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Surrender to the Duke (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 6) (Ebook)

Surrender to the Duke (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 6) (Ebook)

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Surrendering to the Duke will be easy. Not losing her heart to him is another matter entirely…

Miss Lila York should have refused her sister’s request. But since she didn’t, she’s now in the unfortunate position of traveling to London, pretending to be her sister, and rejecting a man—a man she’s long coveted from afar for herself. If only saying no was as easy as everyone seems to think…

Knox King knew it was time to set aside his rakish ways and finally settle into marriage. Miss York, the season’s diamond, would be a perfect bride. But it’s clear she’s not being totally honest with him. And if there’s one thing he can’t abide, it’s a liar…even if she’s the most desirable liar he’s ever met…

When secrets are revealed and truths are spilled, is happily ever after even possible for Knox and Lila? Or will their potential future crumble to ashes before their eyes?

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Grafton, 1810

"Harlow? What are you doing home?" Lila asked her sister as she strode into the front parlor of their modest country home, valise in one hand and pelisse in the other. Two footmen followed, carrying a large trunk upstairs.
"I've left London. The Season was too hectic, even for me, and I find it no longer holds my attention, so I wanted to come home and visit Mama and Papa." Harlow dropped her valise at her feet, the heavy bag making Lila start. "How are they, Lila? Has their health improved?" her sister asked, glancing up toward the first floor as if that would give her more insight.
"They are much improved and will soon be well enough to leave their room. I should think in the next week or so they’ll return to their normal duties," Lila said, sitting back on the settee and picking up the knitting she was working on before her sister's arrival home. "I'm hoping Father will be well enough to look at the ledgers. The accounts are piling up, too much for even me to keep abreast."
"That is concerning, but very good about their health." Harlow came and sat across from her, slumping inelegantly on the settee, staring at the unlit hearth. "You must go to London, take my place in society, and finish the Season for me," she blurted, matter-of-fact.
"Me?" Lila stared at her. Had her sister lost her mind? "What do you mean to go to London and finish the Season for you?"
"Well," Harlow hedged. "Travel to town and pretend that you're me. We're the same height and wear the same size dresses, shoes, and gloves, and we are always getting muddled here in Grafton as to which one we are. You could return, and no one would be the wiser."
"But I do not want another Season. I had two, and they were all disasters. I was not as elegant as you, and they would see through my facade straightaway." She shook her head, the idea enough to make her head spin. "You are so silly to even think of such a plan."
Her sister sighed, slapping the settee cushion with her gloved hands. "You must return and let Lord Billington down gracefully for me, for I did not have the heart to do so."
"Lord Billington is after your hand?"' Lila dropped her knitting, her sister gaining her full attention. She had met his lordship at her best friend and now the Duchess of Derby's wedding several years ago. He was a handsome man, kind and honest. She doubted many did not want to marry a man like his lordship.
Well, she had met him and had fallen spontaneously in love. Not that he even knew she breathed air on this world. The thought of his affections directed at Harlow twisted pain deep inside her, and she cringed. "Whyever do you not wish for Lord Billington's affections?" she asked, not quite sure she wanted to know. Not if she were to hear they merely had a disagreement and would soon be at rights again.
Her sister huffed out an annoyed breath and glared at her. "There are many gentlemen who have courted me this Season, and they are all very polite and what one may want in a husband, but I do not feel anything for Lord Billington. He does not make my heart race as it should. But I also cannot be cruel. Lord Billington, I believe, is on the cusp of asking for my hand, and I will feel so flawed to let him down."
Lila gaped at Harlow, not quite believing her sister's reasoning for this absurd plan. "And so you'll have me return to town, pretend I am you to let him down gently. You know I'm not capable of pretending anything. I'm a terrible actress, and you're much more delicate and ladylike than me. It is one of the reasons why your Season has been a success and mine have been two utter failures."
Her sister pushed up from the settee, coming to kneel before her. "Lila, please help me. I do not want to return to London. And if we set your hair just as I have mine, and you wear my gowns, no one will be the wiser. Everyone says we look like twins here in Grafton and Lord Billington, as much as he pretends to be interested in me, is only so because I’m the diamond of the Season. He will never know the difference."
"You forget that Hailey is in town, and she will see through my ruse and call me out on this flawed plan."
Lila shook her head, grinning. "Ah, but I have thought of that too. You must ask Her Grace to go along with our plan."
"Our plan. Your plan, you mean," she corrected.
"Fine." Her sister rolled her eyes. "My plan. And ask her to keep your secret for just the last few weeks of the Season. When you explain the reasons why she will understand."
Lila raised her brows. "No, she will not. She will think it as bad as I do. I will not involve her grace."
Harlow waved her concerns aside. "And you never know, Lila, maybe your time in London will be fruitful."
"Or I could be exposed as the fraud that I am to play and be ruined, and you along with me. Have you thought about that? People will think us a terrible family should they ever find out we played them all for fools."
Harlow took her hands, holding them tight. "Please, Lila. I cannot face Billington. I want to remain here with Mama and Papa. I want one more Season before I choose whom I will marry."
"Is there a reason you do not wish for Billington's suit? Has he been forceful or overstepped polite boundaries? What is troubling you really, Harlow?" Lila asked. There had to be more behind her sister's hasty removal from town. But what?
Her sister chewed her bottom lip, unable to meet her eye. "I love another, and he does not know that I even exist, but I will not marry merely anyone to secure a match. I will be a wallflower and old maid if I have to, so long as I do not make the disastrous mistake of marrying the wrong man."
Tears pooled in her sister's eyes, and Lila patted her hand, hating to see her upset. "Very well, I will go to town and make things right with Billington. We shall sort out the dresses tonight, and you will give me any outstanding invitations you have received. I will return to town for the next several weeks and settle everything amicably, so there is no ill will between Billington and yourself."
"You will?" Her sister met her eyes, hope drying up her tears. "Thank you so much, Lila. You are the best sister anyone could ever ask for. I do not know how to thank you."
Harlow sat beside her and pulled her into a fierce hug. "No one will know that you're not me. We even have the same freckle on our lip."
"Except on opposite sides of our mouths, Harlow," Lila mentioned.
Harlow waved her concerns aside. "No one will remember such a minor detail. All will be well, and you'll soon be home, and I shall prepare for next year's Season where I am determined to make Lord Kemsley see me this time, not ignore me as he has been doing. Frightful man."
"Maybe he is not the man for you. He should see you already, try to court you now if he has any interest. How could he not when you're so lovely and eligible?"
"Yes, but we're gentry, not nobility. Even our friends, the Woodvilles, have a little nobility in their bloodline, but we do not. All I have is my inheritance, same as yours, but that was not enough to garner you any offers."
Her sister's words cut a wound that had never healed. Her Seasons had been days and nights of nothing spectacular at all. How she had longed to be a success. To return home and declare to her family she had made a grand match. She had been a failure and not much else. "Except Lord Billington did not seem to mind such truths. Are you sure you wish to cut him free of your ties?" Lila asked again. As much as she admired Billington, he had not courted her when she was in London, and she could not stand in the way of her sister's happiness, not if Billington was whom she wanted and this whole game was a ploy to get him to fall even further in love with her.
"I do not want him as my husband. He is handsome, rich, everything a woman would want in a husband, but I do not get butterflies in my stomach when I look at him. In fact, I may as well be looking at a brick wall for all the emotion I feel. I may even feel more for the wall than I do his lordship."
Lila rolled her eyes, shaking her head at her sister's words. "You have made yourself clear. I will return to London tomorrow to save your hide. But this is the last time, Harlow. The next time a gentleman shows interest in you, and you do not have the heart to let him down nicely, neither will I. You will have to do it yourself or forever remain in hiding. Are we understood?" Lila stated, her words brooking no argument.
"I understand, and I concur. But you will see, Lila. There will not be another such situation. The next time I'm in London, I will win Lord Kemsley's heart and have all I want."
"Let us hope that is so," Lila declared.
Her sister stood and flounced toward the stairs. "I will go and see Mama and Papa now and have your maid prepare your bags." Harlow stopped on the first step of the stairs, her visage serious all of a sudden. "I do appreciate this, Lila. You are the best of sisters."
Lila slumped back on the settee, not feeling like the best of sisters. She already felt like a liar, an imposter who had to notify an upstanding, genuine gentleman she did not want to marry him. The things she did for her sister. Never again. This would be the last time.

Main Tropes

  • Mistaken Identity
  • Wallflower
  • Regency Romance
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