A Lustful Duke’s Valentine Card (Preview)

Chapter One

February 1804

“You know, City, you really ought to smile more.” 

Felicity cringed. Not only did she hate when her older sister called her that, but she also hated being told what to do. Especially by a woman who was only a year and a half older than she was. It didn’t matter that Phoebe was older, pretty and all-around, more attractive‌. She didn’t constantly need to be giving out advice. But that was all she ever seemed to do recently. And it was really beginning to get on Felicity’s pip. 

But with their father sitting close by in the carriage, there was little that she could do without upsetting the both of them, and she had long since learned that it was easier just to go along with whatever her sister said. So she forced a smile onto her face, making sure to show her. 

“Oh, come on, now you are just trying too hard,” Phoebe insisted, and Felicity stifled a groan. No matter what she did, she couldn’t please everybody, especially her sister, who had to be perfect all the time. “You know,  your first Season would have gone much better if you had just followed my advice.” 

Felicity scowled back at that because she had followed everything her sister said to a fault. The problem was that she did not have the same elegant good looks or charming manners as her sister. So, everything she did came across as clumsy or foolish. 

“Can I not just be myself and hope that it attracts a suitor?” Felicity protested, glancing in her father’s direction for a little help. Yet she found none and it was clear from the way he was gazing out of the window that he was barely listening to their conversation at all. No, this is a conversation for the women, Felicity thought grimly, knowing that if her mother had been around, she would have dealt with it. Phoebe had always been all too willing to step into their mother’s shoes, scolding and reprimanding wherever she got the chance, flexing her will as was the right of the eldest sibling in the family. 

Felicity only wished that their younger brother was with them. Maybe then she might not have found herself quite so put upon by her sister. Maybe the ten-year-old Teddy might have distracted her with his grossness, as she liked to call it. Felicity stifled laughter at the thought that perhaps he might even deem himself bored enough to pick his nose or something, a gesture that Phoebe absolutely abhorred while Felicity could not help but find amusement in their bickering over the matter. 

“What is so funny?” Phoebe demanded, crossing her arms over her chest. The gesture caused her thick fur cloak to bunch up around her neck. Felicity couldn’t help but think how much she looked like the poodle they had once had when they were children, especially with her golden blonde hair all trussed up in tight ringlets. “This really is no laughing matter. You really ought to find a little more charm for your suitors.” 

“We cannot all be as charming as you, dear sister,” Felicity sighed, knowing that her compliment was an easy stroke to her sister’s ego, which would hopefully settle her down a little. Yet, still, Phoebe furrowed her brow at her.  

“Yes, well, be that as it may,” the golden-haired angel rolled her eyes and unfolded her arms, reaching over from where she sat beside their father so that she could brush a dark blonde strand of hair back from Felicity’s face. Compared to her sister’s, Felicity’s hair was naturally wavy, and she did not like to pin it too high or with too many gemstone pins. She preferred simplicity, and her sister adored grandeur. “It is the weekend before Valentine’s Day and as things stand, you will not have single suitor to send a card.” 

There are worse things in the world, Felicity thought even as she forced another smile for Phoebe and said mockingly, “Oh, I can think of nothing worse.” 

Phoebe, looking quite disgruntled, shook her head and hissed, “What would mother say if she were here?” 

Felicity flinched at the mention of their mother, who had died ten years earlier, giving birth to their beloved Teddy. 

“Yes, well, she isn’t here,” Felicity responded, straightening her back and looking her sister in the eye. Neither of them needed reminding of that fact. 

As though he had been listening all along, their father, the earl of Beacham, finally looked at them both and stated, “That’s enough. We are pulling up to the Leicesters, and I would not have the two of you bickering when we arrive.” 

Both girls gave their father an apologetic expression. Felicity hated seeing the grief that still lingered on their father’s face at any mention of their dearly departed mother, and so the moment he looked away, she gave Phoebe a warning glare. 

Her sister seemed to ignore her, choosing instead to tug on her pale pink silk gloves to ensure that they were in the perfect position, just above her elbows. Even though they would likely roll slightly as soon as she removed her cloak. “You remember all my advice?” 

“Yes, dear sister.” 

Of course she did. She remembered everything her sister told her. She also remembered that her sister had yet to find herself a reliable and secure attachment. She had silently decided to take everything she said with a grain of salt. It wouldn’t do either of them any good to point out the fact, and would probably only make her life more miserable because her sister’s moods always having a profound effect on her own. 

Besides, she already knew what her sister’s answer would be were she to point it out. Phoebe would go on and on about how she was waiting for the perfect man, the one who would sweep her off her feet and leave her with no doubt whether another would be more suitable. 

Felicity only wished that there was even an inkling of the fact that one man could be the right one for her. Yet she was certain she would not find him at Lady Leicester’s annual ball and, to be honest, all she wanted was to go home. She would have traded places with their brother in a heartbeat if it meant that she could be left alone at home to read and draw to her heart’s content. 

Even as the carriage drew up to the front steps of the Leicesters’ country manor house, Felicity couldn’t help but wonder, as she always did, would things have been at all different if mama were here? 

Following her father’s gaze out of the carriage window, she shivered with distaste at the thought of having to go anywhere near another ball. It was only February and already she felt as though she had already hit her quota for the entire year. 

“Chin up, City, I have a feeling we are both going to find exactly what we are looking for this evening!” Phoebe assured her, reaching over to tap her palm on her knee and give her leg a good and reassuring squeeze. Again, Felicity forced a smile, holding back the urge to yell at her sister to stop calling her that. “After all, February is the month of love.” 

Felicity rolled her eyes at that. Her sister had practically said the same thing about every other month before it, especially in December when Christmas had been in full swing and she had been adamant that it was the perfect time to find a match, for cosy nights beside the fire with a loved one. Something neither of them had experienced. Not that Felicity was entirely bothered about that. She had never been a fool in love or even wished to be one, not like her sister, who always seemed to be away with the fairies on such matters. 

I think I shall leave that down to you, sister, she thought even as the forced smile on her face ached and she replied, “I hope you are right, sister.” 


Chapter Two

Michael Thurnball, the Viscount Rainer, was unsure why he had ever agreed to attend Lady Leicester’s ball in the first place. It was all the fault of his closest friend, Jonathan, as always. And even though the gentleman had been adamant that they both attend, he appeared to have disappeared well over an hour earlier, most likely off having fun somewhere with a wealthy widow. 

The situation he had left Michael in was less than ideal. With his name written on several dance cards, more thanks to his friend’s guilt tripping than himself, he currently found himself sharing the floor with a most vapid and shallow woman who had all but directly suggested that he was welcome to take liberties with her so long as they were discreet. 

Michael knew the type; though they were few and far between. They were quite desperate. The maturer of the younger ladies who were terrified of being overlooked simply because they were growing slightly older without having secured a marriage for themselves, watching those who came after them get snapped up and wondering why they could not do so themselves. 

The dance with her felt as though it lasted a lifetime and when it finally ended, he was feeling more than miserable, having been amenable to the idea of being overseas and working where he was always most comfortable. Yet he smiled all the same and thanked the young woman for her company before quickly making his way back to the edge of the dancefloor. He hoped to remain there undisturbed until an adequate amount of time had passed and he could slip away without causing anybody offence in leaving. 

Everybody around him appeared to be having much more fun than he was. There was plenty of drinking, nibbling, talking and dancing going on, and yet Michael felt set apart from it all. He wanted nothing more than to fade into the edge of the room, into the shadows. 

As he surveyed the ballroom, looking for the perfect moment to do so, he locked eyes with another party-goer, one that he had not noticed before. Perhaps she was a late-comer who had arrived during his dance with the insipid Miss Mellows. 

But he most certainly took notice of her now. The very moment that their gazes met across the dancefloor, his heart leapt into his throat. Just meeting those dark grey-blue eyes made Michael feel as though he had been touched by flame. 

Though the ballroom was quite warm, he had felt chilled to the bone all evening. Not now, not as he met this woman’s gaze, not as he took in her dark blonde hair, grey-blue eyes, and creamy complexion. Immediately hot under the collar, Michael felt as though everyone else in the ballroom was merely melting away into insignificance. Even the music that had been playing loudly for the entire event seemed to be silenced, until all he could hear was the racing of his own heart. 

Michael was unsure why he felt so strongly towards the beautiful young woman. Perhaps it was her charming appearance, or maybe it was the trapped expression on her face that suggested she felt much the same way as he. Either way, he found his feet were steadily guiding him in her direction. 

Although the young women she was standing with were talking animatedly, she appeared entirely uninterested in whatever it was they were saying. And the single gentleman that was standing within the party, directly at the beautiful blonde’s side, looked as though he was looming over her possessively. Michael was absolutely certain she was not pleased to be there. 

As he drew closer, her gaze never left his. Instead, it became pleading. The distinct impression that she required help caused Michael to step up to the entire group and instinctively ask, “Miss, I was wondering whether I might add my name to your dance card this evening?” with a respectful bow. 

“Oh, I am certain that there is no need for that,” stated the brunette woman, who was standing right at the blonde’s side, opposite the gentleman, practically hemming her into the group. “I am sure your dance card is quite empty.” 

“Yes, it is,” the blonde woman responded, perhaps a little too eagerly even as she offered Michael her hand. “I would be honoured, sir.” 

Michael could not stop the brilliant smile that spread across his face at her acceptance. And he had to bite back laughter at the disgruntled expression on the young gentleman’s face as he took the woman’s hand and led her out onto the dancefloor ready for the next dance. 

Immediately upon beginning to dance, the young woman apologised, “I am sorry for encouraging you over, sir. You see, I was desperate not to have to dance with Lord Applebaum again.” 

As she spoke, Michael guided her around the dancefloor, his gaze finding the young nobleman where they had left him. The man still looked utterly disgusted at having watched her walk away from his side, and Michael had to force himself not to offer a satisfied smile in the man’s direction. 

“I made no request that I was not unwilling to make,” Michael assured her, turning his full attention back to her, and offering her the smile instead. “You looked most uncomfortable, and I felt the obligation to rescue you.” 

“Then, sir, I feel I must commend you for your instincts as they were bang on the mark,” she said, her own smile lighting up her face in a way that made her even more beautiful. And for the first time that evening, Michael found he was actually comfortable in a dance. 

The young woman fit so perfectly into his arms, and there was no tugging between them, their bodies gliding elegantly around the dancefloor as though they had done so a thousand times before. All the while they talked, though afterwards Michael could not have said what they talked about. All he knew for certain was that he could not take his eyes off her. 

And by the time the dance ended, he could not resist the urge to lean in and kiss her, a passionate kiss that left his head spinning and his knees weak. 

It lasted for only a moment, and yet when he pulled back and blinked open his eyes, he quickly came to remember where they were. 

“Are you quite alright, sir?” she asked him, gazing up at him as though she was none the wiser and Michael realised with a sharp inhale he had imagined the entire thing. Yet somehow his lips still tingled as though he truly had kissed her. “You appear quite flushed.” 

Clearing his throat, Michael quickly responded, “Yes, yes. I am well. It is merely hotter in here than I imagined.” 

Guiding her back to the edge of the dancefloor to leave her there with a bow, Michael fought the embarrassment that was threatening to turn his entire face red. Never in his life had he imagined something so mundane as a kiss upon first meeting a young woman. Of course, he had suffered carnal thoughts of several women in his lifetime, but those thoughts always tended to come hours after an introduction, mostly in the early hours of the morning, when he found he could not sleep on his ship out at sea. 

He had never in his life been so taken by fantasy in the middle of a ballroom, surrounded by people who would flay him if he so much as acted upon such thoughts in their presence. 

In his hurry to leave the situation, it was only after he had returned her to her friends and left her there that he suddenly realised… I failed to catch her name. 

Instinctually turning back to get it, Michael was just in time to see the young woman slipping away from her group. From his vantage point, he watched her leave them and slip out of the ballroom. Perhaps she feels as flustered as I.  

“A Lustful Duke’s Valentine Card” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

The alluring Lady Felicity Hanover has always lived in her elder sister’s shadow. With her mother long gone, she is forced to endure the constant pressure of being perfectly matched by the end of the season, just like her sister. The most lustful chapter of her life is about to begin, when the seductive Duke of Rainer lays eyes on her. However, her entire world is about to be complicated by his love letter that accidentally reaches her sister instead.

Αn unexpected love triangle…

When Admiral Michael Thurnball’s father, the Duke of Rainer, passes away, the rising naval officer’s life is changed forever. Although he has never had any interest in marriage or even becoming Duke, a flaming beauty catches his eye at a Valentine ball and makes him change his mind. There is just one problem; he does not know her name. Being recalled to France, he decides to make his intentions known via letter. Little did he know, though, that he would be thrown into a tortuous courtship with the wrong lady…

What will happen when his sinful letters threaten to bring the Duke to the verge of scandal?

When their eyes first meet on Valentine’s Day, the spark between Lady Felicity and the Duke is instant, and soon, a sizzling romance begins. Yet, at every twist and turn their lustful liaison seems to reach a dead end… With backstabbing, blackmail, betrayal and deceit, fate has not seen fit to smile upon this scandalous couple. Will they find their way out of the shadow of gossip? Or will bitterness steal their hopes for passionate love once and for all?

“A Lustful Duke’s Valentine Card” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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