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Wicked in my Bed (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 10) (Ebook)

Wicked in my Bed (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 10) (Ebook)

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Synopsis

If he’s lucky, perhaps he can convince her to be wicked with him just once. Or maybe even forever…

Daphne Raven is happy with her prospective betrothed. He’ll be the perfect husband—meek, mild, and unlikely to stir any emotional chaos within her. But when she travels to London for her wedding attire, all it takes is one night at a ball (and a passionate case of mistaken identity) to shatter her faultless plans and make her question everything…

The last thing Corey Jefferson, Duke Renford, wants is a wife. A mistress will suit him—and the scars of his past—just fine. He thought the stunning mystery woman he kissed at the ball would be his ideal paramour. Until he discovered who she really was…and realized she could never be his. No matter how much he wished things were different for them…

When all is said and done, are the wicked rake and the innocent wallflower destined for happily ever after—or a lifetime of heartache?

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London 1816

Daphne stood before the mirror at Madame Laurent's modiste and adjusted the bodice of her wedding gown. She glanced down at her bosom, not the largest by any means. In fact, she probably was a good handful at best, but still, at least she had a little to fill out the elaborate embroidery Madame Laurent had stitched for her.
"You look absolutely lovely, Daph," her closest friend Ashley Woodville, now the Duchess of Blackhaven, said from a nearby settee.
Daphne met her friend's gaze in the mirror and smiled. "I'm so happy to be here with you, for some weeks at least."
"And your betrothed, what is he like? He's the vicar at Grafton, I understand. Mama wrote and told me Mr. Bagshaw had left his position, which I must say I was quite surprised by."
"Oh yes, well, his wife ran off with the baker's boy, and he could not bear to stay in the village where everyone knew what had happened. All scandalous, but Mr. Bagshaw did not deserve such treatment, even though he was a terrible bore."
Ashley chuckled, rubbing her stomach, which was showing the first roundness of a child.
Daphne took a deep breath, knowing she had to tell her friend the truth before another day passed. She stepped from before the mirror and joined her on the settee. "There is something I must admit to, but please do not judge me."
Ashley took her hands and squeezed them. "I would never judge you. You must know that."
Daphne hoped that was the case, but even so, nerves fluttered in her belly at admitting the truth. "Regarding my betrothed, well, we're not technically betrothed yet. I wish for him to propose to me. He would certainly make the most perfect husband. He is handsome and with a good living, and resides in Grafton. Perfect for my happiness, and he is not forceful or demanding, which I do not want in a husband."
Ashley stared at her for several moments before she frowned. "So … you're not betrothed? Why are you in London buying a wedding gown, new undergarments, and unmentionables if you're not engaged, Daph?"
Daphne shrugged, slumping back into the cushions on the settee in the most unladylike manner. She stared at several other young ladies looking at material across the store and tried not to recoil at their high-pitched squeals when they came across something to their liking.
"I have been hoping he would ask, and I do believe he's on the cusp of doing so. He merely needs a little push."
"A push?" Ashley repeated. "How can you push him if you're in London and he's in Grafton, pray tell?"
"Well, my thinking is that he will miss me while I'm gone, and as I have friends here in town and my very best friend is a duchess, well, that will make him even more determined to marry me when he's told all of this on Sunday's service. Mrs. Bennet will tell him. You know how much she loves gossip, and I was sure to drop into her ear where I was going. I think he will miss me while I'm gone. I normally help with the children on Sunday, teaching them letters and numbers you see, and I'll not be there. My plan is faultless. He may even travel to London to find me."
Ashley gaped, her eyes wide, and at her continual silence, Daphne fought not to cringe. Was her plan not a good one? Did her friend think she was mad? She possibly was, but at nine and twenty, it was past time to think of what she could do to find a husband and act instead. If she did not marry soon, she would be an even older maid and never have a child, and she desperately wanted a daughter or son of her own.
"So you're not engaged?" Ashley stated again.
"No, I'm not. But that does not mean I cannot be organized and prepared and order my wedding gown while I'm in London. It will mean that I can return to Grafton ready to wed within a month of the vicar asking me, and we may start our family immediately. You know how much I want to be a mama. I see how happy you are with Blackhaven, and I'm sometimes overcome with longing for the same. Please do not judge me, Ash. I could not bear it from you."
"Oh, Daph," she said, pulling her into a tight hug. "I will never judge you. I love you like a sister, and I think it's marvelous you're being so prepared. You'll have everything ready as soon as the vicar corrects his priorities and asks for your hand in marriage. I think it's most forward-thinking of you."
Daphne nodded. "I could not agree more," she said. "Now, let us finish hemming this gown, and then we shall go to Gunter's for tea. I think we've earned it after our shopping sojourn."
"Sounds perfect indeed," Ashley returned.
* * *
Corey, the Duke of Renford, sat within a secluded corner of Whites. After a night carousing London, he sipped his whisky, the amber liquid soothing his muscles, and mind.
The city was a welcome reprieve from Europe, where he had spent the majority of the past five years. Not that anyone knew of his spying for the British army, and nor would they ever, but now the war was over. England had won, and Napoleon had lost. A time to celebrate, to enjoy what London had to offer, and he would indulge his many appetites and not feel the slightest guilt over the fact.
Feminine laughter caught his attention from the bowed window, and he glanced outside and spied the Duchess of Blackhaven in deep discussion with another lady he had never seen before. The lady covered her mouth when she laughed as if she were embarrassed by doing so.
She was a pretty piece, tall and slim, with not a lot of breast, unfortunately. He sighed, clearing his throat as he watched them. The Duke of Blackhaven's carriage rolled to a stop, and Blackhaven opened the door for them, clearly in this part of town to collect them. The duke jumped to the ground and kissed his wife, not caring who saw before bussing the other lady's cheeks.
He supposed being back in London, and with the Season gaining momentum, there would be many ladies, such as the one he just viewed in town, searching for a husband, a love match that so many women craved. Not that he was interested in such unions.
He needed a mistress above anything else and would have one secured before the end of the Season. His life was complicated enough, and he did not need a wife, making it even more so.
"Renford!" The bellowing of his name made him start.
He turned to find Viscount Billington striding toward him, arms outstretched. "Damn, my good friend, it is pleasing to see you. I was not sure you would return this Season, but I'm glad to see that you have."
Renford stood and allowed Billington—his closest friend and one he had not seen for some time—to hug him. Working for the British army meant he had traveled at a day's notice sometimes. One moment he was in London, the next, Spain or France, wherever the Duke of York needed him.
But there would be no more missives in the middle of the night sending him on any more assignments. He was home now. Able to submit to whatever he wished. And he wanted to indulge a lot.
"Billington," he said, smiling. "I'm pleased to see you. Come, have a drink with me."
Billington waved over a footman and ordered two new whiskies. "I'm glad that Grand Oaks has not kept you away this year. What are your plans for the Season? We're to host a ball Thursday next. I will send an invitation this afternoon, and you must attend."
Corey laughed, having missed his friend for the many years he had worked for the army. In fact, he missed many things with his sporadic, mysterious lifestyle. The quiet of the countryside, honesty from his countrymen, living without danger or intrigue that wanted to sneak up on you at any moment. As the Duke of Renford, he was also not humble enough not to admit he enjoyed life's luxuries bestowed upon him in his position. And the women. He missed the fairer sex most of all, and he would ensure he had his fill of them before leaving town.
"No, everything is as it should be at the estate, and I'm here for the Season. I shall, of course, attend your ball." He thanked the footman and finished his whisky. "Although I'm off this evening to Dame Plaisir's masque. Do you remember the fun we've had at those?" he asked Billington. Knowing it would be years before he forgot the many sinful nights.
Billington groaned and slumped back in his chair. "Of course I remember those balls, but they're no longer for me. But I wish you well if you're attending. I'm certain you'll have a pleasurable night," he taunted.
Corey nodded, knowing he would. "I'm happy to see you're settled and married. You must introduce me to your wife. I've yet to meet the woman who brought my debauched friend to the aisle."
A look of pure bliss crossed Billington's visage, and Corey was happy for him. For some time, he did not think Billington would ever marry, and he was happy his friend had found a woman he loved.
"You will adore Lila. She is my life now," he admitted.
Corey could well believe that. "As I'm sure you are hers," he answered. "But I cannot say that I shall not miss you at Dame Plaisir's this evening, but I'm certain that I shall enjoy myself, even if you're not there."
Billington shook his head, his eyes alight with mischief. "Still the cad, I see." He paused, studying him a moment. "I gather then you're not looking for a wife?"
"Not at all," Corey admitted, knowing his friend would not take this conversation further. "A mistress, yes, but wife, no thank you."
"A mistress, hmm." Billington narrowed his eyes. "I shall have to leave that search up to you too, my friend. I'm long past those expenses."
"I'm glad that you are." He cleared his throat, folding the paper he held in his lap, and threw it onto the table before them. "But I shall give you a full account of my success. No harm in that."
Billington chuckled. "No harm at all."

Main Tropes

  • Stolen Kiss
  • Wallflower
  • Regency Romance
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