Today is one of my favorite Romance author's birthday - Gaelen Foley.
I hope you'll join me in wishing her a very Happy Birthday today and enjoy a treat from her wonderful Regency Romance, MY DANGEROUS DUKE.
MY DANGEROUS DUKE is the second in a series called the Inferno Club series. The Inferno Club is a gathering of wealthy libertines and highborn rakes devoted to their pleasures and scandals. Well, that's the way they are known to London Society but the truth is they have a much greater purpose. London society suspects little of the danger that looms over England or the real enemies whom these select and powerful lords are secretly sworn to fight.
The Inferno Club series consists of three novels as of date but will soon be joined by a fourth which all who follow the series anxiously await.
- the second is MY DANGEROUS DUKE, Rohan's story or rather the Duke of Warrington's
- the third is MY IRRESISTIBLE EARL, Jordan's story or rather the Earl of Falconridge's
But today, in honor of Ms. Foley's birthday and because I promised you a man with secrets and a castle, we're going to visit with Rohan Kilburn, the Duke of Warrington. So without further ado, let me introduce you to him in an excerpt from MY DANGEROUS DUKE by Gaelen Foley:
His expression inscrutable, Eldred the butler glanced at Kate, but was apparently too shrewd to ask any questions. He turned away, lifting his lantern high. "This way, please. The master is expecting you."
Their whole party followed as Eldred led them down a tall, shadowy corridor, all stone and aged plaster and carved dark wood. Kate stumbled along on her frozen feet, staring all around her. She had never been in a castle before, but it was hard to believe that anyone could actually live in such a place.
It was not a home, it was a fortress, a mighty barracks left over from the days of knights and dragons.
Everything was dark and hard, cold and threatening. Ancient weapons, shields and pieces of armor, tattered battle flags hung on the walls instead of paintings. There was not one cozy thing about it, yet perversely, despite its unwelcoming atmosphere, the castle's historical significance made her forget her dread for one or two seconds as her scholar's unquenchable curiosity was roused about the place, the battles it had seen, and all the other mysterious things that might have happened here over the centuries.
Then she noticed her captors becoming increasingly nervous.
"'Hoy, Eldred." Caleb leaned toward the butler as they trudged down a darkly paneled corridor. "How's his mood tonight?"
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
"The Beast!" he whispered. "Is he in a foul temper?"
The butler eyed him in disapproval. "I'm sure I couldn't say."
"So, that's a yes," Calen muttered.
Then Eldred led them into a cavernous great hall with a soaring vaulted ceiling.
Darkness clustered thickly between arching beams. Moldering tapestries draped the side walls here and there. Overlooking the room, a small balcony - the ministrel's gallery - jutted slightly from the far wall. Closer to hand, several pieces of thick, ancient furniture provided barren comfort.
Two black-clad guards, like those stationed at the gatehouse, were posted in the nearest corners. They stood at attention, as immovable as the ancient suits of armor that adorned the great hall.
The only real sign of life glowed from the blazing bonfire in the yawning fireplace, far away down at the dais end of the hall - and it was there that Kate caught her first glimpse of the Beast.
She knew at once that it was he.
The huge, crackling power of his presence filled the hall before he even turned around. His back to them, the Duke of Warrington stood before the fire, a towering figure silhouetted against the flames.
He was toying with a large, strange weapon with a long, notched blade, some sort of deadly cross between a lance and a sword. Balancing it on its tip, he twirled it slowly in a most ominous fashion.
Edred announced them with a polite cough. "Ahem, Your Grace: Caleb Doyle and company."
He lifted the weapon, resting the bar of its long handle on his huge shoulder.
Her heart leaped up into her throat as the iron giant slowly pivoted to face them. He paused, studying them from across the hall with a dissecting stare.
Then he began prowling toward them, his long paces unhurried yet relentless: a medieval warlord in modern-day clothes. Each fall of his mud-flecked boots boomed in the hollow vastness of the chamber.
Kate's mouth hung open slightly as she stared at him in fear and some degree of awe.
Caleb whipped off his hat and took a couple of steps forward, gesturing to his men to do the same.
The smuggler's party advanced in cringing dread, with Kate in the center.
Her stare locked on the warrior duke as he sauntered closer. She searched in vain for any sign of softness in the man, instead, a capacity for ruthless force emanated from him. He was hard and dark and dangerous, intimidation incarnate.
It was clear he had just arrived, his wild, windblown mane of thick sable hair tied back in a queue. She studied him, wide-eyed. The dark knotted cloth around his neck was nothing so formal as a cravat. His loose white shirt hung open a bit at the neck, disappearing into a black waistcoat that hugged his lean, sculpted torso.
Rain and sleet still dotted his black riding breeches, while the reddish firelight gleamed on the blade that he wielded so idly as he advanced, as though he'd been born with it in his hand.
Heart pounding, Kate could not take her eyes off him.
He appeared to be in his midthirties; she scanned his square, rugged face as he drew closer. He had thick, dark eyebrows with a scar above the left like the mark of a thunderbolt. His skin was unfashionably bronzed, as though he had spent years in sunnier climes. His nose was broad but straight, the grim set of his hard mouth bracketed by lines.
His eyes were terrifying.
Steeley in color and expression, they were narrowed with suspicion, their depths gleaming with a banked fury that she realized was waiting to unleash on the smugglers - and might take out on her, as well, before the night was through.
Dear God, he could kill her easily, she understood at once. The man was huge, nearly six and a half feet tall, with arms of iron, and shoulders like the Cornish cliffs. He looked stong enough to lift a horse, while she only came up to the center of his massive chest.
No wonder the smugglers were terrified of him, despite Caleb's claim to the contrary back at the village. Warrington had the imposing physique of a conqueror, and all the worldly power of the aristocracy's highest rank, save the royal family.
She tried to back away as the duke stalked closer, running a bold stare over the length of her.
"What's this?" he growled softly at Doyle, nodding at her. She reacted instinctively to his notice, pulling against her captors' hold in panic. She tried to run.
They stopped her. [to be continued]
I fear you'll have to get your own copy of MY DANGEROUS DUKE by Gaelen Foley to find out what happens to poor Kate in the hands of the Beast. Don't forget to get the others in the Inferno Club series including the fourth - MY RUTHLESS PRINCE - coming in December!
Happy Reading Everyone and Happy Birthday Gaelen!!!