The Duke’s Holiday by Maggie Fenton

imageBook One in The Regency Romp Trilogy

The Duke of Montford, cold, precise, and more powerful than the Prince Regent himself, wants things the way he wants them: cross-referenced, indexed, and at his beck and call. And he always gets what he wants.

Until he meets Astrid Honeywell. And a giant pig. And a crooked castle in the middle of Yorkshire.

Astrid Honeywell, staunch bluestocking, has struggled for years to keep her family together by running the estate and family brewery after her father’s death. She is not about to let the tyrannical Duke of Montford steal away all she has worked for because of some antiquated contract between their families. So when the priggish Duke comes to call, she does everything in her power — including setting the family pig on him — to drive him away.

She didn’t expect him to be so … well, infuriatingly attractive. Every time he scowls at her, she has the most improper desire to kiss him — and a whole lot more.

Montford can’t decide whether to strangle Astrid or seduce her. The one thing he knows for a fact is that he must resist his powerful attraction for her at all costs. He has a very proper, very demure fiancée waiting for him back in London, after all. But when Astrid is kidnapped by a disgruntled suitor and whisked off to Gretna Green, Montford will do anything to get her back.

Will these two drive each other to Bedlam … or can they make it to the altar without killing each other?

Includes an OCD Duke, a fiery heroine, mistaken identities, errant livestock, pompadours, drunken declarations, a touch of smex, and enough witty banter to sink a ship.

NOTE: This is a sexy historical romance. Recommended for 18+ due to adult content.

Targeted Audience: 21+

Author Bio:
Maggie Fenton is an avid reader, reviewer and scribbler of romance in between her work as a professional musician. She writes steampunk romance under another pseudonym and has enjoyed some success as a self-published author in that genre. She hopes to enjoy much much more. The Duke’s Holiday is her first foray into the historical romance genre, one of her personal favorites. It won’t be her last.

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Sample from Book:

Chapter One

IN WHICH THE DUKE RECEIVES UNSETTLING NEWS

LORD CYRIL Halbert Algernon Monk, the eleventh Duke of Montford, got drunk for the first and only time in his life at the tender age of twelve. His best mate, Sebastian Sherbrook, managed to procure a bottle of Blue Ruin from a stablehand for a sum of money they later found out to be outrageous – a crown indeed! – and the two of them, curious as only twelve year old boys can be on the subject of vice, hid in a copse of elderberry bushes outside their dormitory at Harrow during the winter holidays (as neither had families to go home to), drank down the whole bottle like it was water, and scoffed to each other how little effect it had on them.

Five minutes later, they were in the elderberry bushes, not just hiding amongst them. And eventually his lunch and Sebastian’s lunch were also in the elderberry bushes, and on his new boots. But for the brief euphoria before that terrible, messy fall, the experience was an unmitigated disaster.

Yet he had an explanation at long last for the one thing in his life his usually agile brain could not seem to take in. Namely, why his parents, who had been two rational, fairly perceptive people – or so he’d been told – had given him not one, not two, but three perfectly dreadful names. The sort of names that made a little boy shipped off to Harrow at eight years old an easy target for his peers. For, until that point in time, he had been raised by a team of solicitors, tutors, and house servants, and had been obeyed like a petty despot since he’d learned to speak in sentences.

Harrow was indeed a rude awakening. In that first year he was tripped, teased, pinched, punched, and the butt of countless schoolyard jokes, most of them taking the form of the ever-popular limerick.

His parents, he decided, had been drunk when it had come time to name him. It was the only thing that made sense.That revelation – and the sad state of his boots – was enough to convince him of the myriad dangers of alcohol. He was never drunk again. He was no teetotaler by any means, but he knew his limit when out with his more reckless mates. He knew he’d had enough when any of his names started to sound good to him. When that happened, he put down his glass, stepped away from the decanter, and called it a night.

The only good thing to have come out of his parents dying tragically when he was four was inheriting the title and availing himself of a name that was blessedly un-ridiculous. Having no immediate family left, there was no one to call him by his given names. He was His Grace to servants and strangers and just plain Montford to his circle of intimates.

No one had dared utter Cyril, Halbert, Algernon, or even Monk, to his face since his second year at Harrow when he had given Evelyn Leighton, Viscount Marlowe, aforementioned bully, a drubbing so fierce that molars, spit, and blood had been flung about the schoolyard in a ten foot radius. It was the one time in his life he had not fainted at the sight of blood, so distraught was he.

Never mind Marlowe was twice his size and a year older. Never mind he’d been suspended for the rest of the term, banished to one of his guardian’s country estates, without the company of anyone but the staff. Something inside of him had burst after one of Marlowe’s infamous cuffs to his neck and an uninspired limerick that rhymed Algernon with hard-on. He’d jumped upon Marlowe in a frenzied whirl of arms and legs, spouting a litany of curses so foul even Sebastian, already world-weary at age ten, had gasped in astonishment. He’d had to be pulled off of Marlowe’s stunned, nearly unconscious form by the combined efforts of two instructors.

No one had teased him after that.

And that drubbing had won Marlowe’s heart, it seemed, for from that day forward, Marlowe had decided to be his bosom friend. The sick bastard.

By Cambridge, with Sherbrook and Marlowe by his side – not to mention having sprouted up to an impressive six foot two inches tall – he was no longer teased. He was Montford, one of the wealthiest, most powerful aristocrats in the kingdom, even at eighteen. Of course, behind his back, some braver souls – including Sherbrook and Marlowe – labeled him The Monk, because of some of his more peculiar personal habits that could not be hidden behind any title.

He had always been fastidious, what could he say?

For instance, he liked his boots shined until they were like mirrors. And when his boots weren’t on his feet, he liked them to be lined up in the wardrobe, heels precisely aligned. He had his valet, Coombes, arrange his jackets and waistcoats by color – black, grey, blue, green, etc. – and his breeches by category – a drawer for riding, a drawer for morning, one for afternoon, and one for evening. And he liked his cravats starched, ironed, and tied just so. If he spotted, felt, or suspected a wrinkle, he had Coombes fetch a fresh one immediately. He invariably went through half a dozen by the end of the day – twice that if he’d been out riding about his estates or fencing at his club.
He’d given up on Coombes shaving him just to spare himself the anguish of discovering a stray hair mid-morning and Coombes’ inevitable tears when his error was pointed out. He therefore shaved himself. And after he was done with his morning ablutions, he made sure that all of his brushes, razors, strops, and bottles – square, not round – were lined up on the table at perfect ninety-degree angles.

And then there was his desk. His desk was his haven. A more orderly desk in London could not be found. His inkwells, paperweights, blotters, and ducal seal sat in a neat, even row at the top center, precisely three inches from the edge. His stationary sat directly in front of his chair, so meticulously stacked it looked like a single, thick rectangle.

He allowed his man-of-affairs, Stevenage, to sort his correspondence into tidy piles, the bottom right hand corners aligned. When Stevenage had taken over his position after the retirement of Stevenage the Elder – for he had inherited his job in much the same way Montford had inherited the dukedom – the man had taken it upon himself to align the correspondence just so, revealing a love of detail and order that spoke directly to Montford’s heart.

Stevenage, suffering from the same obsessive affliction as his employer, was more than happy to put the Duke’s correspondence into pristine piles. A pile for estate affairs. A pile for banking receipts. Another for House of Lords business. Another for his personal correspondence. Another for the social invitations he wanted to accept (a very short pile). Another for the social invitations he didn’t want to accept but was obliged to (a rather large pile). And another labeled Miscellaneous – correspondence that, like the oversized books in his library he’d banished to a far corner, defied categorization and utterly nettled him.

The Miscellaneous pile –That Pile – nettled Stevenage as well. Montford often caught his man-of-affairs glancing at it as nervously as he himself did when he thought no one else was looking. Stevenage was, if at all possible, even more concerned with the order of things than Montford himself.

The Miscellaneous pile –That Pile – nettled Stevenage as well. Montford often caught his man-of-affairs glancing at it as nervously as he himself did when he thought no one else was looking. Stevenage was, if at all possible, even more concerned with the order of things than Montford himself.

And Stevenage was, on this particular morning, looking extremely concerned when Montford entered the library to take up the morning business. His man-of-affairs was, as usual, immaculately dressed in stiff, unrelenting black superfine, the kind that only solicitors and undertakers seemed to wear, his cravat simply but neatly tied, his steely gray hair combed and pomaded, and his gold spectacles as unsmudged as ever. But the brown eyes behind the spectacles were a little … well, wild, and the man kept glancing over to That Pile on the desk.

Montford knew something was dreadfully wrong when Stevenage tugged upon his cravat, disordering it ever so slightly.

“What’s wrong?” Montford demanded.

“I don’t know how it happened, Your Grace … how it was overlooked. Indeed I do not know …” Stevenage trailed off into incoherence, a first for the usually acute man.

Montford sat down at his desk and braced himself, then noticed an opened letter clinging perilously to the cliff’s edge of That Pile, as if it had been dropped there, willy-nilly, by his man-of-affairs. Or had sprung to life of its own accord like some pernicious barnacle, uncaring of the chaos it caused.

Montford sucked in a breath and told himself to remain calm. “Remain calm, Stevenage, and tell me the problem.”

“Alyosius Honeywell is dead, Your Grace.”

Hmm.

Well, this wasn’t exactly bad news. He had been waiting for years for Alyosius Honeywell to kick off, hadn’t he?

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