Addicted to the Duke

An Imperfect Lords Novel

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A lovestruck lady charms the duke of her dreams during an expedition on the high seas in this sexy, swashbuckling novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans.

Alexander Sylvester Bracken, Duke of Bedford, has a mission: sail to the Mediterranean and track down Lady Hestia Cary’s missing father. It is a straightforward task, but for two rather vexing complications. First, the sea holds painful memories; second, for her own safety, Hestia is to accompany him. As Alex battles the demons of his past, he must also resist Hestia’s surprisingly skillful attempts at seduction. After all, Alex has sworn to leave her untouched, and he intends to honor that vow—until he can properly ask the Earl’s blessing.

Ever since His Grace rescued Hestia from the arms of a Turkish pirate six long years ago, her heart has belonged to Alex. So when he agrees to help find her father, Hestia is thrilled. Although Alex tries to hide it, there’s passion in his eyes—and a frisson of desire in the air—whenever they meet. On board ship, miles from home, Alex won’t be able to deny her any longer. But with scoundrels lying in wait, she may not live to tell the tale of her conquest.

Look for the enchanting Disgraced Lords series from Bronwen Evans:
And don’t miss her novels in the Imperfect Lords series:

Praise for Addicted to the Duke

“Regency romance fans looking for something just a bit different will adore this one from [Bronwen] Evans.”Library Journal

“I would happily recommend this book and am looking forward to the next installment!”—Flippin’ Pages Book Review Blog
“No stranger to adventure, Ms. Evans knows how to thrill readers with her courageous heroes and tempting heroines. This time around she steps up her game and sets the action on the high seas. A wounded warrior battles his inner demons while fighting against the advances of a sexy siren on the quest for answers. As the mystery unfolds the seduction begins. Bronwen Evans doesn’t do dull and Addicted to the Duke explains why.”—I Love Romance 

“Ms. Evans combines high seas adventure with sizzling romance that will keep you turning pages long into the night. Her books just keep getting better and better.”—Ashlyn Macnamara, author of What a Lady Requires

“I was glued to the pages of Alex and Hestia’s story, from the first page to the last.”—My Book Addiction and More
Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Under the Cover

An excerpt from Addicted to the Duke

Chapter 1

London 1815

Even Alex would struggle to describe the euphoria of a woman’s mouth on him while lost in a haze of induced bliss. One tiny drop of laudanum in a glass of brandy and every sense heightened, every nerve in his body sang.
The pleasure was indescribable.

Wave after wave of overwhelming satisfaction swamped his body as he lost himself in the skillful ministrations of Lady Dianne’s lips, teeth, and hot mouth.

He’d contrived to spend a wonderful afternoon pleasuring the young widow, his current paramour, as soon as he’d arrived in London for the season. While spending the winter on his estate, Bracken Park, with his young sisters and brothers present, he’d forsworn female company, preferring to work hard and embrace his family.
He’d made up for lost time this afternoon, the laudanum helping his staying power considerably.

It was a pity that tonight he had a previous engagement or he would have suggested she stay. Still, perhaps later he could climb up the ivy hanging below Dianne’s bedchamber and continue her enthusiastic education in the arts of lovemaking.

On that thought he lay back and gave himself over to her. She sucked him so deep he hit the back of her throat, and all too soon he reached his pinnacle. No longer able to resist the sensations, he plunged over the edge into the cavern of self-gratification. The colors of his release blinded his mind and he cried out, his heart almost thundering out of his chest.

As he came down from the heavens he thanked God that she was a fast and eager learner. Dianne too appeared to be making up for the two years she’d been married to a man old enough to be her grandfather.

Still, he would not judge others. One did what one must to survive. Years ago he’d learned life was not a fairy tale. It was dark, dirty, dangerous, and hard. People were flawed. He’d always believed no one was perfect—except of course his bloody father, the Perfect Duke, as he’d been called.

Trust the memory of his father to arrive and diminish his euphoria.

He struggled to hold on to his blissful stupor as Dianne crawled up his body and laid her beautiful face against his sweat-soaked chest.

“You’re wonderful, but I’m exhausted. I need to sleep for a week to keep up with you.” She paused before quietly saying, “I missed you so.”

He would not lie and say he missed her. He missed sex, but not her in particular. He was not capable of a deeper emotion. They had begun their affair on one of his sudden trips to London a few months ago. He’d needed release from the dark memories crowding in on him at home. Usually his family and work dimmed his nightmares. He hoped this extended stay would serve him well for the next few months.

“I’m here for the season, sweeting. By the end of the season you’ll understand what it is to be exhausted.”

She giggled and snuggled closer. “I don’t suppose you’d accompany me to Lady Blighwell’s ball on Thursday night.”

He stiffened. He did not go to society engagements with his paramours. That spoke of commitment. Spoke of a relationship. No. What was Dianne thinking? He was not interested in anything other than stolen moments of mutual pleasure. He thought he’d made that clear.

His mother did mention the obligation he had to settle down. Suggesting he needed someone to help him in his duties and give him children. He was in no hurry to marry. The idea of bringing children into this world scared him to death. The world was such a cruel and unjust place.

The imperfect son of the Perfect Duke should not procreate. He had two younger brothers for that. Besides, he was no saint where women were concerned and he’d never fathered a child. He was certain he couldn’t. It did not concern him because he didn’t want to bring any child of his into this desperate and sinful world.

He turned on his side to face her and cupped her chin in his hand. “I don’t want to hurt you Dianne, but I’m not courting you. I thought I’d made the boundaries of our affair clear. Mutual sexual pleasure is all I’m capable of sharing with you.”

He watched her swallow and blink rapidly. She nodded. “I know. It’s just I realize how much I missed you these past months and . . . I’m lonely.”

He pressed a light kiss to her lips. “You’re young and beautiful; any man would be lucky to have you as his wife. If you are lonely then go and find a man who is worthy of you and marry again. You no longer have to choose a husband for money, so choose wisely. But I’m not that man.”

She turned away and sat on the edge of the bed, her back to him. “You’re right. I deserve someone who wants to be with me, not just for pleasure.”

He nodded, even though she could not see him do so.

She looked at him over her shoulder, her face a wealth of sadness. “I don’t think I should be engaged in a torrid affair if I’m looking for a perfect man to wed. That would not be in good taste.”

“No it wouldn’t. I fully understand.”

“You don’t even care that I’m calling this—whatever it is—off, do you?”

He slid over the bed to wrap his arms around her. “I care that you are happy. It looks as though I’m making you unhappy and I care deeply about that. Life is too short to spend it on regrets.”

She sat studying him before finally reaching out and cupping his cheek. “You helped me experience passion, something I never had in my marriage. It means I know what I want in a husband and I’ll not settle for less.”

“You are too beautiful, kind, and”—he could barely say the word—“perfect to settle for anything less than what your heart desires.”

“I’ll never regret my time with you.”

“Nor me, sweeting.”

His hand fell away, and a part of him he tried to keep locked behind a fortress in his chest kicked a thumping beat.

Jumping out of bed he reached for a robe and walked to the door of the bedchamber. He never took his paramours to his room. This room was a guest room, set up because of the discreet access to the servants’ back stairs, which led to the back of the house and his coaching stable. Ladies could come and go unobserved in his unmarked carriage.

“I shall send up my servant Juliette to help you dress. Feel free to stay and bathe if you wish. However, I’m due at the explorers club this evening.” It was more a gathering of like-minded friends than a club. They met to discuss their travels, especially when any one of them had been far afield.

As his hand found the door latch he hesitated. “Thank you, Dianne. In my own way I will miss you.”

- About the author -

USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She has always indulged her love of storytelling and is constantly gobbling up movies, books, and theater. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer? Evans is a two-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

More from Bronwen Evans

Addicted to the Duke

An Imperfect Lords Novel

Addicted to the Duke

— Published by Loveswept —