NEVER A BRIDE – Megan Frampton
A Duke's Daughters Novel – Book 4
Inside a pub near the docks, Captain Griffith Davies is drinking with some men from his ship when a woman he clearly recognizes as upper class enters the bar. She is beautiful, brave, and seemingly unaware of the danger in which she has placed herself. He attempts to help her when the Royal Navy Police enter, identify him, and arrest him. His last action onboard his own ship in freeing some men off a slave ship was against navy protocol. Griffith is in a cell when he hears someone demanding he be released because he is Viscount Stanbury and cannot be held. He recognizes the voice of his friend Robson from before he escaped from his noble family twelve years ago at age sixteen. Griffith learns his uncle the duke is dead, as is his father, and his other best friend and cousin, Frederick, is now the Duke of Northam, but Frederick is dying. Griffith needs someone to show him the intricacies of high society because he will be the next duke.
Just as Lady Della Howlett discovers the man she wants to talk to is right before her, he is arrested. The very tall, broad-shouldered, and handsome captain had her best friend Sarah Wattings' husband onboard three years ago but he has been missing ever since. Della is determined to find Davies and track him down to learn what he knows. Lady Della Howlett's parents shun her. She ran away with her dancing master and had a daughter out of wedlock before the scoundrel stole her jewelry and left her. Sarah's husband didn't discard her, yet h and Della's situations are similar. They live together, each having a daughter and struggling to support her family. Della's sisters found her and have re-established relationships, but nothing can repair Della's sullied reputation.
Della and Griffith make a deal. Neither one wants to get married, but Griffith needs someone to help him avoid becoming a husband hunter's target while guiding him through upper class society. Della will do that if Griffith finds Mr. Wattings. As a bonus she can re-visit and maybe re-establish herself in society.
Of course these two social rebels find themselves attracted, and a ruined woman like Della is only too eager to experience sexual satisfaction once again, so between tempestuous arguments there are some very heated love scenes. Della is not a typical do-what-you're - told society woman; matter of fact, she demands Griffith let her make her own decisions. Griffith likes this wild and determined woman, but he was a ship's captain and used to making decisions and giving orders. Though both say they don't want marriage, will they change their minds?