Duchess Decadence by Wendy LaCapra
Book #3 in The Furies series
Thea Worthington, Duchess of Wynchester divides her time between social engagements and playing her luck against fickle fortune. Yet every gamble is only a bluff—a means to hide from the pain deep within her, and the loss of a babe she never held in her arms. Now Thea's luck is about to run out. Her estranged husband has returned and seeks a reunion...
Plagued with guilt over what happened to his wife three years ago, the Duke of Wynchester has kept his distance. The duke is resolved to piece his family back together, especially now that he's discovered his beloved brother—long thought dead—still lives. But Thea's lovely, porcelain facade is on the verge of cracking...spurred on by the duke's brother's secretive, malevolent animosity.
With everything riding on her future, Thea plays a daring game of chance for love and her marriage...and this time, the dice are most certainly rigged.
In an invisible mind-cup, he twirled the black dice of their future. His rudderless ship could reach only one port—he had to choose. He could open to the invitation within her parted lips. They would have a second chance.
Or, he could declare her false north, and proceed as he had drunkenly resolved—the production of an heir and then a return to quietly separate lives thereafter.
The latter would keep the Wynchester title from oblivion and keep him safe from the danger in her eyes. The spirits he’d ingested burned in his stomach.
Haddon!—unbidden, a dormitory-taunt using his youth’s courtesy title rose in his mind—heard your mama died and your father married a whore. You think she likes your mama’s bed?
With determined effort he’d risen above such taunts. No one had dared besmirch the Wynchester title since he’d become the duke. No one except Thea Marie. She’d shunned him and joined her friends on the edges of respectability, leaving him a laughingstock.
I hear the duchess has a gift with cards, Wynchester. Why don’t you wager her for a night in her bed?
His cheeks grew as taut as a spring-trap. Tonight, in a manner of speaking, he’d done just as the fools suggested. Although she—not he—had issued the wager. A wager he’d won. Which meant she would have to return…and she would have to make every effort.
“I will show you,” his words came out murky and low. “I will show you.”
Her eyes grew wide. “Show me?”
He nodded, not trusting his voice for more. He had no idea—no idea—what would become of them. Between here and his black-dice future hid recriminations with teeth as sharp as iron leg-traps. All he knew was that he must show her he was—
“My dear Duke,” she said, “there is no need—”
“Yes,” he interrupted. He was her dear duke—hers to have and to hold, for better, for worse—and he was going to take her home. Now.
“I will not let you forget this time, Duchess.”
She shrieked as he swept her off her feet. She was surprisingly light for so tall and troublesome a creature.
“What,” she yelped, “do you think you are doing?”
He stalked to the door. “Open!” he yelled, as if the door itself would heed his command.
Lady Vaile swung open the door and took a swift step back. “Oh dear,” she cried. “Max!”
He strode out into the larger room, ignoring both lady and guests.
“Wynchester!” the duchess pleaded. “Good God, everyone is looking.”
“Let them sketch the image and take it to Grub Street, for all I care.” He ignored the sudden silence in the room and headed for the hall and beyond that—his carriage. “I am taking,” he said loudly, “my duchess home.”
On the far side of the room, Lady Sophia stood on her toes, stretching toward the Earl of Randolph.
Bah. First Harrison, now Randolph. And, worse, he had bet Harrison a cask of his best brandy Lord Randolph and the fiendishly pretty little Fury would never come together. Then again, losing his cask was not the worst—he swayed as he pressed onward—he’d had enough brandy for quite some time.
“Sentiment,” he spat with disgust.
“That’s it,” the duchess said with a look of pure horror, “put me down.”
Sentiment may be a weasely creature with ferret-sharp teeth, but at the moment he rather enjoyed its effects. Strength surged though his limbs and his intent was startlingly clear—bed.
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• The Accidental Duchess, by Madeline Hunter
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• Good Earl Gone Bad, by Manda Collins
• The Dukes Daring Debutante, by Ann Lethbridge
• The Love List, by Deb Marlowe
• I Spy a Duke, by Erica Monroe
• Reckless Wager + Bonus Novella Wanton Wager, by Christy Carlyle
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