting of her mother left, the only one she had managed to save from her stepmother’s rummage when she had first become Lady Balfour and had insisted upon redecorating every one of her husband’s residences so that it could become her own. I won’t let any of them change me. 

Chapter 2

Philip Radcliff, second son to the Earl of Elgin, ought to have been listening to his professor drone on and on about the inner workings of the heart; he ought to be copying down the equations and studying them as all the other dutiful students around him were, but instead, he found himself gazing out of the floor to ceiling window. He was not taken by the glossy green lawns or the bees buzzing about the flowers sitting in the window pot. Instead, he was gazing at a young woman.

He had often seen her on the grounds of Oxford University, mainly watching her from open windows as she sat upon the marble benches or even walking the gardens alone. There was something odd about her, something oddly fascinating, and whenever he looked out of a window and found the benches empty, he was sorely disappointed not to find her there. 

She was a beautiful woman with long flowing strawberry blonde locks that she always wore plaited or pinned up though even ribbons and pins seemed unable to entirely tame her curls, and several of them often fell around her heart-shaped face. Though they had never had the pleasure of meeting, and he only ever admired her from a distance, he could tell her eyes were dark and intense. Once, he had looked long enough to see a glimpse of them, though he had quickly looked away, fearful that she might believe him to be inappropriate for staring. If he had to admit it, he might well believe himself to be inappropriate, though whenever he saw her, he could not stop doing so. 

Who are you? What are you doing here? he often wondered, wishing he could ask her the questions directly. From her gowns, the golden thread holding them together, and the gemstones that often decorated her hair, he was sure she had to be a lady, though he couldn’t imagine why any lady would find herself so often visiting the grounds of a university. Yet whenever he saw her, she appeared content, smiling as though she merely enjoyed being.

Today, Philip would have much preferred to be sitting upon that bench with her, speaking to her about anything and everything rather than listening to his professor prattle on. He couldn’t even hear what the man was saying anymore. In fact, everything else around him seemed to melt away the longer he stared out the window. 

“Mr Radcliffe … Mr Radcliffe, are we disturbing you?” He barely heard the professor’s words. “Mr Radcliffe … Mr Radcliffe!”

It wasn’t until Philip heard the snickering of several other students close by that he finally took note that the entire class was staring at him.

“Mr Radcliffe, please can you enlighten the class on what I was just saying,” the professor suggested, looking at Philip with a raised eyebrow over the rim of his wire-framed spectacles. 

“I umm …” Philip stammered. Forcing his gaze away from the window, he met the professor’s gaze, unable to recall a single word that the grey-haired man had uttered during his time in the classroom. Out the corner of his eye, he saw movement across the courtyard outside the window and his chest tightened at the thought that the young lady would once more be gone before he could exit the classroom to speak with her. A part of him longed to introduce himself, to merely ask the questions that had been pervading his mind since the first time he spotted her on the grounds. Yet she was always gone before he could do so. Whenever he rushed from the building, he would find whichever bench she had been seated on empty, not a single sign of her anywhere. She was a ghost, a beautiful and mesmerising apparition that left him unable to think of anything else throughout his time at school. At twenty-seven, he should have known better than to spend his time thinking on such mundane things as a woman sitting upon a bench; he ought to have been concentrating on his education, and yet here he was utterly speechless in the face of his professor and the rest of his class.

With some embarrassment, he admitted, “I am afraid I am unable, sir.” 

The professor’s expression darkened, and he crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at Philip almost as if he were the man’s father. Philip was only glad that he was not. If he had been, he might well have had his hide tanned. Even at almost thirty years of age, he was no stranger to feeling his father’s boot. He could only imagine the kind of scolding he would receive if his father were to learn of his ignorance in class. 

“Mr Radcliffe, do you truly wish to be here?” the professor asked. Although Philip opened his mouth to respond, the professor continued before he could, “Because I am sure there are many others who would jump at the chance to take your place. Perhaps I should walk down to the gates and see if there is a beggar who would like to take your place?” 

Philip pursed his lips against the urge to snap a sharp retort. As the second son of an earl, he was well within his rights to remind the man of his father’s kind donations to the university over the years, and yet he could not bring himself to do so. He would not be like the other pompous and entitled noblemen in his class, those who believed they were above the gentlemen and merchants’ sons among them. 

“I do wish to be here, sir,” he said instead, nodding and refraining from meeting the man’s eye, hoping he would return to his lecture.

At that moment, the raucous sound of the bells ringing throughout the university caused every class member to jump in shock. A single glance at the clock hanging above the doorway told him it was the end of this particular class, though not a single member dared to move, clearly anticipating that the professor would have more to say on the subject.

“Then perhaps tomorrow you will give me the courtesy of listening to what I have to teach you.” The professor snarled, glaring at Philip for a moment longer. It wasn’t until several of the young men in the class began to murmur among themselves that the professor finally gave a silent gesture of his hand to dismiss them all. He continued to glare at Philip as all the young men collected their things and began to make their way from the classroom.

Philip remained in his seat until almost the last person had left the room. He met the professor’s eyes again, seeing that he hadn’t budged an inch, and didn’t dare stand up from his seat until the man finally nodded. 

He was halfway to the door when the professor called him back. “Mr Radcliffe, mark my words. You may be an earl’s son, but that does not excuse your behaviour.”

Philip paused at the door and looked back over his shoulder with a nod. “Yes, sir, I understand.” 

It was better merely to agree than risk the professor sending word to his father that his teaching was not going well. His elder brother would likely love to rub it in his face if he were to get a scolding from the earl. 

“Hey, Pip!”

The moment he exited the classroom, he was accosted by his oldest and truest friends. Edward and Stanley Sherman were the sons of a wealthy Oxford businessman, and although they did not have a noble title, they were just as entitled to education as the rest of them, just as content and happy in the knowledge that their lives were laid out before them from school to what they would do for the rest of their days on Earth. 

Edward clapped Philip on the shoulder as Stanley demanded to know, “What was that all about in there?” 

Philip locked gazes with the blond-haired, blue-eyed eldest brother and thought quickly on how to answer, knowing that he couldn’t exactly admit he had been distracted once again by the mysterious strawberry blonde who so often sat outside their classroom window. 

“It is such a beautiful day.” Philip shrugged. “It is infuriating being stuck in a classroom.” 

Sitting beside Lady Mysterious or even walking through the gardens at her side would be a fine thing indeed, The thought quickly popped into his mind, and he struggled to remove it. 

Both Edward and Stanley scoffed with laughter and nodded in agreement. “And that is exactly why we are headed to the club as soon as the last bell rings. Won’t you join us?” 

Philip longed to decline. He was in no mood for drinking and gambling and likely talking business with the older nobles at whichever gentlemen’s club they had decided upon visiting. Yet he could tell from the stern look on both his friends’ faces that declining wasn’t an option. 

With a deep sigh, he gave a curt nod, and both his friends cheered in excitement. “I promise you won’t regret it!” Stanley insisted, placing a hand on the shoulder that his brother wasn’t already gripping. They both squeezed his shoulders reassuringly before beginning to shove him down the corridor towards their next class. 

“Come on, you have already upset Professor Pettigrew.” Stanley chuckled. “You had better not do the same with Professor Dormer, or they’ll surely send a letter home.” 

“Yes, heaven forbid we should have a repeat of last year!” Edward added with a roll of his eyes, and Philip cringed at the reminder of the letter sent home about him just before Christmas the previous year. His father had been most disappointed to hear about his lack of interest in class and his constant idiotic questions, questions that Philip believed were only idiotic because the professors did not like to be stopped mid-lecture to be tested on their own knowledge. 

He had taken to being quiet in class, merely being silent instead of testing the professors, not wishing to infuriate his father further by becoming the rebellious son. 

“I blame the two of you!” he insisted, trying his hardest to forget all about the beautiful blonde and his desire to meet her. Perhaps one day I shall be lucky enough to stumble upon her sitting upon her marble bench, he thought hopefully.

“A Duchess’ Irresistible Tutor” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Despite her rebellious nature, Lady Daisy Lockhart cannot achieve what she truly wants, even as the daughter of a Duke; the opportunity to study at Oxford University. Having been caught several times listening to lectures within the Oxford grounds, the Duke sees he has no other option but to try one last time with a promising home tutor. Will an aspiring student have better luck satisfying the untamed Daisy than his predecessors?

When two like-minded individuals meet, ideas will not be the only thing exchanged…

In contrast to his father’s wishes, Philip Radcliffe decided to study medicine instead of becoming the heir to the Earldom of Elgin. Although utterly focused on becoming a good doctor, his attention will soon be diverted by a seductive woman outside his classroom. When Philip’s father announces that he will tutor the daughter of a close friend, the last person he expects to meet is the woman whose presence awakens his deepest desires.

As Philip begins his lustful journey, his only concern is to remain professional…

Philip and Daisy know they are playing dangerously close to the flames. In the midst of exploring their feelings, sinister forces will attempt to separate them once and for all. Will their burning passion be enough to give their romance a chance to flourish or will their irresistible attraction destroy them?

“A Duchess’ Irresistible Tutor” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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