Devil’s Duke Series Book #3
by Katharine Ashe
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
About the Book
Katharine Ashe continues her lush and sensual Devil’s Duke series with a sweeping story of unbreakable love.
Six years ago, when Lady Amarantha Vale was an innocent in a foreign land and Gabriel Hume was a young naval officer, they met . . . and played with fire.
Now Gabriel is the dark lord known to society as the Devil’s Duke, a notorious recluse hidden away in a castle in the Highlands. Only Amarantha knows the truth about him, and she won’t be intimidated. He is the one man who can give her the answers she needs.
But Gabriel cannot let her learn his darkest secret. So begins a game of wit and desire that proves seduction is more satisfying—and much more wicked—the second time around…
They found blankets woven of soft wool and tins of biscuits. They had no lamp, which Gabriel said was for the better, and she accepted that without comment. As the storm lashed the shop above and water trickled through the seams of the window, and darkness fell, they found a cask of new rum. She said that she had never tasted rum, and asked if, being a Scot, he preferred whiskey. He replied that he did, but that any grog in a storm would do.
She smiled so readily, as though her lips were more accustomed to smiling than not. Despite her obvious breeding, there was no maidenly modesty in her frankness. It was on the tip of his tongue to say that over both whiskey and rum he already preferred her.
She discovered sugar, which he added to the rum to make it more palatable for her, and she sipped warily. As the daylight waned and she explored the contents of crates and barrels, she darted glances at him—frequently.
She spoke with ease but she came no nearer to him than necessary. When the black night consumed every last wisp of light she ceased speaking. As the hurricane shook the walls, Gabriel settled onto the ground with his back against a crate. Closing his eyes, he made himself picture the Theia bobbing violently at anchor in some nearby port, its decks flooded in foam but its crew and officers tucked into some terrestrial haven.
No time left for repentance. He had thought he and Jonah would have plenty of time. Sailors perished every day at sea, but somehow he had believed them untouchable.
Invincible, Gabe. That’s what the storytellers will say of us someday. Invincible.
In the heavy darkness, her scent came to him again. Like home. Not the mossy grass of the mountains of Kallin, nor the wildflowers that carpeted the hills of Haiknayes. She smelled of woodland fir: crisp and warm and rich.
The room rattled and he felt her settle silently at his side.
“How did you come to be here in this cellar?” she said very quietly. She was close to his shoulder, closer than he had anticipated.
“I was watching for a ship. You?”
“I walked to post a letter and got caught up with exploring. Everything here is so different and interesting. I was far from the hotel before I thought to turn around.” She made a sound that might have been a sigh. “I failed to heed the warnings.”
“Dinna fear, lass. ‘Twill be morning before long.”
“You are lying again, Shark Bait.” Then he felt the pressure of her body against his arm, her shoulder leaning in. “But this time I don’t mind it.”
He did not move. He could not move. He wanted her bone and flesh pressing against his so simply. Perhaps in these final hours that had come far too soon in his life, God was offering him mercy, a moment of innocent pleasure after all the moments of sinful pleasure he had seized.
Something bumped against his leg. Then her fingers slipped beneath his hand. Her clasp was unhesitating, her fingertips brushing across his palm then pressing tight against his knuckles. Palm to palm with her, he strove to breathe and his heartbeats flew at twelve knots.
“You are lying to comfort me,” she said, “so that I will not dwell on how we are about to die.”
“Am I?” Only thin wooden walls and ceiling separated them from death, and yet the touch of a girl’s hand was all he cared for now.
“You are,” she whispered clearly and softly beneath the storm’s scream. “It seems that I will be obliged to reconsider my poor opinion of sailors. One sailor, at least.”
Blindly he turned his face to her. He was in fact a beast of a man, and she was a little thing that he could crush with a single arm, and he knew he should not be holding her hand, not even in this circumstance.
He bent his head closer. “Aye?”
She did not reply and her hand remained snugly in his and the night raged on.
About Katharine Ashe
KATHARINE ASHE is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including her acclaimed Devil’s Duke Series, and My Lady, My Lord and How to Marry a Highlander, 2015 and 2014 finalists for the romance industry’s most prestigious award, the RITA®.
Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too.