The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife

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  • Edition: Original
  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2009-10-27
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
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The "USA Today"-bestselling author of "A Wicked Lord at the Wedding" delivers a new historical romance in her lighthearted and delicious Regency series. Original.

Author Biography

Jillian Hunter is the author of twenty critically acclaimed novels, among them the bestselling Boscastle series. She has received several awards, including the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three daughters.


Chapter One

“I agree with you,” replied the stranger;

“we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up . . .”

Mary Shelley


The Scarfield Academy for Young Ladies

London, England


It had taken Miss Harriet Gardner two years of intensive training in the polite graces to become that mysterious creation known in Society as a gentlewoman. It took the stormy young Duke of Glenmorgan less than two days to undo months of discipline, of tears, of sweat, of French lessons, to reawaken every gutter instinct Harriet had fought to subdue.

The foundress of the elite academy for young ladies where Harriet was now gainfully employed would not be pleased. In fact, Emma Boscastle, the former Lady Lyons and current Duchess of Scarfield, would be the first to remind Harriet that a gentlewoman would sooner be caught in a swoon than in a sweat. Horses sweat. Gentlemen perspired. And ladies glowed, albeit only after a vigorous cotillion or lively ride through the park at the fashionable hour. Certainly a lady of the academy did not draw attention to this unfortunate bodily function. She merely applied her fan with a little more energy than usual. A well-bred lady should never speak of whatever embarrassment befell her at all.

Which was why no one at the academy ever mentioned that its foundress had abandoned every rule in her own book when she unexpectedly fell in love.

A handsome duke tended to wield a devastating effect upon even ladies who believed themselves to be above temptation. The Duchess of Scarfield’s lapse in love’s name, however, did not excuse those she had tutored from their obligations. Harriet would battle forth as her creator had intended.

For two years she had devoted herself to the study of deportment. She had turned down the dancing master’s marriage proposal. She had laughed at the footman’s clumsy effort at courtship.

Two grueling years, mind you, for everyone involved in her social edification. Days of rehearsing the nuances of proper behavior until curtsying to an earl came as easily to her as cutting a purse once had. Evenings spent practicing dictation until her tongue went numb.

“How many times do I have to remind you not to drop your aspirates, Harriet?”

“And how many times do I ’ave to tell you I ain’t never dropped my—what you said—in my life?”

She cringed to think of what an utter ignoramus she had appeared.

Certainly Harriet’s colorful past was not a Crown secret. But the fact that she had been rescued from the slums and had risen to the position of fledging instructress in the exclusive academy proved that one could indeed fashion a little monster into a suitable member of Society.

For, in a fond if morbid way, she regarded herself to be less a lady and more like the ill-fated fiend created in the recently published sensation Frankenstein. Having come late in life to the pleasures of literature, she took secret delight in comparing her own re-creation to that of Victor’s hideous being. Not that Harriet planned to end up on a sled in the Arctic. A mate would be nice, though. That’s all the misunderstood monster wanted.

Indeed, she hoped one day to meet the anonymous author and confess how the queer parts of Harriet’s own nature had been similarly redesigned as a social experiment, not by a mad scientist but rather by a genius of the genteel arts. Harriet had been the academy’s first charity case. Several others had been accepted since. This practice might have discouraged enrollment had the school not achieved unprecedented success in marrying off its graduates, known as the Lionesses of London, to numerous noblemen highly ranked on the marriage mart. One teacup, one viscount at a time, the girls of the academy were unleashed upon S

Excerpted from The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife by Jillian Hunter
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