Distracting the Duke
by Elizabeth Keysian
Publication Date: February 20, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Historical Romance
Devonshire, England, 1820
Determined to avoid the strife-filled marriage of his parents, Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, wants an amenable, biddable wife, and has set his cap for a certain pretty miss. Unfortunately, her vastly opinionated, frustrating, and lamentably beautiful guardian, Lady Clara Tinniswood, keeps distracting him, tempting him to consider a far more tempestuous—and passionate—union.
Recently widowed Lady Clara Tinniswood wants only to organize a quiet new life for herself, beyond the control of any man. But one shockingly unguarded moment while confronted by Marcus’s gloriously naked body catapults her headlong into a forbidden passion and threatens to undermine all her well-laid plans.
Even if Marcus abandons his sweet ideal and surrenders to his growing desire for Clara, there’s one unalterable issue which could destroy their hopes forever…
MUSIC PLAYLIST for DISRACTING THE DUKE with commentary by author Elizabeth Keysian
- 1. The Kiss by Trevor Jones from Last of the Mohicans movie soundtrack– it floats me away and I travel back in time to the Eighteenth Century
- What a Beautiful Day by The Levellers– catchy and uplifting
- The Firth of Fifth by Genesis– just an amazing piano instrumental
- The Bells of Rhymney by Oysterband– stirs the blood
- Mr. Blue Sky by ELO– a cheering reminder of the fun parts of my teenage years!
- No Man’s Land by June Tabor– I can’t sing this without a catch in my throat and a tear in my eye.
- Amoureuse by Kiki Dee– evokes the magic of “The First Time”
- Ramble On by Led Zeppelin– departure and loss
- Blowin’ Free by Wishbone Ash– poetic and atmospheric
- Thank You by Led Zeppelin– eternal love
- Lady Fantasy by Camel– love, magic and atmosphere- something every good HEA romance should have!
Clara crept softly across the carpet of pine needles until she came to where a rivulet split the dunes on its way down to the sea, and halted. She caught sight of Ulvercombe standing at the water’s edge with his back to her, hands on his hips.
She stepped aside swiftly, her heart beating hard. She would have to hide behind one of the dunes to avoid being seen, if he should turn round. Fortunately, the tide was still some way out and he was thus a considerable distance away, giving her time to make her escape if he spotted her.
Plucking off the old shawl she was wearing, she spread it over the grass-matted dune, then lay down on her stomach so only her head—with the telescope pressed to her eye—might be seen. Hopefully, with the waving sea grasses fanning across in front of her, she was well-hidden from any casual observer.
Eventually, she managed to locate Ulvercombe with the glass, and when she did her mouth dropped open in shock. In the time she’d taken to settle herself, he’d stripped off boots, stockings, jacket, and breeches, and now stood in nothing but his shirt, looking out to sea.
Clearly, the man had every expectation of being alone, and had no idea he was being covertly observed. It was early in the morning, it was his beach, his pine forest, his sand. She should back away and return to the house as quickly as possible.
A small attempt to move was made, but then he pulled his shirt over his head and she was transfixed.
The muscles rippled across his shoulders and she recalled, far too quickly, the feel of that hot body pressed against hers.
“Drat it!” The glass lens against her face had misted.
Crossly, she rubbed it with a corner of her shawl, and scanned the beach again until she found the duke.
The completely naked duke.
Her breath hitched in her throat. “Sweet Lord in heaven…”
It was not the splendid symmetry of his body, nor the very pleasing curve of his buttocks, nor even the straightness and supple power of his legs that had elicited her exclamation of shock.
It was the scars.
She hadn’t seen the backs of his thighs when he’d disrobed that day in his bedchamber. Now she could see them very clearly, and she could also see a complex pattern of pale, crisscross lines etched across the skin. They were scars, surely?
Had he received them in battle or in some horrible accident? Had he been taken prisoner and tortured by the French? Maybe he’d been involved in a fire and something hot had branded him thus.
The chance to observe the marks more closely was abruptly removed as the duke, who had been walking straight out into the waves, suddenly dove in with a splash and began swimming out to sea with deft, powerful strokes.
She shuddered. The water must be absolutely freezing. How could he stand it?
“Good morning, Lady Tinniswood. A very fine one, is it not?”
And so my love affair with historicals now is still intact. Every historical that I have read lately has been awesome. And they have all been so different from each other, too. I won’t go into why historicals are so much a hit and miss with me so I’ll just share with you why Clara and Marcus just rocked in my book.
- Clara – I can’t even imagine what she went through with her first husband. The abuse, the horror, and then finally the ultimate betrayal. Again, I can’t even…but what I truly liked about her was the fact that she would actually admit it to Marcus. Of course, she felt shame but when she realized that Marcus was nothing like her dead husband learned to trust him, it was golden. She also stood up to him. He wanted someone biddable but what he got was her. Brilliant dialogue when they were together.
- Marcus – What a revelation. He was kind, a little bit backhanded (in a good way) and once his heart was set on Clara, he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I loved how he wound up testing her when it came to her fears but Ms. Keysian wrote it brilliantly. Again, it is her dialogue between the characters that had me from the very first page. Marcus had NO shame when it came to showing Clara his body. The above scene had me giggling. He never forgot that she was a widow but what he didn’t realize at the time was how traumatized she was from her first marriage.
- The smexy times are NOT plentiful but the build up is SO worth it. Ms. Keysian had me fanning myself at times and that was before the dead was actually done. Well played, well played.
- The secondary characters are wonderfully written. I can’t wait to read about Ellie and Snetty. Oh, my…If I had one complaint, I didn’t like Clara’s brother Phillip in the beginning. He kinda came off as a shrew. I understand the why but I still didn’t like him that much.
- The setting – I’m a sucker for England and especially the English countryside. Like another English author I know, she knows what she writes about when it comes to the setting of the book.
Did I mention that not once, NOT ONCE in the book was bored with the ton. This is a character driven novel about two people that shouldn’t fall in love with each but do. The getting there is half the fun of the book and I have to say that I don’t even know what Clara wore in the book. She had a bonnet, a shawl, and a thin summer cotton nightgown. Why do I mention this? Because I didn’t have to skip a bunch of paragraphs/pages with all the details that bore me to death. Again, characters are key for me in a historical romance and Ms. Keysian wrote it that way. Of course, I don’t think I’ll look at skinny dipping the same way again.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book. Just for me, please. You will not be disappointed at all. It has all the romance of a historical, some family issues but now the filler that irritates so much.
ABOUT ELIZABETH KEYSIAN
Elizabeth Keysian felt destined to write historical romance due to her Cornish descent, and an ancestral connection to the Norse god Odin. Being an only child gave her plenty of time to read, create imaginary worlds, produce her own comics, and write sketches and a deplorably bad musical for an amateur dramatics group.
Three decades spent working in museums and archaeology fired Elizabeth’s urge to write, as did living on a Knights Templar estate, with a garage full of skeletons, a resident ghost and a moat teeming with newts.
Elizabeth lives near Bath in England with her partner and cats.