Table of Contents
RAVES FOR ASHLEY MARCH
“Ashley March is a glorious new voice in romance. From the first page,
Romancing the Countess
captivated me with a smart heroine, a sexy, brooding hero, and a sophisticated romance that vibrates with sexual tension. Ashley March is the goods!
“March’s debut novel glows with its fresh take on a traditional theme, a second chance at love. Her sprightly characters and snappy dialogue set the pace for a delectable, sensual love story. March is destined to be a fan favorite.”
“With its addictive combination of richly nuanced characters, elegant writing spiced with a soupçon of wicked wit, and abundance of sizzling sexual chemistry, March’s exceptional debut is literary gold.”
“Exquisite prose and an emotional story—this is my favorite kind of book.”
Bestselling author of
“One of the funniest, most creative, well-written romances I have read in a long time. With characters that leap off the page, a romance that happens after the marriage, and a plot filled with twists, humor, and tons of seduction,
Seducing the Duchess
is an addition to my shelf that will be enjoyed many times over the years to come. Reminiscent of Johanna Lindsey and Bertrice Small, Ashley March joins the ranks of romance writers. Fans of historical romance will be eagerly awaiting Ashley March’s next book.”
—Night Owl Reviews
“A wonderful and beautiful love story of falling in love again, forgiveness, and what love can repair in any relationship.”
—The Romance Reviews
“A compelling read by Ashley March, who provides a second chance for a couple in a dismal and destructive marriage . . . will undoubtedly appeal to all fans of historical romance.”
—Romance Novel News
“A fun, entertaining read. . . . For those of you out there who, like March’s husband, haven’t read a romance, I suggest you give it a try.”
The Colorado Springs Gazette
“A brilliant debut, with a wonderful plotline and plenty of sinfully satisfying characters . . . a wonderful story filled with all the longing, deception, and forgiveness (and of course, romance) a book reader could ever ask for.”
—Not Another Romance Blog
“Through her wonderful writing, Ms. March shows readers the true, emotional reasons behind the wrongs of the past and the genuine interest of both Philip and Charlotte to find and hold fast to their own happily ever after. This debut novel is one that everyone should enjoy!”
—The Romance Dish
“Addicting and thoroughly delicious. Our debut author has herself a great start in the right direction with a book that will make you enjoy all the little tastes of seduction and romance with a flair for licking your fingers.”
—Yankee Romance Reviewers
“One of the wittiest . . . romances I have read in quite a while. From the first page the characters just step out into your bedroom with you.”
—The Romance Readers Connection
Also by Ashley March
Seducing the Duchess
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,
Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
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Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,
New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, September 2011
ISBN : 978-1-101-54395-5
Copyright © Ashley March, 2011
Seducing the Duchess
© Ashley March, 2010
All rights reserved
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To Luke, because after deciding to make the sacrifice of actually reading a “romance” book, you’ve now become my #1 fan. Oh, and for all that “cleaning and cooking and taking care of the children” stuff, too. If you didn’t know already, I’m your #1 fan. 143, always.
Thank you to my editor, Jesse Feldman. You’ve quickly become my sanity in this writing journey. You transform good ideas into brilliant ones, talk me off of ledges, and somehow make sense of all of my rambling. Also, thank you for the laugh about a certain proposed carriage scene. I’m so glad that serendipity landed me on your desk, and so very grateful to have your support and guidance.
Thank you to my dream agent, Sara Megibow, who continually manages to exceed my expectations. Every day I’m thrilled to know that I have you on my side, and I’m so proud to be part of your team. In an effort to save the rain forests by not listing all the reasons why I adore you, I’ll simply say: Thank you for everything.
As always, a humongous thank-you to Anna Randol and Kat Brauer, my two amazing critique partners and fellow authors, who are soon going to rock the world. No amount of words could ever be enough to express my gratitude and happiness to see us all achieve our dreams.
Thank you to my family and friends for encouraging my new role as a romance author. A special thank-you to the Henderson-Metzgers for buying copies of my debut for the entire world, and to Lynett, who showed me how to put the baby to good use in hand-selling my books.
And finally, thank you to all the authors, book bloggers, and readers who made my first year as a romance author absolutely wonderful. Especially to Rita, Danielle, Paige, Linda, Shane, Kris, Katharine, Jeanne, Buffie, Aislynn, Kati, Ely, Alyssa, Donna, my fellow NLA agency mates, CRW authors, the RA Army, and everyone who participated in or joined the First Annual March Madness Blog Party. The romance community rocks because of you.
London, April 1849
As on most every other night, Leah lay in the center of the bed and watched the shadows cast from the firelight flicker across the canopy. The steady lash of rain and wind rattled the windows in their cases, a buffer against the usual silence.
Lightning flashed through the room, and her breath caught as she stared at the illumination of silverthreaded flowers overhead. Even if the bedchamber had been suffused in darkness, she still could have recited each detail of the bed’s rococo-style construction. The fluted mahogany posts with their serpentine cornices. The shallow frieze of interwoven palmettes and draperies of lush, midnight velvet. The feet fashioned as lion heads below and the domed canopy above. When the lightning came again, Leah measured her breath, anticipating the accompanying growl of thunder.