A Duke of a Time (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 1) (Ebook)
A Duke of a Time (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 1) (Ebook)
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They’re complete opposites. Society would never approve. But that doesn’t stop them from wanting more…
Greyson Everett, future Duke of Derby, has been exiled. Cut off financially and banished to the country by his disapproving father, he’s expected to repent and work like a commoner. If he has any hope of getting back to his real life, he’ll have to stay the course—and stop kissing his employer’s bossy, opinionated, and entirely too lovely daughter. It should be easy. But it’s not…
Hailey Woodville is grateful for all the hands that make light work of the chores on her father’s modest estate. Well, she’s grateful for most of them. Greyson is one of the worst workers she’s ever seen. His ineptitude at manual labor is exceeded only by his arrogance—and his beauty. She should stay away. Unfortunately, she cannot…
But soon, Greyson will need to determine if the price of happily ever after with Hailey is one that he’s able (and willing) to pay—and Hailey will need to decide if she can forgive Greyson the sins of his rakish past…
Read a Sample
Read a Sample
1805, Berkeley Square, London
Greyson Everett, Marquess of Cadmael, clenched his fists and ground his teeth as his father continued his tirade against him. He schooled his features, knowing too well that to insult and anger his father more by arguing or disagreeing with his views never ended well for him. He had learned a long time ago to keep his mouth shut or face physical repercussions.
Even so, the demand his father put upon him was beyond anything he had ever dished out before. Perhaps the rumors were true that were circulating about London. That his father was turning senile. That the nasty old duke was losing his mind. His decree certainly made Greyson think that was the case.
"Northamptonshire? That is where you're sending me?" He took a calming breath, the urge to stand, to go nose to nose with the waspish duke who had few friends—and fewer relatives who wanted to ever be around him—grew.
As the spiteful words continued to rain down on Greyson, he promised himself he would never be a father such as his. A mean and nasty, violent and vindictive bastard whom he loathed.
He could only thank his dearest mother was no longer around to suffer such a union.
"You," his father spat, pointing his chubby, stubby finger in his direction, "will go to Northamptonshire. You will work at Mr. Woodville's manor house, and you will work hard and sweat out the privilege you have since you're not respectful of it."
"I gained a mistress, Father. I enjoy entertainments offered to us during The Season and my club. Many gentlemen in town do the same. There is nothing wrong with that."
"Well, your mistress is no more, for I'll not pay for any whore or any more gambling or rutting or whatever it is that you do about town all day."
Greyson shuffled in his chair, fisting his hands in his lap. What he really wanted to do was punch his bastard father in the nose and walk out. Rutting and gambling indeed. His father made it sound as if that was all he did, and while he did quite a lot of it, it was never with women who were not willing to lift their skirts, and never with an unmarried maid.
It was not like he was rutting up against the side of a building in St. James without a by your leave. His father ought to be proud that his trysts were private, not fodder for gossips.
"Do you mean you are cutting off my allowance?" he asked, making a mental calculation on how much money he did have left in hand. Not quite a hundred pounds, which if his father followed through on his threat, would keep him fed and clothed at least in Northamptonshire, but little else. He would normally blow through five times that amount on a night when the need arose.
Which wasn't as often as his father was making out.
"Indeed I am, and you will be leaving for the Woodville Estate in Northamptonshire following our discussion via stagecoach. I have instructed your valet to pack items of clothing that will be suitable as a farmhand and some funds to see you through your journey up north. Do not try to run, do not try to seek help from any friends you know. I have men watching you who will put a stop to such things. You will learn your lesson, boy, and you will learn it the hard way."
Greyson narrowed his eyes at his sire. How was it that he was from his loins? How was it that anyone would have ever married such a heinous, nasty piece of cow dung?
"I think this is an overreaction to your son who gained a mistress. I could have instead caused scandal by having an illicit affair with some matron, or an unhappily married woman in our society. No sane father reacts like you do. I enjoy my freedom as a young and unmarried lord. Just as I'm certain you did as well. What is wrong with you?"
His father's eyes widened before his face turned a deep shade of red. His Grace fisted his hands at his sides, and Greyson could see them shaking. "Do not ever speak back to me again. You have responsibility and respectability to keep for the Derby dukedom. I will not have my only son making a fool and mockery out of our name. Never in the history of the family has anyone released their seed outside the bonds of marriage, and I will not have you do the same."
Greyson took a calming breath. "I'm careful, Father, and with the precautions I take, I'm certain that will not happen."
"Lady Francesca the Earl of Lincoln's daughter, is an heiress and attractive enough to tempt you, I'm sure. Upon your return, you will court her and marry the chit. She will make a perfect duchess."
"I will not," he returned hotly, having heard enough. "You cannot make me marry anyone whom I do not wish to." He paused. "Not to mention her face resembles the horses she loves so very dearly."
“You will court and marry her upon your arrival home once you have learned your lesson, and I am satisfied you're a man of character and not loose morals. You will marry a woman who is a good Christian with high principles, connections, and wealth. I shall hear of nothing else about it. Do you understand, boy?"
Greyson swallowed the bile that rose in his throat and stood. "I understand perfectly. I also want to state that you're a bastard, and if I never lay eyes on you again, I will not be disappointed."
His father smirked, and it more resembled a snarl. "I'm glad you finally understand your father. Safe travels, son," he said, dismissing him with a flick of his hand before he sat himself down at his desk and continued on with his bookwork.
Greyson turned on his heel and stormed from the room, not bothering to close the door behind him. This was utterly uncalled for and not to mention absurd. Northamptonshire indeed. And to work as a farmhand, who had ever thought of such an insult to a duke's son.
He went directly to his room and found his valet packing up the last of his things. He looked at the small trunk with distaste. "What have you packed me, Thompson?" he asked his loyal servant, who had come to work for the ducal estate as a young, orphaned boy and was his friend long before he became his valet.
"I found some old gardener’s clothing in the attic upstairs. There were some boots and a worn greatcoat, which should do you well up in Northamptonshire. It will be colder up north than down here in London."
Greyson spied the second small bag near the armoire. "What is in that bag?" he asked, pulling at his cravat and changing into a set of clothing laid out on his bed. There was little point in staying in London, not if his father had men watching his every move and was determined he would do as he was told.
And he would, he would prove to his father that he would not only go to the Woodville Estate, but he would work hard just so his father could not say he did not. He would never let the bastard win this war. Nor would he be returning and marrying Lady Francesca. He shuddered at the thought.
"That is for me, my lord. I am coming with you." Thompson gestured to his clothing, which Greyson had not noticed until now was similar to what he was changing into. "I will work alongside you and keep an eye on you. You are a marquess, after all, and the future Duke of Derby. I'm sure I'm not the only one in London who wishes for your safe and speedy return."
Greyson sighed, annoyance thrumming through him that he had not been able to dismiss his mistress himself. That his father had carried out the duty left him uneasy. Was she safe? Did he give her any funds to keep her secure until she found another protector? "Send word to Cissie and ensure she's safe and well. Send funds too and apologize to her on my behalf."
"Of course, my lord." Thompson went about writing a letter, and Greyson finished changing his clothing. The trews were made of coarse fabric, less comfortable than his silk breeches. Not to mention the shirt was stained and had an odd scent about it.
He wrinkled his nose, hating to think what rodent had climbed over the clothing he now wore.
Thompson blotted the missive and sealed it. "I shall have this sent out today, my lord. I will return for the bags posthaste."
Greyson nodded, watching as Thompson left the room. He strode to his desk, found his purse holding the last of his allowance, and pocketed it. His hat sat on a nearby sideboard, and he swooped it up, laying it atop his head. Looking about the room, he shook his head at the thought of the journey he was about to embark upon. How foolish his father was being. How utterly narrowminded and behind the times.
It was 1805, for heaven's sake. Was it not time for his father to live in the new century upon them and stop living in the Georgian England he was so very fond of?
Thompson returned, picking up the trunk. "Shall we go, my lord? The hackney is out front to take us to the Swan with Two Necks Inn to catch the stagecoach."
"Yes," he said, taking one last look about his room. He could do this, and he would. And in the process, he would make his father look the fool for making him do such a thing.
The Duke of Derby glanced up from his desk and watched as his son strode past the library door and out of the town house, his valet close on his heels.
His steward stepped into the room, having been privy to the duke's plans and waiting for his son to depart. "So he is off then, Your Grace. Do you think your plan will work?"
His Grace fought not to laugh. "Oh, yes, I do. If my son has a soft spot for anything, it is an attractive woman, and I know for a fact that Anne Woodville has sired five handsome daughters. One of them will tempt Greyson, and finally, my revenge on that woman will be complete."
His steward nodded, but like most in the duke’s life, he did not know that Anne Woodville, daughter to an earl, had thrown him over for a country gentleman, no better than a farmer.
"What if your son falls for one of the Woodville daughters and elopes? Will not that make Anne a winner yet again, since her daughter will one day be a duchess?"
That was the beauty of his plan. Anne Woodville despised him now, he had ruined her father, and they had lost all their money not long after Anne had married Woodville. The last person she would allow her daughter to marry would be his son, when she found out who he was, of course.
"Anne will not allow a union between the pair, first because she will believe him a farmhand, too lowly for her daughter. But second, she will know it was me behind his arrival and when she realizes who he is, her hatred of me will stop any marriage between the pair. Even if they do elope, the merging of our families will hurt Anne, and that is enough for me, not that I think that will occur."
"And your son's heart, Your Grace? The young lady may be injured by this plan too."
"True," he agreed, shrugging. "But no one turns from the Duke of Derby, makes me look the fool by marrying a man not fit to wipe my boots. I have waited many years to hit at Anne Woodville, and that time has finally arrived. It is unfortunate that my son is such a failing, and therefore has to be used in such a scheme, but I always win, and it is time everyone knew this, no matter how many years pass where they think they are safe from my ire." No one bests the Duke of Derby. No one.
- Mistaken Identity
- Class Difference
- Regency Romance