TO THE DUKE, WITH LOVE – Amelia Grey
The Rakes of St. James , Book 2
St. Martin's Paperbacks
ISBN 10: 1250102510
ISBN 13: 978125010251
England, Early 19th Century
At eighteen, Loretta Quick backed out of a marriage arranged by her uncle, the Earl of Switchingham, while the guests gathered at the church. It angered her uncle so much he made her vow to never marry. He then estranged her to a distant property, Mammoth House. She is isolated there with her brother, Paxton, except Paxton remains in society. He stays when he is not traveling around England or in London. Most of society believes the rumor she entered a convent, but none actually know her uncle isolated her far from society.
The Duke of Hawksthorn, Sloan Knox, who goes by Hawk, slowly slogs his way through a cold drizzle of rain to Mammoth House. He has an appointment with Paxton Quick to bespeak an engagement between the young man, an earl's nephew, and Sloan's sister Adele. Adele's debut season begins soon, and Hawk wants to protect his sister. Someone might seek revenge on him for his own youthful scandal involving his friends, the other two Rakes of St. James, the Dukes of Griffin and Rathburne, and the reputations of twelve debutantes. He walks a convoluted path he didn't expect, leading his lame horse. Once he arrives, he discovers Paxton never received his missive. The young man has been absent from Mammoth House for three weeks. Instead he meets Loretta. When he tells her of his mission, she is against any arranged marriage. The two should be able to choose for themselves. He knows Loretta's story, and of her abandoning society, but how did he miss this engaging and challenging woman during her only season? His fascination grows the longer he is with her.
Hawk also captivates Loretta, but she knows she can have no expectations. She knows his history as she has kept up with Miss Honora Truth's Scandal Sheet . While he is at Mammoth House, Hawk learns of Loretta's predicament. He also saves the life of a young boy, Farley, who came to the house begging for food. Farley adds another dimension to the atmosphere at Mammoth House when he falls desperately ill. His story and back history does the same for the Hawk and Loretta's story. After Hawk goes back to London, he makes a vow to himself to rescue this lady from her imprisonment and get her to London, while still determined to make a match between their respective siblings.