How to Tame Your Duke

By: Juliana Gray

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I started the month of May 2012 as an impatient writer-in-waiting. Now, with the release of How to Tame Your Duke in June 2013, I find myself the exhausted author of six books in print: four historical romances as Juliana Gray, and two general romantic fiction titles as Beatriz Williams. Such excess could not occur without the heroic support of a great many wonderful people. Among them:

My agent and personal superhero, Alexandra Machinist, and the entire team of professionals at Janklow & Nesbit who execute so flawlessly on every front: thank you, thank you for allowing me to focus on writing alone.

My Berkley editor, Kate Seaver, whose sound advice and excellent taste improve every book; her assistant, Katherine Pelz, a miracle of organization; my meticulous copy editor, who keeps my timelines straight and my hyphens invisible; Erin Galloway, publicist of boundless energy; and all the talented and enthusiastic teams in art, production, marketing, and sales.

My husband, children, and in-laws, whose patience and love are essential and unending.

The best readers in the world, whose emails and Facebook comments inspire me daily.

And the greatest gift of all this past year: those countless instances of breathtaking generosity from the writing and romance communities. You enrich my life. There are no words big enough to thank you.





PROLOGUE





London, England

October 1889

At two o’clock in the morning, as a cold autumn rain drummed against the damask-shrouded windowpanes of his Park Lane town house, the Duke of Olympia was awoken by his valet and told that three ladies awaited him downstairs in his private study.

“Three ladies, did you say?” asked Olympia, as he might say three copulating hippopotamuses.

“Yes, sir. And two attendants.”

“In my study?”

“I thought it best, sir,” said the valet. “The study is situated at the back of the house.”

Olympia stared at the ducal canopy above his head. “Isn’t it Ormsby’s job to take care of such matters? Turn the women away, or else toss them into the upstairs bedchambers until morning.”

The valet adjusted the sleeve of his dressing gown. “Mr. Ormsby elected to refer the matter to me, Your Grace, as an affair of a personal nature, requiring Your Grace’s immediate attention.” His voice flexed minutely on the word immediate. “The attendants, of course, are in the kitchen.”

Olympia’s ears gave a twinge. His sleep-darkened mind began to awaken and spark, like a banked fire brought back to life by a surly housemaid. “I see,” he said. He continued to stare into the canopy. The pillow beneath his head was of finest down encased in finest linen, cradling his skull in weightless lavender-scented comfort. Beneath the heavy bedcovers, his body made a warm cocoon into the softness of the mattress. He removed one hand from this haven and plucked the nightcap from his head. “Three ladies, did you say?”

“Yes, sir. And a dog.” The valet made his disapproval of the dog apparent without the smallest change of voice.

“A corgi, I believe. And the ladies: two auburn and one fair?”

“Yes, sir.”

Olympia sat up and heaved a sigh. “I’ve been expecting them.”

Eight minutes later, in a yellow dressing gown rioting with British lions, with his silvering hair neatly brushed and his chin miraculously shaved, the Duke of Olympia opened the door to his private study in a soundless whoosh.

“Good morning, my dears,” he said cordially.

The three ladies jumped in their three chairs. The corgi launched himself into the air and landed, legs splayed, atop the priceless Axminster rug, on which he promptly disgraced himself.

“I beg your pardon,” Olympia said. “Don’t rise, I implore you.”

The three ladies dropped back into the chairs, except the auburn-haired youngest, who scooped up the dog with a reproving whisper.

“Your Grace,” said the eldest, “I apologize most abjectly for the irregularity of our arrival. I hope we have not put out your household. We meant not to disturb you until morning . . .”

“Except that wretched new butler of yours, Ormsby or whatever the devil his name was . . .” burst out the youngest.

“Stefanie, my dear!” exclaimed the eldest.

Olympia smiled and shut the door behind him with a soft click. He stepped toward the center of the room and stopped before the first chair. “Luisa, dear child. How well you look, in spite of everything.” He took her hand and squeezed it. “A very great pleasure to see you again, Your Highness, after so many years.”

“Oh, Uncle.” A blush spread across Luisa’s pale cheeks, and her hollow blue-eyed gaze seemed to fill a trifle. “You’re terribly kind.”

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