Feb 2 2013 10:00am

First Look: Juliana Gray’s A Duke Never Yields (February 5, 2013)

A Duke Never Yields by Juliana GrayJuliana Gray
A Duke Never Yields
Berkley / February 5, 2013 / $7.99 print & digital

Impatient with the strictures of polite British society, Miss Abigail Harewood has decided to live life on her own terms—and the first thing she requires is a lover. When the commanding Duke of Wallingford arrives on the doorstep of her leased holiday castle, she thinks she’s found the perfect candidate: handsome, dashing, and experienced in the art of love.

But tempting Wallingford into her bed proves more difficult than she imagined. Restless and dissatisfied with his debauched life in London, the formerly rakish duke is determined to spend a year chaste. But as Abigail tries her best to seduce him, Wallingford finds his resolve crumbling in the face of her irresistible charm…and her alluring secrets.

At the advanced age of 23, Abigail Harewood knew what she wanted. She wanted a lover, an experienced lover to bring her to the heights of ecstasy. She knew that they would have a wonderful passion-filled affair until such time, after the shedding a few tears, they would go their separate ways. She has taken a great deal of care to plan out exactly how it should go.

After watching her beloved sister and her cousin, both at one time lively and gregarious, change dreadfully due to their horrible, loveless marriages, Abby has vowed to herself she would never enter into those bonds of matrimony, and allow a faithless man and the duties of a title change who she was. Yes, a lover is just what she wanted, and upon meeting the very handsome and very notorious Duke of Wallingford, she knew he would be the perfect man to teach her the raptures to be found in the bedroom. Yet how does one broach the subject of his becoming her first lover? Straightforward, of course.

And who would have thought the Duke of Wallingford—so decidedly, deliciously unchaste—would take the matter all so dashed seriously? Instead of gazing enraptured at the curve of her bosom, he had glowered fiercely. Instead of dragging her into a passionate embrace when he had encountered her in the twilit shadows of the spring-warmed garden, he had turned on his heel and stalked back into the house.

Really, was it something she’d said?

How can a notorious rake of the ton possibly say no to a willing, and reasonably pretty, young woman? Abby is flummoxed when Wallingford turns down her proposal. But fate is on her side, when it turns out that Abby and her party and Wallingford and his party have both leased the same Castle in Italy for the year, she has nothing but time to beat down his defenses.

For a man of known libertine tendencies, the Duke of Wallingford was proving remarkably difficult to seduce.

Abigail thought it would be a simple matter to begin her first love affair, once she had chosen her subject. She was ready, she was willing, she was reasonably appealing, at least to the indiscriminate male palate.

The trouble was, the duke was making himself distinctly unavailable.

So when Wallingford finally begins to concede to the attraction between them and his willingness to take her to bed, Abby should be deliriously happy, and she was until he added the condition of marriage to the arrangement. Really? He seriously believes that she, Abigail Harewood, who has sworn never to marry, would enter into marriage to the most notorious rake in England? He must be mad.

“I don’t want to be your wife. I’ve told you that already.” She placed the bridle in his hand, and foolishly he looked at her face, at her dancing tip-turned eyes, at her radiant smile. “Aside from the stifling effects of marriage itself, there is your character to consider.”

He snatched the bridle away. The airiness in his chest collapsed upon itself with a puff. “My character is perfectly good.”

“Oh, of course. You’re quite the most interesting libertine I’ve ever known.” She sighed and shook her head. “But you are, after all, a libertine.”

“I am not a libertine.”

“And rakes don’t reform,” she went on, as if she hadn’t heard him. “It’s the greatest and cruelest myth perpetuated on womankind, by nature and by literature. A man of libertine nature doesn’t change his ways, not even if he falls in love, not even if he marries for love. Sooner or later, his instinctive natural craving for new female flesh overcomes whatever love and loyalty he feels to his wife. Look at your own father.”

Now that there is no longer any doubt of their mutual attraction, from this instant on it just a battle of wills. Abby will use all her feminine wiles to seduce Wallingford to be her lover, and Wallingford will use his considerable charms to convince Abby to walk with him down the aisle. With each further encounter, you know there can be no losers in this war.


Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.

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