The “sort of” second volume in my new series comes out tomorrow. I say “sort of” because The Duke’s Sons got its start quite a while ago, with an earlier book The Bargain. It just took me a few years to go back to the beguiling Gresham brothers and give each one his own story.
When Sourcebooks asked me to describe What the Duke Doesn’t Know as guidance for the art and marketing departments, the term that came to me was “rollicking.” Publishers Weekly’s starred review said the book “resonates with the humor of English seafaring comedy such as The Pirates of Penzance,” so I think I chose my descriptor well.
Lord James, back from years of service in the Royal Navy, finds that his seafaring past has followed him home, in the person of the unconventional Kawena Benson. With a pistol. And a yearning for revenge. RT Book Reviews said, “Kudos to Ashford for bringing a free-spirited Polynesian heroine into strict Regency society, adding diversity and interest to a charming romance.” These two have a riproaring time falling in love.
“You object to having her in the carriage?” she replied haughtily. “I will be happy to pay for the—”
“You don’t have to pay,” Lord James interrupted savagely. “Everything isn’t about payment.”
No, it was about this infuriating thing called propriety that reared up at the worst possible moments to blight one’s life. “I’ll tell her that she is most welcome then.” Kawena turned her back and proceeded up the stairs.
“I’ll see about a post chaise,” he answered in clipped tones.
“I expect the day after tomorrow would be best,” she said without looking at him. “To give Miss Jennings time to prepare.”
“I am entirely at your service,” he replied in a tone so biting that it might have had fangs.
“Thank you,” said Kawena with the same snap.
There was a slapping sound, like a hand striking the wall. “I’m going out,” Lord James snarled, and tramped down the winding stair as Kawena continued upward. From the upper corridor, she heard the front door slam.
Inside her bedroom, Kawena yanked off her stupid, constricting bonnet and threw it onto the bed. Her shawl followed. She longed for other items to hurl about, preferably things that would make loud, satisfying noises as they shattered. She nearly sacrificed a porcelain dog from the mantel, but she managed to resist.
Of course they find their way to understanding in the end, but it takes a literal explosion to seal this match.
The next Duke’s Sons story, Lord Sebastian’s Secret, is coming in January.