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Every Duke has a Silver Lining (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 4) (Ebook)

Every Duke has a Silver Lining (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 4) (Ebook)

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He can't deny her anything...except maybe his heart...

Ashley Woodville didn't mean any harm when she broke into Grady Kolten's office. It was only a dare from her friends. She wasn't supposed to get caught. And she certainly wasn't supposed to talk the notorious gaming hell owner (and disturbingly sexy rogue) into showing her London's wilder side. Falling for him? Also not part of the dare. But she did it anyway. All of it...

Grady has no interest in indulging the whims of a bored (if admittedly alluring) debutante. But the idea of her stumbling inadvertently into danger doesn't sit well with him, either. So, he'll take part in her ridiculous escapades and do his best to keep his emotional distance. It should be easy, considering how entirely unsuitable they are. Too bad he can't seem to remember any of that when she's in his arms...

She's never met a challenge she wouldn't accept. But will the walls around Grady's heart—and the dark secrets of his past—be too much for even the daring Ashley to conquer?

Read a Sample

London Season, 1808

Ashley glanced out the carriage window and frowned, her stomach in knots, her head spinning over what she was supposed to do. She glanced back at her friends seated across from her, their wide, laughing eyes no support or help.
"I cannot do this. What if I'm caught! If any gentleman who knows my family or recognizes me tells, I'll be ruined."
"You lost the bet," Anna stated, throwing her a disapproving look. Her closest friend in London, Lady Anna, was always up to no good and seemed to get away with it more often than not. Probably because she was an earl’s daughter, and no one suspected the lady to be as wicked as she was.
But Lady Anna was not so innocent, and this bet that Ashley lost to her was proof of that. The task was impossible, not to mention dangerous.
She groaned, looking out onto the darkened street again, seeing several gentlemen enter the premises several houses down the dark lane. A gentleman's gaming club, or supposedly it was, so Anna stated, but Ashley was not so sure. Several women of dubious employment had entered while they had been stationed here, and she was starting to think it was more than a place for men to lose their money.
Their virginity, too, for those who had it to lose.
"If you go around the back, there will be an entrance. My brother told me so during one of his nights of revelry when he was still in his cups and told me all he got up to." Anna laughed. "Upstairs, you will find the office and subsequent desk of Grady Kolten. The bastard Duke of Blackhaven, or he will be when he inherits from his father."
The name sounded as ominous as this dare. “All you need to do is take his quill, and you would have done what we all promised should any of us have lost the bet. Which," she said, raising her brow and looking down her straight nose at her, "you indeed did."
"I do not believe our little bet on cards is worth my reputation. If he catches me, he could drag me back to Mayfair by the ear and throw me before the duke. Or worse, demand my brother-in-law hand over blunt to release me. There are a million ways this could go wrong."
Ashley chewed the end of her glove, reconsidering this night and her three friends who would make her do such a thing. How she wished her best friend from Grafton was in town. Daphne would know what to do.
"Do not spoil the evening," Paisley whined. "I had to steal the quill from Lady Jenkin's desk, and it had a golden tip. No doubt she will be missing it and will demand answers from her staff."
"Maybe you ought to return that," Caroline interjected. "We do not want to take anything of value from these people. Especially since this is only a game."
"Come now, Ashley. Go about the back, run upstairs, grab the quill, and be done with it. You will be in and out in five minutes, and we will not leave without you. All will be well, trust me," Anna said, her smile all innocence.
Ashley sighed, slipping the hood from her domino over her head and jumping from the carriage. Her silk slippers dampened, and she glanced down. The unmentionable puddle made her evening merely more revolting.
Slamming the carriage door and glaring at her friends, she turned and started down the lane that ran beside the gaming hell. Coming to the yard, she could see many empty wooden pallets stacked neatly around the fence. Empty wine and beer bottles stacked in neat piles. They certainly went through a lot of beverages at this venue.
She kept to the shadows as much as she could before she came to a solid-wood door. Pushing on it, she prayed it was locked, and her excursion would be over, but surprisingly it was not. It creaked, the sound like a drum as it slowly swung open before she slipped through and into the hell.
The sound of men laughing, shouts of betting on the gaming tables, and music floated through the building, but far enough away that she hoped she would not be seen. The corridor was long, and halfway down, a staircase led to the second floor. Checking she was alone, she started up the stairs and came to the top to find another corridor with rooms leading off it.
Which one would be this Grady Kolten's office? For a moment, she stood there, unsure which direction to turn, before taking a guess and heading left.
The upstairs was eerily quiet, and her stomach roiled with nerves. What would she do if anyone caught her? What would she do if the person who did find her snooping about was dangerous and caused her harm?
She stilled as a creaking board sounded behind her, and was about to flee from this nightmare of her own making when the startling cold press of metal against her neck halted even her heart.
Oh dear God, I am going to die.
"Looking for something?" a deep, gravelly voice whispered against her ear. She dared not move as the pinch of the blade stung. Had he cut her? How would she explain the mark to her family? If she ever saw them again, that was.
"I'm sorry, sir. I meant no harm. It was merely a lark—a bet. I should not be here. I should not have come," she babbled, closing her mouth to halt the panic she heard in her voice.
"Hmm," he said, taking the knife from her throat and hoisting her over his shoulder as if she weighed no more than a flour sack. He strode into a room with one window, a large desk, and several walls of shelving and slammed the door closed on her escape. Ashley sent up a final prayer to the heavens to try to get her out of this predicament. She should never have listened to her friends. She should never have come. And now, she would die in the cesspit of East London, and her family would never know why.

Grady slipped the featherlight woman off his shoulder, ignoring the sweet ass he'd gripped to hold her steady, and threw her onto the daybed, which sat beneath his office window.
He stood back, staring down at the miss, and cursed. She was a lady. The diamond earbobs told him that, if the perfectly unblemished skin and clear eyes did not. He took a calming breath, not needing such a distraction. Not tonight, in any case. He had a gaming hell to run, a life to lead. A mistress to bed. He did not need this young miss messing up his debauched plans.
"What are you doing prying about my hell? Do you even know where you are, Miss…" he asked, hoping she would give him her name.
She raised her chin, setting her hood off her head to sit on her shoulders. She patted at her dark-brown hair, checking the curls were in place while watching him with eyes that were too wide, too perfect to be true.
Damn, the idiot chit was pretty.
"I'm Ashley, and what I said upon meeting you, sir, was true. I'm here only as a lark, a game with my friends. I lost a bet, so I was sent on a mission to steal the quill off your desk. I see now the error of my way, so if you'll excuse me, I shall be going now."
She stood and went to step past him, and Grady clasped her shoulders, pushing her back onto the daybed, not quite ready to let her leave. It had been some time since he had been around such a beautiful woman of rank. He narrowed his eyes, wondering who she really was. She was not just Ashley nobody.
"And your surname, so I may inform your family of your wayward antics here this evening?"
Her eyes flew wide, and she strode over to him, taking his hands and squeezing them with more strength than he thought her capable of. "Oh no, you cannot tell my family. I will be sent home, and I'm so enjoying the Season so far. I have many suitors, and although they're as young as me, some are nice and have potential. If I'm sent home, I shall have no options for a husband, and that will never do."
Grady's lips twitched, and he cleared his throat, reminding himself that this was not an amusing situation. "You could have been raped and murdered in this part of London. Do you know how dangerous it is for a woman of your position to have snuck into a gaming hell? This could have been a dwelling of ill repute, and you could, right at this moment, be under a man who would have your skirts lifted, taking his fill. Did you think of that, Ashley?" he asked her, ignoring the pang of guilt as she flinched at his words.
He meant to be cruel. She ought to realize how dangerous her being here was. The silly little fool could have lived her last night on earth, not merely London. She could have ended up floating facedown in the Thames.
And now he had to decide what to do with her, so she did not.

Main Tropes

  • Gaming Hell
  • Notorious Rogue
  • Regency Romance
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