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Only a Duke Will Do (To Marry a Rogue, Book 2) (Ebook)

Only a Duke Will Do (To Marry a Rogue, Book 2) (Ebook)

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Without a Season, Lady Isolde Worthingham captured the Duke of Moore's heart at a country dance. But on the eve of her wedding, a scandal that rocked the ton and sent her fleeing to Scotland alone and unwed, leaves her perfectly planned future in a tangle of disgrace and heartbreak.

Merrick Mountshaw, the Duke of Moore loathes the pitiful existence he hides from the ton. With a scandalous wife he never wanted, who flaunts her many indiscretions, life is a never-ending parade of hell. When the one woman he loved and lost returns to London, he knows he can no longer live without her.

But vows and past hurts are not easily forgotten. Love may not win against the ton when a too proper Lord and Lady play by the rules.

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Mountshaw Estate, Wiltshire 1805

Isolde Worthingham, the second eldest daughter of the Duke of Penworth, spooned syllabub into her mouth and grinned at her betrothed, a man she had known for only one year, yet it felt like she’d known him her entire life. Merrick Mountshaw, the fourth Duke of Moore, was a gentle soul, much like herself, and suited her more than she’d ever dreamed. So much so it was almost like they’d been made for each other.
He smiled back, his eyes sparkling with humor. How was it that in only a few hours they would be married, finally promised to each other before God and all those they cared for most in the world.
Excitement thrummed through Isolde’s veins. She’d waited for what seemed forever for this day to arrive. How lucky she was to be marrying for love, something that she and her sisters had promised to uphold after witnessing such a union from their parents’ own match.
And she had found it with Merrick. The last dinner together as an unmarried couple carried on around them, and was enjoyable and hearty. The conversation was of nothing but the forthcoming nuptials and the joining of two great families of southern England. The event of the Season some said.
It did not surprise her that the wedding was titled as such, with half of London having traveled to Mountshaw, Merrick’s ancestral home, to attend. Everyone who was anyone would see them state their vows, their promises to each other, tomorrow. She couldn’t wait.
Merrick took her hand, pulling her from her thoughts, placing a lingering kiss on the inside of her wrist. Warmth spread across her cheeks, and she bit her lip.
“I cannot concentrate on this dessert when there is something all the more delectable at table,” he whispered, leaning close.
She laughed, looking about and hoping no one heard his words. “You tease, Your Grace.”
“With you, I tell only the absolute truth.” He smiled and answered a question from her brother Josh across from her. It was always pleasant sitting next to Merrick. In fact, she preferred it to the other end of the table, where she would hardly be able to see him between all the fruit and flower arrangements lining the great expanse. And if she sat away from him from tomorrow onward, she wouldn’t have the delightful feeling of his boot rubbing up against her silk slipper.
There is no hope for the man. I’ve ruined him.
She inwardly chuckled at the thought. Once one of Town’s most-loved rogues, Merrick had been quite a sought- after gentleman, not that Isolde had known anything about him until last year, when they’d met. She watched as he spoke with her brother about having some celebratory drinks after the women retired. Merrick was animated in conversation; his strong jaw teased her to stroke it, to drag him down for a kiss by lips that still distracted her when she looked at him. He was, in her estimation, perfect.
And she loved him so very much. He enjoyed life and all it offered, always imagined the best of any bad situation. The duke cared for his friends as much as his tenant farmers and staff. He was unlike anyone she’d ever known. The best of men.
Isolde sipped her champagne, the bubbles tickling her tongue, and the day’s tension slipped away as the dinner progressed. Everything was ready for the wedding. The flowers were set, the trestle tables were on the lawn, waiting for the servants to set them for the wedding breakfast tomorrow morning. Her trunks sat packed in the entrance foyer for their trip to the Continent, and her wedding gown hung against her armoire. All Isolde had to do was try not to blubber uncontrollably as she promised her heart and soul to the man beside her, something she would absolutely fail at.
Isolde leaned over toward him, gaining his attention. “Must you, Merrick? I can hardly concentrate on this meal as it is, never mind having your foot dancing along my leg.”
“It is only fair, as I’ve not been able to concentrate for months.” He winked, picking up his glass of wine and taking a sip. She watched him, entranced when he licked a droplet of the drink off his lips. He caught her watching him, and understanding dawned in his gaze, hot and full of promises.
He picked up her hand and kissed her fingers, paying homage to the square diamond he’d given her in celebration of their betrothal. The ring had been his grandmother’s, and now it was hers, and God willing, their son’s wife, one day.
Heat pooled in her belly with the tantalizing stroke of his mouth against her body. The thought of the wedding night left her breathless, and she took a fortifying sip of champagne.
“I love you,” he said, loud enough for all to hear the endearment.
“And I you.” Her response was automatic, natural, and she blessed the day her best friend, Miss Hart, had introduced them at a country dance one year earlier. From that day forward, Merrick had been attentive and unrelenting in his pursuit of her, and she reveled in the fact she’d brought to heel one of London’s devilish rogues.
Her father, the Duke of Penworth, cleared his throat, watching them with mirth. Her dearest papa all but glowed with pride. “I would like to propose a toast to the Duke and the future Duchess of Moore. May your life be full of love, good health, and happiness.”
Her father smiled, and she noted the sheen of unshed tears in his eyes. He’d always been an emotional man, and they loved him all the more for it. “Moore has proven himself this past year to be a determined and honorable young man, and was I not assured he’ll do nothing but strive to make my beautiful daughter happy, I would not have allowed the union to go on. But tonight my heart is full and joyful. Isolde has chosen well. It fills me with contented pleasure knowing you will forever be safe and blissful. So please raise your glass to the future Duke and Duchess of Moore.”
The chorus of cheers burst from the table, and Isolde smiled at Merrick when he kissed her hand a second time. She looked around the long, marvelously decorated table, smiling her thanks to all her family and the few close friends who were present.
Her gaze halted on her best friend, Miss Leonora Hart— Letty to her. A frown marred her usually perfect forehead, and her lips were thin with displeasure. Letty looked distracted, worried even, and Isolde paused, promising to find out what ill her friend was feeling before the night came to an end.
Perhaps it was because Isolde was about to be married and Letty wasn’t going to have a Season in Town due to finances at home. Her father, the local vicar back in Surrey, was not fluid in funds, and had refused the Duke of Penworth’s offer to give his daughter a Season. Isolde had thought his decision very unkind, and unfair for Letty, and not being able to help had made the situation even more frustrating. And Letty’s father’s decision was final. He was not a vicar swayed by persuasion.
She would speak to her father again about the situation before she left for her wedding trip to Paris and Switzerland. Letty was practically her sister, after all, having known each other since they’d been in braids. There was nothing Isolde didn’t want more for her friend than to have the happiness she herself had right at this moment with Merrick.
Finally, the dinner came to an end and the men stayed behind for their port and cheroots. Isolde made her way to the withdrawing room, ready for the night to be over so the next day could finally begin. Her wedding day… How amazing that sounded.

Main Tropes

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Past Love
  • Regency Romance
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