The Duke's Downfall by Lynn Michaels
Originally published by Fawcett Crest
Kindle Edition September 2010 by Lynn Michaels
Back Cover Blurb
Lady Elizabeth Keaton uses her keen wits, firm resolve and her dog Boru, an Irish wolfhound, to avoid a match with her obnoxious cousin. Her unusual behavior brings her to the attention of Charles Earnshaw, Duke of Braxton, who thinks she is interested in his youngest brother, Teddy. Fortunately, Teddy can see where the real match ought to be.
A sequel to Captain Rakehell, also by Lynn Michaels
Once Betsy's grandmother had been served dessert, the footman George, and Iddings the butler returned to the kitchen and shed their coats. They heated more water and dragged the hipbath before the fire, filled it and stepped back. Teeth gritted and eyes squinted, the orphan boy Davey clutched his little dog Scraps in his thin arms and climbed into the tub.
Rolling up his sleeves, Charles went down on his knees and took up a cloth and soap. While he scoured the boy from stem to stern, he told him all the titles he held and how he'd come by them.
The list was rather long, sufficiently so that Charles had to stop and think and correct it twice. Listening to him, elbow deep in murky water, scrubbing grime and coal dust from Scraps' shaggy coat, Betsy felt her heart swell and tears prick her eyes.
How kind and patient Charles was, how handsome with his hair burnished copper by the fire and water gleaming on his muscled forearms. There was nothing of the lunatic about him now, or the tyrant he'd been at Lady Pinchon's rout. How ridiculously and hopelessly in love with him she was, while he only wished to be her friend.
And how fervently Betsy hoped he wouldn't remember that he'd kissed her twice this day, for if his memory of all the events in Hyde Park returned he would, as a gentleman, feel bound by honor to marry her. He remembered Boru disappearing, but had made no mention of anything else, which she took as a hopeful sign. For no matter how friendly his feelings toward her, Betsy wouldn't, couldn't marry him without at least a glimmer of the fevered gleam she'd seen earlier in his eyes.
Though it had frightened her and she'd mistaken it for madness induced by his fall, she longed to see at least of spark of it now in his blue-green eyes, for it had occurred to her that love was not unlike madness. There was no discernible logic to it, and precious little reason, for it made no sense at all that the mere sight of this man should leave her feeling so breathless. Still, it did, and it saddened her, too, when the wink he gave her, as Davey rose from the water with chattering teeth, held only amusement and a conspiratorial twinkle.
Wrapping the boy in one towel and Scraps in another, Betsy sat on the bench with the terrier on her lap to dry him, while Charles carried Davey off to the scullery to dress him in brown breeches, a white shirt and a blue vest borrowed from the pot boy. When Charles returned, leading a shy and transformed Davey with shiny and still-damp blond hair by the hand, the smile on the duke's face glowed with almost paternal pride.
"How handsome you are!" Betsy exclaimed to Davey, unwrapping the little dog from the towel and holding him up for all to admire. "And look at Scraps!"
His coat was no longer shaggy but silky, a mix of tan and chocolate brown. He wiggled and whimpered happily in Betsy's hands, until a vividly blushing Davey took the little dog in his arms, cuddled him to his chest, and burst into sobs.
Blinking madly at the tears swimming in her eyes, Betsy bowed her head and bit her lip. She started just a bit when Charles laid a hand gently on her shoulder.
"You are learning, my lady," he murmured to her.
"Thanks to you," Betsy said softly, smiling up at him.