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On a Wild Duke Chase (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 2) (Ebook)

On a Wild Duke Chase (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 2) (Ebook)

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The game is on, and she intends to fight dirty. But then again, so does he…

Duke Dillon Viscount Leigh has secrets. The fact that his estate is nearly broke is merely one of them. So, he needs to marry an heiress and fast. The house party would’ve been the perfect place to find one, too—if only a certain noisy, stubborn, and entirely too beautiful miss hadn’t made it her mission to thwart him.

Isla Woodville liked Lord Leigh when she met him. But that changed the moment she overheard his requirements for a bride. Well, if he thinks he’s going to marry an heiress for nothing more than her deep pockets, he’s in for a rude awakening, because Isla will not let him get away with such cruelty. And she’ll enjoy every minute she spends ruining his not-so-noble intentions.

But when a kiss as passionate as it is untimely brings their game of cat and mouse to a fiery tipping point, Duke is forced to offer marriage to the last woman he ever expected—Isla. Is happily ever after even an option for two sworn enemies? Duke and Isla are about to find out…

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Woodville House, 1805

Isla Woodville threw rose petals at her sister Hailey, now the Duchess of Derby, as she ran through the line of family and friends with her new husband, both of them laughing and smiling in their joy. The duke and duchess were not to depart Northumberland for the continent and the wonderful, jealousy-inducing honeymoon until after the wedding breakfast.
Isla dabbed at her cheeks, unable to fathom that her eldest sister would no longer be living with them. That they would no longer share a room, ride about the estate, swim, and play in the river as they had done so many times growing up.
She was a duchess now, a wife, and no matter how happy Isla was for her, the lump in her throat would not dissipate.
Her younger sister—in Isla’s opinion taller and much more handsome than any of the other Woodville sisters—hugged her. They stared wistfully at the ducal carriage as it pulled away from the church and started back toward their home. "Can you believe it, Isla? Our sister is a duchess. The horror of it all."
Isla frowned up at Julia, wondering what on earth she was talking about. "You cannot mean that. Hailey is the happiest, and I daresay one of the luckiest women in England right at this moment. She fell in love with a farmhand and somehow kissed him, and he turned into a duke. Not many would be so lucky."
"Yes," Julia agreed, her tone mocking. "But do you not see? It increases our chances of making grand matches as she did. And I do not know about you, but have you seen the gentlemen here this morning? A lot of popinjays if you ask me."
Isla looked about and pursed her lips. Those in attendance were all very fine and much more handsomely dressed than they all were, even though her family did not lack monetarily. But mayhap, in London next Season, they ought to reside in Cheapside and not Mayfair just to be certain no one realized just how well-situated each Woodville sister was.
"Very well, I agree. They all look terribly dull, but as they are His Grace's friends, we owe him the honor of being kind and speaking to every one of them. It would not hurt, I suppose, not to make enemies of any of them, especially since I'm to have a Season next year, and you will follow me soon after."
Julia slouched. "Urgh, do not remind me. Mama has already expressed ways in which to make me appear shorter. Bar cutting off my legs, I do not see any of her ideas as successful."
Isla laughed, pulling her sister to where the family carriage was waiting. She jumped up without assistance from Thomas, who held out his hand. "No need, Thomas. I'm quite capable, I assure you."
Their old retainer, who had been in their employ for many years, grinned at Isla before helping Julia up. "I do hope Mama and Papa are not long. Mother seems to be making the most of all the London ton being here today."
"Well, it is highly unlikely that they will be so again." Her sister Hailey would, of course, host house parties and have to entertain the duke's friends, her friends now too, she supposed, but they would not. They would settle back into their quiet country life and wait for the next London Season. That was enough change that was to come. Now that her sister was a duchess, their ranks had increased, and they would be looked upon more favorably in the ton.
Not to mention that because of her mama, once known as Lady Anne, the Earl of Smithfield's daughter and newly returned to take her place in society, they would not escape being thrown into the paths of such as the gentlemen who were here today.
Finally, after a little time, their parents made their way toward the carriage, their smiles making Isla grin. They were so happy for Hailey, and they loved the duke. He had won over all their hearts with his love for their sister. One could not be anything but overjoyed by their marriage.
"Assist me, Thomas," her mama asked as they bustled up to the carriage. They settled across from them, pleased smiles on both their faces. "Your younger sisters have decided to walk home, which I have agreed to since the service was so very long. They will be home in time to see Hailey and the duke off."
"You mean the Duke and Duchess of Derby, Mama," Isla said as the carriage lurched forward.
"Oh, how well that sounds. My dear daughters, you two are next, and I think that since you're such a tall girl, Julia, you shall debut with Isla. You are, after all, twenty next year, and Isla will be one and twenty. A debut together will save money, and we must make the most of your sister's new popularity in town. It will possibly mean you both will make fine matches."
Julia huffed beside her, staring out the carriage window.
Isla knew there was little point in arguing with her mama. When she had her mind made up, there would be little to say or do that would sway her. No doubt she was as headstrong as her father the earl was rumored to have been.
"Let us hope that we find a match that is as loving as Hailey has found. An honorable man who cares for his wife more than anything else. That would be welcome enough for me," Isla added.
"Of course," her father agreed, winking at her.
Isla let the rocking carriage lull her a moment, enjoying the quiet while they had some before the wedding breakfast began.
"I heard that Viscount Billington is holding a house party next week and has been giving out invitations to those at the wedding that he is acquainted with. A house party to celebrate the end of the Season, apparently."
Isla had met Viscount Billington, and he was a pleasant-enough gentleman. However, the idea of a house party with the majority of people at this wedding made Isla shudder in revulsion. She did not want to go anywhere until she was forced to next year.
"Mayhap, you may be invited, Isla."
"Me?" she said, louder than she ought. "Why on earth would he invite me? I do not even know him all that well, other than the fact he is Derby's friend."
"That is exactly why I would think you will receive an invitation." Her mother sent her a pointed stare. "It would do you good to go, and you may take Molly with you. Now that your sister is a duchess, we must make improvements where we can, and I have hired more staff to help upstairs."
"I will not know anyone, Mama. Hailey will not be in attendance as they'll be traveling to Paris soon. Please do not make me go. I wanted to spend the last of the warm weather at home with my family." Reading and keeping away from everyone, just as she preferred. Not traipsing about England in search of a house party where she knew no one and doubted anyone would pay her any mind without Hailey and the duke being by her side.
"You will be welcomed with open arms, and I shall make sure you will not be ignored if you do receive an invitation. Do not worry, my dear. It will all work out well."
The carriage turned into Woodville House's drive, and glancing out the window, she could see the duke's highly polished carriage parked in front of the house. "How long do you think the wedding breakfast will take?" she asked, not wanting to sound too eager to disappear. Still, the week had been chaotic with her sister's marriage preparations. All she wanted was to curl up on her bed, read her latest novel she had purchased and had posted from London, The Italian from Mrs. Radcliffe, and nap whenever she felt the urge.
"Several hours, although I do not think Hailey and Derby will be here that long. They will be traveling to Kent so he may introduce her to his staff and their new home."
From what Hailey had told her, it was impressive indeed and only one estate of many. However would her sister manage so many properties and the London town house? Just the thought of such a position made her head ache. When would her sister get time to read books if she had to order dinner, parties, keep housemaids in hand, and have babies? It was a dreadful bore if anyone bothered to ask Isla. Not that anyone did.
She may enjoy romance novels and gothic tales of spies and highwaymen, but she did not want to live a life of such excitement. A sedate, country gentleman would do her very well. Mayhap Mr. Bagshaw had a brother who could turn his attention to her now that his sibling was married.
Or maybe she could just remain a spinster and not marry at all and have adventure and excitement only in her mind.

Main Tropes

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Country House Party
  • Regency Romance
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