Sidney Hartridge devises an experiment to reveal their antics. Her
plan is to lure three gentlemen to kiss her and see how they would
protect her honor. When her research leads her into her own
inappropriate scandal, her father agrees to a wedding offer from one
of her subjects. As her fiancé blackmails her into a marriage she
doesn’t desire, her research becomes exposed. Can Sidney avoid her
own scandal with the one she most desires to kiss?
new debutantes. When he rescues a lady off the dance floor, he is
unprepared for the emotions she stirs in his soul. As he pursues her,
he realizes he must compete for her hand. As he charms her with
tokens of affections and stolen kisses, he discovers she plays her
own game. Will Noah win Sidney’s love or is she just another
scandal to add to his list?
Marquess, or A Duke? is the first book in Laura A. Barnes new
historical romance series. If you like lighthearted drama filled
courtships set in Regency England, then you’ll love this new foray
into the ton.
Excerpt – Scene with the Duke
Neither one of them spoke but smiled at each other when their eyes would meet. With their swift pace and the other carriages on the roadway, conversation would have been difficult. Unless, they wanted to shout. Soon Sheffield had them trotting along Rotten Row at a much slower pace, negotiating his horses in position behind the other riders. He attempted to hold a private conversation many times but the other visitors in the park interrupted him. When he tried for the fifth time to engage her with small talk, only to be disturbed again, he steered them off the path towards the exit. It would seem their ride in the park would end sooner than she thought. Instead, Sheffield turned towards a deserted path and pulled his curricle to a stop. He jumped off and came to her side, pulling her down into his arms, before she questioned his intentions.
As she slid along his body, she became aware of his physical strength. Her hands gripped his arms, so she wouldn’t fall. His arms were tight, hard muscles. His jacket held no padding, unlike most men of the ton. He held her in his embrace for a few seconds longer than he should of, long enough for her to take notice the rest of his body was as firm. It seemed the Duke, was no lightweight dandy, but kept himself in top physical condition. Another strong point in Sheffield’s favor. Sidney admired a man who took care of himself and didn’t waste his time on the pursuits of the unsavory. She knew him to be a man with a scholarly mind but didn’t realize he was one of the physical sorts too.
Her hands lingered on his forearms as her fingers traced the cords of his muscles through his coat. Unaware of what she did, Sidney became lost in her thoughts. She tried to understand the chemistry she felt towards Sheffield when she heard him groan. Startled she raised her head to see his eyes watched her hands. For they were no longer on his arms but wandered to his chest and slid across his stomach. Aghast at herself, for her forward nature, she dragged her hands away and stepped out of his grasp. Flustered, she turned away and wandered further along the wooded path. What had come over her? She pressed her gloved hands to her face to cool off the burn of embarrassment. Rushing away, she stumbled over a tree root, only to have her elbow grasped and righted again. Sheffield stopped her and spun her around towards him.
“Alex. Alexander if you like the more proper form, only my grandmother refers to me by my full name.”
“Your Grace,” she began again.
“Alex, say it Sidney,” he stressed in his arrogant tone he used when he expected his demand to be granted.
“As I was saying, Sheffield,” she tried for the third time, but he interrupted her when he drew her into his arms.
“I don’t think you were saying anything as much as you were touching me, my dear,” he whispered.
Alex reached to untie her bonnet from under her chin. He swept the hat off her head and stray curls caressed her face as the wind blew around them. He reached to tuck them behind her ears, his fingers sliding over the silken tresses. When her hands caressed his body, he felt comfort from her touch. It was no blinding attraction, but it felt nice. He could work with nice. Her hands were gentle, and he sensed her curiosity as she explored. He also realized her reaction towards him embarrassed her and he wanted to put her at ease. If along the way he was able to sample a taste of her, to finalize his decision on her being a perfect match for him, all the better. If her kiss satisfied him, then he could proceed with making arrangements with her father and call off the rest of her suitors.
He ran his fingers along her cheek and tipped her face under her chin with his knuckles, for their eyes to meet. He began to lower his head for a kiss when he heard his name being called in the distance. She heard it too, for her eyes grew large and she tried to pull out of his embrace.
“We will finish this another time,” he informed her before releasing her from his grasp.
writing, I am spending time with my family. I love reading books on
lazy afternoons, and late into the night. Anytime really. Married 28
years to the love of my life and we have three wonderful children and
two sweet grandbabies. Besides writing, I have always wanted to
travel. In the last few years we have gotten our passport stamped in
England, Scotland, and Ireland. We are hoping to add Italy to the
list soon. My debut novel is Rescued By the Captain.
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