Unmasking the Devilish Duke (Preview)

Chapter One

Sophia

There were a great many things that Sophia Hampton knew she was not supposed to do. She was a young lady of impeccable breeding and flawless manners. Sophia was the sort of person never to speak out of turn. She never forgot herself. She would never be anywhere near a scandal – her name was tied to a glowing, perfect reputation. All who saw her would smile and often say ‘aww’. All of her life, Sophia had been told she was such a sweet young girl and how one day she would make a lovely wife. 

Sophia would never avoid her parents to seek enjoyment at a ball. 

She certainly would never hike up her skirts and run away from their keenly observant eyes like she was playing a game of catch the mouse. 

Oh no, not Sophia. 

Only, that was precisely what she was doing. It was about as rebellious as she had yet dared herself to be. Sophia felt lighter than she could remember as she lifted onto the balls of her slippered feet and took off as quickly as she could duck out of her mother’s view and around the corner of the terrace. The heavy skirts of her lovely dress were clutched in her gloved fists, and her chest heaved as she struggled to keep her breathing even lest her panting give her away. 

“Sophia?! Sophia, darling, where have you gone?!” her mother called over the stone railing. Unsurprisingly, the woman had come looking for her out here, after all – Sophia had claimed that she only needed a moment of fresh air. That had been twenty minutes ago. The dance card that hung from her wrist was full. A handful of eligible young men would be most distressed when they could not find her to twirl her around the dance floor, prattling off whatever inane stories they found amusing. 

It was not as if they wished to engage her in real conversation. Sophia had learned that quickly. Gentlemen only spoke about topics they deemed gentle and appropriate enough for women. Topics such as the flowers and what their favorite tea might be. They would discuss their travels but only so far as to explain that they had gone. They tended to conveniently gloss over all the important bits. This was her eternal disappointment as Sophia craved to know about foreign lands in a way she could never obtain from books alone. 

Perhaps the reluctance to be trapped into another boring conversation had her evading her mother. But Sophia knew she could predict how plain and uninteresting the rest of her evening would be if forced back into the ballroom. She knew she had to marry, of course, as it was her duty. But was it so insane a notion for her to wish to be married to a man whom she found interesting?

Slowly, Sophia hedged around the trellis and back into the property through a side door – only to bump straight into her dearest friend, Mary Montgomery. 

“Apologies!” Sophia uttered automatically, a charming, bright smile illuminating her features out of reflex alone. “I was being careless. I did not mean to bump into you –”

Only it was Mary – and the moment her friend’s identity fully registered, Sophia dropped her hands and the sugary sweet act. 

Mary’s brows lifted in amusement, and she laughed when she spoke. “I see. So that is how I am to be treated by you after so many years of friendship. You will no longer care that I am injured by your recklessness simply because you know who I am?” 

Sophia matched her friend’s posture and placed her hands on her hips. “If you must know – I was only being careless because I am hiding.”

“Yes, I know.” Mary giggled. “Your father and mother have already sought me out, rather frantically, I might add, seeking your company. They are truly very worried about you. But, mercifully for you, I am a wonderful friend and informed them that you have stolen away to powder your nose. I cannot assume that bought you much time, but it is enough for you to compose yourself and return to your glamorous evening.”

“And if I should not wish to return to said glamour?” 

“Oh, poor pity you; droves of handsome men are begging for your hand! Whatever shall you do?” Mary teased her friend good-naturedly. 

Sophia’s cheeks warmed with light embarrassment. “That does not sound anything like me.”

“Oh, my dear Sophia, it sounds far more like the real you than you are willing to admit.” Mary placed a hand on Sophia’s arm and shook her head. 

“Come off it!” Sophia giggled and took her friend’s arm in her own. “I am just nervous, I suppose. Will you not walk with me for a moment?”

Mary glanced over her shoulder. In the distance, the lively music was audible even over the gentle roar of conversation. “Perhaps for a moment. While my dance card is not so full as yours, there is a rather interesting gentleman that I should like to take a turn with.” 

“Well, once I have finished lamenting my woes, you must tell me all about this gentleman.” Sophia smiled as they stepped back out into the cool night air. 

“Very well. So confide in me. I have never seen you work so hard or so obviously to circumvent your parents’ will. Has something happened?” Mary asked. 

Sophia shook her head. The more she thought about it, the more aware of her body she became. A tightness formed in her chest, and the delicate tiara twisted into her hair suddenly felt too tight on her head. It startled her to feel this way. “I suppose it is just all so new! In truth, I am not certain what to make of it all. It is only my first season.”

Mary nodded in understanding. “I think I understand. Might this have something to do with a certain viscount hovering about your parents all evening?”

The nameless knot in Sophia’s stomach twisted. Instantly, her prim and proper breeding kicked in. Even though Mary was her dearest friend, she would never allow herself to speak her true thoughts out loud. “No, no – it is nothing like that. By all accounts, Lord Hardings is a very fine gentleman. Everyone always says so.”

“Certainly. The public opinion of the viscount is lovely, but I am not asking what other people think; I am asking what you think,” Mary continued as they slowly started to circle back towards the ballroom. 

Sophia’s mind drifted for a moment. What were her personal feelings on the matter? “I am certain that my parents would be thrilled were he to declare that he wished to marry me.”

Mary’s lips pinched. She repeated the same thing that their parents always said about Sophia when marriage came up. She even affected her voice to sound sweeter than her normal low register.  “Well, of course, any man with eyes would be lucky to marry a woman as beautiful and sweet as you.”

Sophia smiled. “Stop that. Do not tease me!”

“Then stop pretending as if marriage to a viscount is some terrible chore! You would be set for life!” Mary said. 

“My parents have made comments already … but I suppose I just thought it would take longer. I did not think everything would be so fast. I thought that maybe … that maybe I would have a little more time to live my life and explore before settling down. I have not even formally met him. The season just started.”

“That might be true, but as a woman in her second season – let me give you a touch of friendly advice. Everything is shiny and new in your first season, but if you fail … if you do not find a husband, things become different.” Mary’s voice saddened as she spoke, her eyes downcast. “My parents look at me differently now.”

Sophia’s breath hitched. She would never have offended her friend on purpose. “I am sorry. I was being careless with my words …”

Mary paused their walk and took Sophia’s hands in her own. “I speak from a place of love, my dear friend, and I know that you have been raised even more sheltered than most of us. You are naive in many ways. But, you must never be afraid of your future.”

Sophia did not wish to be afraid. She wished to see London for herself. She wished to travel and learn as much as she could without limitations. She wished to experience … to feel. 

The glitz and glamour of all the extravagant parties and dinners were marvellous. She had only begun to explore all that the social season had to offer her. If this were the one chance in her life where she could weigh her options,  Sophia was determined to do it. Even if that meant she had to disappoint her friend in the process. 

“Come, your mother and father are worried about you. They are likely to send out search parties for you at any moment.” Mary started to pull her friend back towards the ballroom. “It is not so intimidating as you might think. I promise.” 

Sophia smiled back at her friend, but she did not feel soothed. She could still feel the restlessness in her chest. She knew very well what would happen if she were to walk back into that ballroom now. She would curtsy and dance. She would make overly polite small talk until her eyes rolled into the back of her head from boredom. Her parents would usher her over to meet the viscount officially, and it would begin. The race towards marriage and spending her life as a dutiful wife would begin – and she was not ready. 

The knot in her chest tightened. She knew it now to be panic. 

Sophia forced her smile to be a touch brighter. “Go on ahead without me. I just need a moment to compose myself.”

Mary gave her a sideways glance but did not call her friend out on it. “Are you certain you are all right?”

Sophia nodded and clasped her hands demurely in front of her. “Perfectly well. I shall be along momentarily.”

Mary dipped into a bow that Sophia returned. She did not dare to move an inch from her spot until she was absolutely certain that Mary had returned to the ballroom – and she ran. Even just the momentary burst of energy lessened the knot in her chest. She just needed to find a small alcove or private parlour where she could soothe her nerves and steady herself. She just needed a moment to settle into the choice that she must make. It was the wisest option available to return to the ballroom. She was sure she could find a new, smaller dream in time. 

Sophia would marry and fulfill her duty. She would make her parents proud. She could settle for that. She would find a way to be happy. If she were forced to. The viscount was well respected. He was a handsome enough gentleman. There was no reason for her not to be happy with him. Perhaps he was well-read and entertaining as well! She would not know until she tried, she supposed.

So why did the notion make her want to cry? She could feel the light inside of her dimming. 

So distracted by her panic, she failed to remember to pay attention to her surroundings. She turned the corner too quickly and ran smack dab into a large, solid figure. Shocked, Sophia rebounded off him and stumbled back. A sharp pain shot up her leg from her ankle, and her breath came up short as she gasped in pain. Her knees buckled, and the room seemed to tilt – only the impact with the ground never came. 

Strong hands found her waist and lifted her upright – leading her face to face with the most strikingly handsome pair of green eyes she had ever seen. 

Chapter Two

Sophia

“My deepest apologies, My Lady, I am so sorry; are you all right?” the man asked quickly as his brow knit in concern for the woman in his arms. His voice was warm and soothing. He smelled like roasted chestnuts and musk in the very best possible way. It took only half a second of being in his capable arms for Sophia to decide it was her new, very favourite scent. 

Her cheeks flushed with heat as she blinked up at him. She floundered for words. In the presence of his handsome features, it seemed as if all her conversational abilities had simply melted out of her head. She had never been more aware of her body or the indecent way she was held to the man. With her hands on his upper arms, she could feel the muscles ripple as he helped her back to her feet. 

“Miss? Shall I fetch a physician? Are you well? I shall never forgive myself if I have harmed you.”

Hm? A physician? Oh no. That would be far more trouble than it was worth. The question forced her to come to her senses, and she shook her head that no, she was all right. “No need to fuss, sir; I thank you for your concern.”

Sophia smiled sheepishly as she fought against the heat of embarrassment and something else she could not quite explain. It felt as if the hallway had suddenly risen ten degrees. The urge to fan her face was quickly rising. 

“I am quite well. I ought to have been watching where I was going …” Sophia excused quickly as she shifted the blame of their accident to herself. She pushed away from his arms and moved to stand on her own – and instantly regretted it. Pain sparked up her ankle, and she cried out. “Oh!”

“What is it? Please, allow me to assist you. It is the least I can do,” the man offered, placing a supportive hand around her waist as he took her other hand in his for stability. Together, she managed to limp over to a small, padded bench on the other side of the wide hallway. The pain instantly lessened when she was no longer attempting to put any weight on her foot. There was a throbbing, pulsing ache that Sophia had only felt once before when her father had forced her out of climbing a tree when she was younger. 

The man assisting her was perplexing. He spoke like any other member of the ton with his fine manner of speaking, but his looks were of somebody more common. If she were not mistaken, she would have assumed he was a footman. Was that possible? It could certainly make sense why he would be so far from the ballroom. Perhaps there was a servants’ entrance somewhere near here that he was entering through. Yes, that was likely the cause. Never mind his station; he was helping her. For that, she would be eternally grateful. 

Her teeth worried her bottom lip as she lifted her leg and gingerly attempted to rotate her foot. She did not wish to make a fuss, but it hurt far more than she would have anticipated from such a small injury. She could practically hear her mother’s voice in her ear telling her not to be so silly, that she needed to hold her head up high and be stronger than the tenderness. But Sophia knew she had always been a sensitive woman. Physical touch had always seemed more intense to her than for others around her from what little she knew of it — sadly that also included her pain. Her mother would call her dramatic. Sophia did not wish for this handsome, kind man to think of her as dramatic. 

“My Lady, it would be no trouble at all to fetch a physician. Here, wait a moment, and I shall return swiftly,” the man offered once more. 

Sophia shook her head and held up a hand to stop him. “No! Please, there is no need to go through such trouble on my behalf. I just need to rest for a moment, and I am certain to be right as rain. You will see.”

Though she would not say no to the handsome man keeping her company while she rested, he likely had a great many other things he needed to attend to that took precedence over her injured ankle, but she hoped anyway. 

“I am worried you might have sprained your ankle when you nearly fell. That is hardly an injury to scoff at.” The man boldly sat beside her and gestured to her ankle. “It can be troublesome for quite some time if left untreated. Certainly a beautiful woman such as yourself wishes to dance. You shall need a physician.”

“Ye of little faith.” Sophia teased with a cheeky wink. “For all you know, you are doing the gentlemen in that ballroom a grand favour. Perhaps I have two left feet and no manner of grace at all.”

“I am inclined to believe a great many things, but you being graceless is not one of them,” the man said with a sly smile. 

“Oh? And you feel as if you are properly qualified to make such a statement based on what? Sir, we have already established that I am clumsy.” Sophia laughed easily as she gestured broadly to her injured ankle. “All things must happen for a reason, sir, and while I might be sore for a few days – I think I can handle it.”

“I would hardly consider that to be clumsy as I was not watching where I was going either.” The man smiled handsomely. 

“I insist on taking the blame here,” Sophia said with pouty defiance. 

The man laughed. It was a rich and beautiful sound – one that she would very much like to hear again. She did not think she could get enough of that sound. It was intoxicating. 

“At least allow me to do the proper thing by a lady such as yourself and permit me to fetch your chaperone. A family member, perhaps?”

“No!” Sophia spoke too quickly. The man looked positively taken aback by how forcefully she spoke. Her face heated further. She could only imagine how red she was blushing. “I-I mean … I was just coming to get some air … there is no need.”

The man lifted an eyebrow as he watched her deny him. She tried to look anywhere but his face but with such intense eye contact, it was hard to avoid him. “I see …”

Sophia giggled. “Whatever it is that that look is alluding to, sir, I assure you there is nothing sinister about my objective.”

“No, of course not,” he replied sarcastically. 

“I am perfectly serious!”

He nodded, clearly not believing her at all. It almost felt like he was implying that she had come all  this way to sneak off and meet someone. 

That would have been preferable to this. At least then, she would have had a good story to reflect upon later this evening when alone and in her bed. As it was, she could only lament her clumsiness to herself. She likely should have been offended by the insinuation. But, as this footman was hardly acting in a way befitting his station and interacting like this with a young lady of the ton, she felt almost as if it were giving her permission to be slightly more free herself. 

It was much the same with the rest of the staff in her father’s employ. Her parents had always been very careful about who she was and was not allowed to interact with. They always cautioned her that she would be known by the reputations of her friends as well as by her own deeds and actions. Because of this, the people she conversed with the most often were the house staff. Countless times she had been dragged out of the kitchens for playing with the cook’s children when they were permitted to come to visit. She spoke with the stable hands, the ladies’ maids, anyone and everyone that resided in the same home as herself. 

Sophia loved to hear the stories of other people’s lives. She was constantly jealous of their experiences – both the good and the bad. No doubt the man seated beside her now had a very rich and full story to share, should he ever be so inclined to do so. Simply being so well-spoken alone ought to indicate that he had an interesting story or two from his life. 

Propriety would say that she ought to be a good deal less interested in him and his stories and a good deal more concerned with the fact that she was presently sitting alone with a man where anyone could see her – speaking in such a forward, nearly flirtatious manner. It was inexcusable, and she could not be bothered to care. 

It was far too nice to speak to someone without ulterior motives. This man did not care about her title or her father’s lands. He had not asked her name, where she came from, or what house she belonged to. He had no way of knowing about the size of her considerable dowry. He was speaking to her for the enjoyment of it. 

She hoped. 

“Shall I assist you outside then? Since you are incapable of running away from the festivities now?” the man offered, holding out his arm to her once more. 

“I was not running,” Sophia fibbed. 

“The collision with my chest says otherwise.” He playfully rubbed the spot she had barrelled into as if it had suddenly started hurting him. “It does make me curious what you felt the need to run from? Was it the droll conversation? The wine? The stuffy aristocracy?”

Sophia giggled. “Would it be truly terrible of me to say a little of all of the above?” 

The man’s smile widened, and he nodded sagely. “Ah, what is his name?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The man who has bored you so terribly that you needed to quite literally flee from your situation. Or, did you not even bother to ascertain his name?” the man continued as if it should have somehow been obvious. 

“You are terrible.” Sophia laughed. 

“You are not denying it either. Tell me, who was it?” the man enquired, pressing a little more. 

“All of them. If you must know.” She flashed a grin as she examined her dance card. “I know running away from potential suitors is wrong, but I could not help myself.”

“Oh, you have mistaken me, My Lady. I do not blame you in the slightest. I would have done precisely the same thing had I been in your place. I have watched a great many of these things over the years, and it has always been remarkable to me how with just the span of a single dance, a man can plot out a woman’s whole life for them and not once bother to see if it aligns with what his partner might actually want.”

Sophia’s jaw dropped. It was as if he had read her mind. “Y-yes … how did you … that is exactly what it is.”

“You learn a lot of things by watching,” the man said ominously. “Stepping outside of your perspective can be enlightening sometimes.” 

Sophia could not help wishing that this man was one of the ones on her dance card. She did not even know his name, yet she was already more attracted to him than any other man in the ballroom. She wanted to take his arm and allow him to escort her out to the gardens so that she could honestly clear her mind and indulge in the cool evening air – but her ankle was feeling a great deal better, and she knew she could only stall for a moment or two longer, no matter how much she wished otherwise. 

“I must say, sir, this is the most refreshing conversation I have had in quite some time,” Sophia complimented. 

“Ah, why does that somehow sound like you are about to leave?” the man lamented with a wry smile. 

“The aristocracy … it calls to me.” Sophia droned dramatically, and the man chuckled. She held out a hand in greeting to him. “I am Sophia.” She purposefully left off her title and surname. She liked the informality of their conversation and did not wish to change things between them by making them strained and overly formal. 

“Harry.” He grinned and shook her hand for a moment before promptly flipping it so that he could formally kiss the back of her hand. “It is truly a pleasure to have encountered you, Miss Sophia, even for as briefly as it must be.”

“Duty calls for both of us, it seems.” Sophia lamented with a sigh. Pulling her hand away from his was harder than she would admit. Nor would she admit the tingles that had erupted over the back of her hand. 

“Yes, the feet will not man themselves,” Harry agreed jokingly, confirming his role as a footman to one of the families in the ballroom. She wanted to ask which one, but then that would negate the informality they were sharing so comfortably. 

“Quite so.” Sophia allowed Harry to help her rise to a standing position as she experimentally applied some weight onto her tender ankle. It was still uncomfortable but manageable. “Thank you again – I hope to encounter you sometime in the future?”

“For much less painful circumstances,” Harry agreed and bowed his goodbye. Her hand slipped from his as it must – and the moment they parted ways — she quickly regretted it. 


“Unmasking the Devilish Duke” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Sophia Hampton, bred to be the epitome of grace, hides a secret longing for a life of passion and independence. Every aspect of her existence has been orchestrated to fit society’s expectations, but deep inside, she yearns for something more. When she encounters the captivating footman, Harry, a world of possibilities unfolds before her.

Will Sophia dare to break free from the chains of convention and surrender to the forbidden desires he awakens within her?

Duke Henry Sinclar, tired of the monotonous life of a noble, craves a love that transcends societal expectations. Disguised as the footman ‘Harry,’ he infiltrates the glittering world of the ton in search of a woman who desires him for his true self. His clandestine quest for passion, however, will lead him to realize that true love is beyond disguise…

Will he find a woman who sees through the façade to the depths of his soul, or will his secret identity forever stand in the way of his heart’s desire?

Within a world where desire blazes beneath a cloak of secrecy, Duke Henry and Lady Sophia find themselves entangled in a web of passionate yearning and deceit. Their hearts burn with an irresistible connection, but the truth looms ever closer, threatening to expose their hidden identities. Will they defy the boundaries of their roles and seize their chance at eternal love? Or will the revelation of their true selves unleash consequences that could tear them apart forever?

“Unmasking the Devilish Duke” 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!

5 thoughts on “Unmasking the Devilish Duke (Preview)”

    1. Hi, I just finished your book Unmasking the Devilish Duke, I been trying to get the extended edition of the story, I keep receiving error message when I got to the site for extended endings, It just said error occurred…
      Please help I would like to see what happens to Sophia and Henry? Thank you Dalia

  1. Hi, I can’t get the extended story of unmasking the devilish Duke? , I keep receiving error when I put mt email? , I would to see what to Sophia and Henry?

  2. Hi, I can’t receive update of the extended version of Unmasked the Devilish Duke though my email…I keep getting error message? What happens to Sophia and Henry?

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