Today’s guest is Margaret Locke, and her new release The Demon Duke.
Behind every good man is a great secret.
Banished to Yorkshire as a boy for faults his father failed to beat out of him, Damon Blackbourne has no use for English society and had vowed never to return to his family’s estate at Thorne Hill, much less London. However, when his father and brother die in a freak carriage accident, it falls on Damon to take up the mantle of the Malford dukedom and to introduce his sisters to London Society–his worst nightmare come to life.
He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The beautiful debutante stirs him body and soul with her deep chocolate eyes and hesitant smiles. Until she stumbles across his dark secret.
Bookish Grace much prefers solitude and reading to social just-about-anything. Her family may be pressuring her to take on the London Season to find herself a husband, but she has other ideas. Such as writing a novel of her own. But she has no idea how to deal with the Duke of Malford.
Will she betray him to the world? Or will she be his saving Grace?
Meet Margaret Locke
As a teen, Margaret pledged to write romances when she was older. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grownup things, not penning stories. Thank goodness turning forty cured her of that silly notion.
Now happily ensconced again in the clutches of her first crush (romance novels!), Margaret is never happier than when sharing her passion for a grand Happy Ever After. Because love matters.
Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and three fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact she’s not an outdoors person.
You can find here here:
Rexborough Ball, London Early April, 1814
Grace squeezed nearer to the wall, surveying the crowded room from her cramped corner. Bodies moved around each other as everyone jockeyed for position. It was the first grand ball of the Season, a mad crush at the Marquess of Rexborough’s expansive London estate. There was hardly space to dance, though the orchestra played gaily.
If only she could go home. Her sister Emmeline danced by with Lord Everton, a vivacious smile lighting her face. Even Rebecca’s eyes sparkled with happiness as she carefully executed her steps opposite the handsome Marquess of Emerlin.
Why could Grace not feel the same excitement?
Matilda, standing next to Grace, beamed at her other two daughters, delighting in their successes in snagging eligible men so early in the evening.
“They’re merely dancing, Mother. No need to plan the weddings.”
The dowager duchess sniffed. “At least they’re dancing. You have begged off three invitations so far.”
“Lord Oglesby has two left feet, quite possibly three, if my toes have any say. Lord Featherstone is old enough to be my grandfather. And Lord Emerlin only asked because you wished him to. You know he’s had his sights on Becca for waltzing.”
Her mother aired her face with the elaborate fan in her right hand. “I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad match. Though he is so much her elder.”
“A marquess and the eventual heir to a dukedom. Not such a bad match, indeed. And ten is not so many years. Many a young lady has married a far older gentleman.”
Matilda Mattersley opened her mouth as if to respond when a commotion started amongst the ball goers. They gave a collective gasp as a man entered the room. He was clad entirely in black—black pantaloons, black coat and waistcoat, even an ebony shirt and cravat. Thick black hair tousled wildly over his forehead. Two young ladies next to Grace tittered.
“He is of fine countenance,” one gushed.
“Who is he?” said the other.
A matron broke in, speaking sharply. “Did you not hear him announced? That’s the Duke of Malford.” She made the sign of the cross. “They say he is a devil. They call him the Demon Duke.”
“Really?” the first girl exclaimed.
The older woman slapped the girl’s knuckles with her fan. “Don’t even think about it, Alice. Come, let us seek some lemonade.”
The girl obediently followed the matron, no doubt her mother, through the mass of people.
“The Demon Duke,” Grace murmured.
The man moved farther into the room. His grin was wicked, but his shoulders tight, his eyes . . . sad. Did he notice how people edged away? How whispers raced across the room? How eyes peeped at him while pretending not to do so?
How could he not?
Sympathy flooded through Grace. “He doesn’t look devilish to me,” she said to her mother. “He looks uncomfortable. Like he wishes he were anywhere else but here.” How she could relate.
Matilda sucked a breath. “However he looks is not your concern. The Duke of Malford is not an option.”
“I do not think you have anything to fear, Mother. A man such as that would never be interested in a mouse such as me.”
A smile leaked through the dowager duchess’s pursed lips. “A mouse, indeed. It’s good to see this mouse knows to stay away from a cat. He looks rather feral.”
He is a panther, sleek and black. With the mien of a lion.
“If you’ll pardon me, Mama, I am in need of the retiring room.”
Grace slipped from the room. With everyone’s attention on the Duke, this was a good time to sneak away to the library, as she’d done at Rexborough balls a time or two before.
She pulled a book from the shelf. Ah yes. Aesop’s fables. She settled in near a window, her thoughts on the man in the ballroom.
Hadn’t Aesop said it was the mouse who saved the lion?