The Beastly Duke’s Bride Read Online Violet Hamers

Categories Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Tags Authors:
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Total pages in book: 94
Estimated words: 85684 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 428(@200wpm)___ 343(@250wpm)___ 286(@300wpm)
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“I would do anything to save my father, Your Grace. Just…be gentle with me.”
No one hates the Duke of Hillow more than he hates himself. After being humiliated about his war disfigurement and losing everyone he loved, he doesn’t dare show his face outside anymore. Not without his mask on.
Edwina was never supposed to be a part of the ton. Well, at least not until the day her quirky father inherited his title from a distant relative and placed her under their scrutinizing eyes and relentless matchmaking.
So when her father never returns home from his walk one night, Edwina is worried that the notorious Monster of London got him. But she could never imagine that a reclusive Duke had dragged him all the way to prison over some flowers. Or that she would have to give herself as a bride in exchange for her father’s freedom…

FULL BOOK START HERE:

CHAPTER ONE

“Do not do it,” Edwina muttered to herself. She craned to look around her dance partner’s shoulder.

“Do not do what?” Mr. Barnett asked, frowning. “Have I stepped on your toes again?”

She sighed, exasperated but then painted a radiant smile on her face. “No, my apologies, I was just muttering to myself.”

As soon as Mr. Barnett refocused his attention back on the dance, Edwina tried to find her father in the crowd again. Members of the ton had shown up in force that evening as Lady Berkley’s events always drew a large crowd. Edwina felt lucky to have been extended an invitation as she was not well known in society yet.

When she finally set eyes on her father, he had pulled out his eyepiece and was peering scandalously close to Mrs. Devon’s necklace as it still hung from her neck. Edwina groaned. Even if she had wanted to focus her attention on her partner, trying to keep her father out of trouble seemed to fully occupy her attention. While society might require her to have a chaperone in public, she felt that her father needed one more.

“Are you quite well?” Mr. Barnett asked as Edwina placed her hand in his again for a turn in the steps of the dance.

Wrinkling her nose, she muttered, “Blast it,” before smiling back at Mr. Barnett. “Actually, I am feeling a little faint. Perhaps, we could fetch some lemonade?”

“Of course,” he agreed hurriedly, taking her arm and swiftly conducting her toward the refreshments table. With her father being conveniently between the dance floor and refreshments, Edwina caught his arm.

“Oh, Papa, you look thirsty,” she told him, ignoring Mr. Barnett’s perplexed look. “Please, join us.” Mrs. Devon backed away quickly, holding her hand over her bosom in barely contained horror.

“I bid you goodnight, Lord Haverton,” she breathed stiffly and turned on her heel.

“Oh, what have I done?” Papa asked, his brows knit together. His eyepiece still sat in his eye as he turned to Edwina. “Have I done something wrong?”

“Oh, Papa,” Edwina breathed, taking his arm. She smiled apologetically at Mr. Barnett. “Have you met Mr. Barnett?” Mr. Barnett smiled politely, nodding, a cold reception that made Edwina wonder if she had blundered the introduction herself.

“Mr. Barnett, a pleasure to meet you,” Papa rushed, bowing several times. “Did you have a pleasant dance?”

“Yes,” he replied stiffly. “Though Miss Haverton said she was faint. Do you still need that lemonade, Madam?”

“Please,” she breathed, smiling adoringly up at him. Clinging to her father’s arm, she bent down to his ear. “Please do not peer so closely to ladies’ bosoms, or any other part of their person. It makes them uncomfortable.”

“I was just admiring her necklace!” he protested.

“It does not matter, Papa,” Edwina scolded but then smiled gently at him. “I know you meant no harm, but they do not know that, do they?”

“I am sorry, Edwina,” he sighed. “I shall try to do better.”

She kissed him lightly on the cheek before relinquishing her hold on him. “I know, Papa.” He left her with a sheepish smile, and Edwina turned back to Mr. Barnett, who had taken a glass of lemonade and handed it to her.

“You adore your father, do you not?” he asked.

“Oh, with all my heart,” she told him with a smile. She looked out into the crowded ballroom to find her father, but he had disappeared.

“He is the most interesting fellow,” Mr. Barnett commented, though not unkindly. “I do not recall meeting him in the past. Is your family often in town for the season?”

“This is our first year to reside in London during the season,” she explained, her smile tightening. “My father only recently inherited the baronetcy, you see.”

“So, it is true that the late Baron had no close relatives?”

“Yes, my father was a distant cousin.”

She turned to look out into the ballroom, pretending to be distracted by the dancers while she sipped her lemonade. She had answered similar questions all season, usually while trying to ignore the smirking implications. Every man and woman were the same, judging her and her father for how unfamiliar they were with the ton.


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