The Duke and The Debutante (Waltzes and Wagers #1) Read Online Nicole Bennett

Categories Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Tags Authors: Series: Waltzes and Wagers Series by Nicole Bennett

Total pages in book: 51
Estimated words: 46293 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 231(@200wpm)___ 185(@250wpm)___ 154(@300wpm)

Five scandalous and supremely bored gentlemen. One silly gamble.

Trapped in what is perhaps the single dullest social season in all of England, the most infamous, and tight-knit, group of rogues in the Ton require a diversion. A frivolous wager to pass the time seems just the thing, and it doesn’t take the mischievous men long to concoct a little game. The task: waltz with a prickly wallflower of the group’s choosing by the end of the summer. Succeed and receive a great reward. Fail and complete a humiliating dare.
The stakes are high, and the game is on. But the chosen ladies might just prove to be far more than any of the men bargained for…


Chapter One

Nathanial Ware, 7th Duke of Milton, eyed the ballroom before him with a wariness he hadn’t felt in a long time. Barely two hours into his arrival and he’d already been introduced to a veritable host of blushing, wide-eyed debutantes eager to secure him for a set. As it was, none had achieved this lofty aim, though he knew it would only be a matter of time before he’d need to dance with someone, if only to settle his mother’s increasingly obvious exasperation.

As if on cue, the duchess let out a huff of annoyance under her breath. “Really, Milton,” she said with a tight smile as the most recent introduction went on her way. “When you said you were ready for the wife hunt, I expected you to put forth the tiniest shred of effort. How is anyone to know you are in the market for a bride if you refuse to speak to a single debutante for more than a string of sentences, mm?” Resplendent in a fashionable French ballgown and adorned in the Ware Emeralds, the duchess was a sight to behold, her famed beauty not faded with age. Though she wore a frown, her blue eyes glittered with more mirth than irritation. “A part of me wonders if this sudden and recent admission of yours was merely a ploy to get me to attend the Season this year.”

Nathan put a hand to his chest. “You shock me, madam. I am devoted to my duty to the bloodline, and I’ll not have you question me with such silly accusations.”

She raised a slender eyebrow in response. “Yes, and that was why you foisted funds for an entirely new wardrobe on me. Goodness, I haven’t had so many new clothes since my come-out.”

He could only smile and take a sip of tepid champagne in response. It had been almost ten years since his mother had ventured from the principal family seat, his boyhood memories of her as a social butterfly being just that, memories. Every day that went by seeing her doddering around the estate, the vibrant colors she once wore replaced with black, her wide smiles now ones of gentle melancholy, was like a punch to the gut. When he’d shown a tentative interest at the beginning of the month for a bride and she’d offered to accompany him to aid in his endeavor, he’d lept upon the chance to get his mother to London once more. And though his enthusiasm for the marriage mart had been just a tad exaggerated, the duchesses’s blooming glow as she commanded every event they attended more than made up for the tedium.

“If you think I don’t know your plots well, my dear boy, you are sadly mistaken,” she said with a playful tap of her fan on his shoulder.

Nathanial pat her back with a chuckle. “Yes, I am more than aware of how shrewd you are. Though my happiness regarding the matter at hand might not be entirely honest, it is true that I am hoping for a wife soon.”

“Hoping? Or resigned?”

“A bit of both, I think.”

The duchess scoffed. “If you are serious, then you should stop making such a sour face any time the topic is brought up. And for goodness’ sakes, dance. There must have been a dozen ladies introduced to you tonight. Has not one struck your fancy?”

“Dreadfully dull, the lot of them.”

“Nathan!” she hissed, barely concealing a bubble of laughter with her fan.

“So you agree that this Season and the persons taking part within it have been lackluster.”

“I will admit that, compared to a few years ago at least, these events have been…” The duchess tapped her chin. “What is a good way to describe it?”

“Boring?” he supplied.

“Must you be so blunt about things?”

“The blessings of a dukedom, I’m afraid.”

She rolled her eyes. “Your father used to say the same thing.”

A pang hit him at the thought of his sire, but Nathan concealed the pain with anther sip of his drink. That his mother could even speak of her husband so candidly without that empty look in her eyes was a great deal of progress that he would not discourage. “That he did.”