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Once Upon a Duke by Sandra Masters

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  • Serena, an artist and widow, has no desire for another husband. When she meets Geoffrey Austen, attraction sizzles to a scorch. Stolen days and nights ignite forbidden passion. Geoffrey asks Serena to be his mistress, but she wants commitment, love, and marriage, not an affair with a notorious rake.
        Geoffrey realizes Serena might be the one woman who can care for his tortured soul, and maybe release his demons. The magic they shared is shattered when he learns she has been forced into an engagement with another. He vows to save her even at the cost of his own life.
        Will Geoffrey’s gallantry prove he truly loves Serena?
     If he survives, will Serena surrender all to him?

    Excerpt:

    “Lord Austen, I know my brother’s horses, and your animal is not familiar.” She hoped to steer the conversation in another direction. Her stomach quivered, uneasy.

    “Solomon is mine. He is an Arabian and strong-willed like his master. It takes a firm hand to control him, but he flies like the wind.”

    “Your pride is evident.” Serena gestured toward her horse. “My mare is Sheba. She is also high-spirited. We are a good match as well. Perhaps we should consider mating?”

    Had she actually said that? Nerve endings tingled, warmth flooded her.

    Lord Austen arched a brow. “Were you referring to our mounts, or do I dare hope you meant their owners?” His suggestion was wicked.

    Serena stopped pacing long enough to meet his direct gaze. “My lord, you disappoint with your practiced words.” She wanted to look away, but curious, dared to ask, “Are you available?” How had the brazen words escaped her lips?

    “I could be, for the right woman.”

    “Do you have criteria?” There she was, egging him on again. Why was the man so hypnotic?

    “Perhaps one could say my only requirement is the effect she would have on my sensibilities.” His smile held a salacious bent.

    “How are your sensibilities today?” She continued to play the game and resumed her restless pacing.

    He walked to his horse and ran his hand over the silky flesh of its neck. “I would demand to sample the offerings. Do you agree?” Lord Austen turned to her and continued to stroke the stallion in a slow deliberate manner.

    Serena took a deep breath and tried to quell her rapid heartbeat. She shivered as if he caressed her skin, his fingers working their magic.

    His eyes refused to leave hers. His lips curved sensuously. “Are you about to offer me something?”

    She returned to her seat. “I am not familiar with breeding rights. Do we still speak of the horses?” Serena eyed the man and his steed. “How magnificent, a fine specimen.”

    “Yes, I agree, or are you a woman who desires to dabble in double entendres? I would say you contemplate the splendid creature before you.” Lord Austen’s stance was presumptive with his feet wide apart, one hand held his riding crop at his hip. “I do not know which of us you mean.”

    “Perhaps you will figure it out, Lord Austen,” she flirted back.

    Serena noted the twinkle in his blue eyes, as his full dimpled smile emerged. She had a sudden desire to touch that arrogant face. What was it about this man? Her gaze centered on a straight scar down his right cheek. It intrigued her.

    “Allow me to explain,” Lord Austen laughed. “You see, I am considered quite unsuitable for marriage to most respectable ladies. My reputation precedes me, in part because I allow it. The rest is a fabrication of gossip I refuse to dispel.”

    “You are a true rogue? Should I be worried? Are you good at your craft? I am told that a man with a rake’s soul can be a dangerous excitement.”

    “So many questions, my lady, which require a thoughtful response. Let me say I have had no complaints.”

    “It grieves me to wound you, but since I have not heard about you or your notoriety, could it be possible we do not travel in the same social circles? Should I swoon and fall at your feet? Perhaps I do not find you irresistible.”

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Once Upon a Duke

Once Upon a Duke

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