A Duke in Pursuit of Passion (Preview)

Chapter One

The evening was chilled, but Lady Louisa Gideon, the youngest daughter of the Earl of Partridge, barely felt it as she pressed herself close to her lover. 

The sun had set, and the moon was only beginning to rise into the sky. And save for the odd rustling of a small animal or the chirping of bugs, all was quiet. 

Sitting upon a boulder, just within the boundary of the woods that skirted her father’s estate, Louisa felt oddly at ease and content, wrapped in Joshua’s arms as he whispered into her ear, “Are you clear on what you need to do?” 

A shiver passed through Louisa, though not from the chill. It was anticipation that made her quiver, the thought that her entire life would soon change. Soon she might finally be taken seriously. 

Louisa nodded, gazing up at him, unable to stop wondering whether he could see the nervousness in her gaze. “I am.” 

Joshua smiled back at her, his dark blonde hair falling around his face like curtains to cut them off from the outside world. He brushed a few tight curls back from her face to cup her cheek. Kissing her, he added, “Then you’ll meet me back here at what time?” 

“Two a.m.,” Louisa breathed back against his lips, the response barely audible as she tilted her head slightly to invite further kissing. 

When he did not do so, Louisa could not stop admitting, “I am quite nervous.” 

Nuzzling her nose with his own, he pressed his forehead against hers and responded, “You need not be nervous. You are doing the right thing. This is the only way we shall ever be allowed to be together.” 

In the dark and the cold, his words warmed her, and she knew he was right. One fear lingered in the back of her mind: will my family ever forgive me? 

It didn’t bear thinking about, and so she quickly forced it away. She could deal with those consequences when it was too late to change anything. They would understand – eventually.

Needing just a little more reassurance, she asked, “You’re sure this is the only way?” 

Louisa was surprised by the way that Joshua gripped hold of her face in both his hands. So shocked, in fact, that her blue eyes flew open, and she found his face so close to hers that if he had been anyone else, she might have been frightened. 

“I would not ask you to take such a risk if I was not absolutely certain,” Joshua assured her. “We must do this. We must fight for our love.” 

Louisa gulped past the sudden lump in her throat and nodded with a little difficulty against his hands upon her face. 

“You will meet me, won’t you?” Joshua asked, his brown gaze darkening with suspicion. His look caused Louisa’s skin to crawl. She hated it when he did not trust her word. 

“Of course, I promise,” she told him in all sincerity, hoping he could see the affection she held for him in her gaze. 

The darkness in his eyes faded, and his lips twitched upwards in a smile. Kissing her again, this time much more deeply, he made her heart skip a beat. Leaning into it, Louisa took in every second as though it were the very air she breathed. And when he pulled away, she felt the gnawing of disappointment in her stomach. 

The barking of a fox somewhere close by caused Louisa to almost jump right out of her skin. 

“You must go,” Joshua insisted with his forehead pressed to hers once more, seemingly unphased by the fox. “Go and pack. Before anyone notices you are gone.”

“Yes, I must,” Louisa agreed, glancing through the trees at the moon that had begun to rise, almost having reached the top of the canopy. It seemed to wash over them, bathing them in its light as though proud of the two lovers for finally plucking up the courage to do what others dare not. 

It would be dinner soon, and if she were late, everyone would wonder why. Yet, the risk of being questioned was quite enough to hurry her away from Joshua. She would have happily sat there with him all night, her head rested upon his chest so she could listen to their hearts beating as one. 

Reluctantly, Louisa plucked herself up from the boulder beside him, and only his hand upon hers stopped her from hurrying away so as not to allow herself to linger any longer. 

Her flesh tingled where he pressed his lips to her knuckles. The way he gazed up at her, following the line of her arm, made her tremble all over. The look in his eyes suggested he was hungry for something, and she knew very well how he felt. The anticipation building deep inside her was growing harder and harder to ignore. The desire building between them for weeks would soon be quenched as long as everything went to plan. 

“Just remember one thing, my love,” he said, squeezing her fingers gently. “Don’t tell anyone.” 

“Of course not!” Louisa reassured him, slipping her hand from his to use both to hold up her skirts against the muddy terrain. 

There was a time, perhaps, when she might have been tempted to confide all her comings and goings with her elder sister, but no more. Ella had seen to that the moment she learned of Louisa’s last meeting with Joshua only a couple of days earlier, one in which she had witnessed their kissing and practically accused her of being a harlot. It still pained her to think of it now. They had been so close before. A part of her wished they could be again. But since that day, she did not feel the sisterly trust she had felt before. And lack of trust was dangerous, especially now. Joshua had reassured her of that. 

With one last wave over her shoulder, Louisa slipped deeper into the woods, hoping to avoid being seen from the house for as long as possible. Maybe if she were quick enough, she could avoid being seen at all. 

When she made it from the woods, over the fields, to the little garden gate separating the wild from the manicured gardens, all Louisa had to do was reach the servants’ entrance, and she was certain she would be safe. Yet even as she hurried towards the steps that led to said door, she held her breath, listening for any sign that she was not alone. With only the moonlight to guide her, she stumbled and nearly tripped several times, slipping on the mossy servants’ steps before eventually reaching the door. 

The sounds of mayhem in the kitchens beyond the corridor hit Louisa’s ears the moment she opened the door, and again she listened, hoping and praying all would be too busy to notice her. She slid through the door and carefully closed it behind her to avoid making a sound. Then, hurrying off her muddy boots, she hid them behind the trunk seat beside the door, knowing she would need them again that night. Collecting her indoor shoes from where she had stashed them earlier, she slipped them on and started to hurry along the corridor, pausing every so often to listen to the goings on in the kitchen. 

At the sound of footsteps drawing near the kitchen door, she halted, slipping into a meager alcove in the hopes of remaining shrouded in the shadows. Holding her breath, she peered out from her hiding place just in time to see the butler headed the opposite way down the corridor, towards his office. 

“You know where I shall be should you have need of me!” he called over his shoulder as he went, and when he closed the office door firmly behind him, Louisa was even more relieved. Being caught by a maid or even a footman was one thing, but to see the disappointment in the gaze of her father’s most trusted butler was entirely another. He was practically a second father to them, and another person Louisa was scared to upset. Yet that fear would not prevent her from doing what she needed. 

Slipping carefully past the kitchen door and then the closed office door, Louisa felt a rush of excitement at how far she had already come. Now all she had to do was make it to her bedroom without being seen.

Rushing up the stone steps of the servants’ stairs that spanned the entirety of the house, Louisa quickly found herself back in her room. The moment she closed the door behind her, she leaned back against the cool wood and breathed deeply for the first time since she had left Joshua. With eyes closed, she prayed that the rest of the night would go so smoothly.

Chapter Two

Lady Ella Gideon, the eldest daughter of the Earl of Partridge, felt terrible at the cool greeting she and her sister offered each other when they arrived in the drawing room that evening to await the dinner gong. And by the time it was rung, they had barely spoken two words to each other. That was how it had been between them for several days now, nothing like they had been previously. 

Was I too harsh on her? Ella asked herself as she followed her father and sister into the dining room. She could see from the look on her sister’s face, from the slope of her shoulders, that she was not her usual cheery self. And the guilt gnawed at Ella’s stomach, making it almost impossible for her to finish her meal. 

“Have you had a fair day, Papa?” Ella asked, unable to bear the silence in the room for too long. 

“Fair enough, thank you, Ella. And you?” 

The earl just barely looked up from his dinner plate. Clearly, the recent illness he had been suffering from had left him quite hungry. And she was more than a little glad to see him beginning to feel better. It was the first night all week he had actually joined them at the dining table.

Usually, she and her sister would have left him be to eat while chattering away, but as she had been the last few days, Louisa was unusually silent. It did not help that their mother had yet to return from visiting her sister a few estates over, though Ella hoped she would return later that evening after several days away. Maybe then Louisa’s icy disposition might change. 

“I have had a fine day also, Papa. I spent much of it in the library reading,” she admitted, turning to her sister in the hopes she might interject something. When she did not, Ella was forced to ask, “And you, Louisa? Has your day been fine also?” 

At her question, Louisa appeared to stiffen. She paused in cutting her beef and looked at Ella with an almost challenging glint in her dark blue eyes. Then she responded in a clipped tone, “Just as fine as any other.” 

Those were all the words spoken throughout dinner save for their father wishing them both a good evening before he retired to his study to work. And more so than ever, Ella felt as though her sister was slipping away from her. If only she had been able to convince her that being anywhere near Mr Joshua Giles was a bad idea, bad not only for her own sake but the sake of their entire family. To get so close to any man could plummet them all into ruin. And yet Louisa appeared entirely unable to see that. 

Almost the moment their father was gone from the table, while Louisa still remained opposite her, Ella opened her mouth to speak. Perhaps she even meant to apologise. But before she could do so, Louisa started to rise from her seat, practically slamming her servette down on the table before her. 

“Sister,” she said, offering a curt nod before removing herself from the room. 

Ella remained where she was long afterwards, unsure of exactly what to do or how to proceed. On the one hand, she was the eldest sister and had every right and responsibility to ensure her sister conducted herself appropriately. On the other hand, she just wanted to talk to her sister as they once had done, as though there were no walls between them, and they could share their secrets. Ella wasn’t sure when that had stopped occurring, but clearly it had because up until she witnessed her sister kissing Joshua behind the garden wall just beyond the garden gate, she had known nothing of their secret meetings or their supposed love for one another. 

“Excuse me, My Lady, but are you well?” 

Just hearing the voice of her lady’s maid, Alice, helped Ella somewhat out of her stupor. She quickly removed her serviette from her lap, wiping her mouth before she rose to her feet. 

“Alice, please send my compliments to Mrs Walters. I must go and speak with my sister,” Ella instructed the maid, and the dark-haired woman simply offered her a nod, awaiting her departure before likely going about her chores. 

On the other hand, Ella walked from the dining room directly up the stairs to her sister’s bedroom, determined that their lack of talk at dinner would not continue into the following day. She’d had quite enough of it all, and more than ever, she wished to know what was going through her sister’s mind. 

She only paused outside her sister’s room for a moment before raising her hand to knock. At first, she thought that no answer would come. She heard the shuffling of fast-moving feet through the door. And then, Louisa tore it open, her face dropping the moment she saw Ella. “Oh, it’s you.” 

Though she did not look pleased, Louisa did step out of the way and gesture Ella inside. All the eldest sister could do was hope that was a good sign. At the very least, she had not simply slammed the door in her face or even yelled at her to go away. 

“Louisa,” Ella said when she saw that her sister had no intention of closing the door behind them, clearly leaving the way open for one of them to leave immediately upon things getting hairy. “Is everything well?” 

“Why would it not be?” Louisa responded, clearly speaking through gritted teeth. 

Ella clenched her jaw for a moment, determined not to speak too harshly towards her sister. The last thing she wanted to do was push her any further away. 

Turning her full attention upon her, Ella raised one silken blonde eyebrow slightly and said, “You have been rather quiet of late. I am concerned for you.”

Louisa’s gaze dropped to the ground, but not before Ella noticed the flushing in her cheeks. “You need not worry about me. I am well.”

The gnawing sensation in Ella’s stomach left her unconvinced of her sister’s insistence, but the way that Louisa continued to look at the floor left her with little opportunity to try and push matters. How could she get her sister to talk to her when she could not even look her in the eye? 

“Look, Louisa, about Mr Giles …” Ella started, but her sister’s eyes darted upwards. Their gazes met for just a few seconds, the look in Louisa’s eyes suggesting she had absolutely no wish to talk on such a subject before they darted back to the floor again. 

“We need not talk of it again,” Louisa insisted firmly, kicking the hardwood floor with the tip of her shoe. “You made your stance on the matter abundantly clear when last we spoke.” 

Bile rose in the back of Ella’s throat because, in all honesty, that had been the last time she and her sister had truly spoken. And Ella had said some pretty harsh things to her sister, things she had now come to regret. 

“Louisa, I …” Ella began, meaning to apologise, but Louisa did not stop to listen. She stepped back towards the door, gripping hold of the handle and gesturing Ella out with her free hand. 

“If you wouldn’t mind, I am tired.” 

Ella gritted her teeth. There was so much more she wished to say. And yet, she sensed that her sister was in no mood to listen. 

“Perhaps these are things best left discussed in the morning?” Ella suggested, hopefully. She gazed at her sister, looking for any sign that she might be amenable to the idea. 

“Perhaps.” Louisa shrugged, and it became immediately clear to Ella that her sister had no intention of sharing any such conversation with her. 

Feeling more than a little heartbroken, Ella left, turning in the hallway to give her sister one final glance. “Good evening, sister.” 

“Evening,” Louisa responded curtly before closing the door between them. 

For a second, Ella was unable to move. She desperately wanted to push open her sister’s door once more and demand to know what was going on. But she could still feel the tension practically seething under the door and knew it would do no good. 

As she headed to her own room next door, she could not shake the feeling that something more sinister than two sisters’ falling out was at work. 

She and Louisa had never fought like this before. It unnerved her greatly, and even when Alice arrived to help her out of her dinner garments, she still could not stop thinking that her sister needed her; she was just too stubborn to admit it.

“A Duke in Pursuit of Passion” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

The alluring Ella Gideon, daughter of the Earl of Partridge has always been the epitome of poise and elegance. However, when her younger sister falls into the clutches of a wicked man who claims to love her, everything begins to fall apart. With an overbearing mother, a sick father and a runaway sister, Ella feels as though she is the only one left to save their family from scandal. When a tempting old friend from her past resurfaces and offers his help, she must decide whether she is willing to risk her heart in order to save her sister.

Will she succumb to the irresistible lust she feels for him?

The seductive Lord Nathaniel Rolfe is the only son of the Duke of Worthington. Having travelled all over the British Isles he has certainly made a name for himself, as a rogue and a rake. When a letter from his father calls him home to help his childhood best friend Ella in finding her missing sister, he jumps at the chance to prove himself to her and possibly seduce her. However, coming face to face with the tantalising Ella again, he is shocked by her cold reception and her obvious disdain for him.

Will he melt her chilly façade and convince her that opposites can make for a passionate match?

As they search for her sister, Nathaniel and Ella are forced to confront the unresolved, flaming feelings they have for each other. The attraction between them is undeniable, but can they let go of the past and embrace the passion that burns between them? Or will they let their old wounds tear them apart?

“A Duke in Pursuit of Passion” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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One thought on “A Duke in Pursuit of Passion (Preview)”

  1. Hello there, my dearest readers! I hope you enjoyed this little treat and can’t wait to read the rest! I will be waiting for your first impressions here. Thank you! 📚♥️

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