A MOST UNLIKELY DUKE – Sophie Barnes
Diamonds in the Rough , Book 1
Lady Gabriella Radcliff has always been the odd one of the Earl and Lady Warwick's two daughters. She managed to follow her own interests, such as studying insects, because her older sister Victoria was the perfect one who would do the family credit among Society. At least, that was before Victoria broke her engagement to a peer and married an American in trade. Now it's up to Lady Gabriella to repair the family reputation. Her parents have picked out the highly eligible Earl of Fielding as a husband. He doesn't mind a bit; since her sister's scandal, Gabriella's dowry has doubled!
Fate has another plan in mind, however, with the ruin of two other families.
When he was eight, Rafael Matthews's once noble family came to ruin. His mother had already run away when his father died deeply in debt leaving Raphe to care for his little sisters. Raphe was able to keep them off the streets by becoming a laborer on the docks. He also came into contact with Carlton Guthrie, a powerful man in the mean streets of St. Giles, to whom his father owed money. The man made use of Raphe until now he's a bare-knuckle boxer ready to take on the world champion—with Guthrie to get the bulk of the purse, of course.
But then a chain of sudden deaths has made Raphe the ninth Duke of Huntley. With the title comes country estates, a fortune, and a mansion in London's Mayfair district . . . right next door to the Warwicks.
Gabriella and Fielding come home from a carriage ride in the park when their way is blocked by that of a rough looking man arguing with the butler next door. Fielding thinks the man must be a servant looking for a job and decides to intervene, but he makes no headway. Raphe is not impressed.
Gabriella has a kind heart, and when she—and the ton— learn the seemingly low class man next door is the duke, she determines to help the girls, Amelia and Juliette, prepare for their come-out . . . and the duke as well, though his butler, valet, and secretary are doing their best. New clothing is the easy part; speech and manners, not so much.
And hardest of all is to fight against the attraction that tantalizes both Raphe and Gabriella. He is not good enough for her and he certainly doesn't want a wife. And she has obligations to her family, which they have no hesitation to constantly remind her of. We get to see deep into their thoughts and feelings.
What starts as light and humorous turns more and more serious as the story moves along. Be sure to get in on the ground floor of this captivating new series. See if you can guess who will star in the next episode.