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The Duke's Schoolgirl Bride

By: Bryony Kildare
Published By: Blushing Press
Copyright: ©2017 by Blushing Books® and Bryony Kildare
Ten Chapters / 43,000 Words
Heat Level:
4.5 Out Of 5 (4.5 on 11)   |  Write a review

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When eighteen-year-old Eliza Cross agrees to visit her school friend, Lady Celia, at her home for the summer, it's immediately clear how out of place she is at Caerdon Abbey. Eliza, orphan and charity student, can't help feeling different from the aristocracy who are living their lives in luxury. But when Celia's brother, Alan, the handsome Duke of Caerdon, comes home from France, Eliza finds herself irresistibly attracted to him – especially after he disciplines her on the very first morning after they meet.

Alan knows Eliza isn't someone his mother would consider marriage material but he can't stop thinking about her, no matter how hard he tries. A whirlwind courtship leads to a secret wedding, but when Alan is suddenly called to diplomatic service, Eliza is left on her own to keep her secret until he returns. Can the Duke's schoolgirl bride hide the truth? And can she bear the consequences if she does?

Publisher's Note: A sweet Victorian love story with passionate scenes and stern, aristocratic discipline. If any of these subjects are not to your liking, please do not open the pages.

*** Currently available exclusively at Amazon ***

Chapter One

It was a balmy evening and Alan's mare, Arabella, cantered up the well-known road towards Caerdon Abbey at a gentle pace. The moon peeked out through the clouds now and again, lighting them with a luminous radiance, and the air was soft and fresh. It felt wonderfully clean and quiet after being in Paris so long, and Alan slowed his horse still further, in no hurry to arrive and end his journey, though he was later in arriving than he had meant and would not now be able to surprise his family until morning unless he chose to wake them out of a sound sleep. Smiling, he lifted his face to the sleeping house where all the lights were dimmed, grateful his diplomatic assignment had at last been dispatched so that home was now his business, as it should be.

But the house was not quite sleeping, and the lights were not quite all dimmed. For even as Alan fondly gazed up at the Abbey, a light flashed in the upstairs windows. Two short, three long, two short. He blinked, wondering if he had been fooled by some trick of the moonlight passing through the trees to glint off the window. Narrowing his eyes, he leaned forward in the saddle to peer. But there it was again, after a pause—the exact same signal. And upon seeing it again, Alan had no need to count windows to know which one it must be flashing from—there was only one person in the house who knew that signal, the one that meant  hasten—his sister, Celia. And there was only one person she ought to have been flashing that signal to, and while Alan might indeed deserve a command to hasten, with such a late approach to the house, she had no reason to suspect he was in the neighborhood or, indeed, the country, that night.

He gritted his teeth and kicked Arabella sharply; the mare gave a little whicker of startled protest at the sudden change in her master's mood but instantly obeyed by lengthening her stride into a run. Celia must have taught their old childhood system of signals to some suitor of hers—and now she was signaling him to hasten, perhaps to climb to her window. Alan gave a grim smile. He would indeed be surprising his family that night, after all, and Celia might count herself lucky if he only disciplined her himself, without informing their mother what she had been up to. The sweet, willful little sister who had intrigued and charmed him for all their childhood had some explanations to make, if she didn't want to end up turned over his knee before dawn. He only hoped the situation hadn't proceeded further than that—better a spanking than arranging a shameful sudden marriage with some country swain!

* * *

Eliza peered anxiously out the window, pulling her dressing gown tighter around her as a breeze lifted her long auburn curls from her shoulders. Celia was so reckless! She had already heard Nanny's step in the hall once, and while the old woman hadn't come in, Eliza was perfectly sure that if she did, Celia's artfully arranged bolster under the sheets wouldn't fool her in the least. The very fact that Nanny was awake was a terrible thing. Eliza chewed her lip nervously and regarded the candle with its makeshift shutter, wondering if she should signal again. No, better not. If Celia was near enough, she must have seen the signal already. And anyway, she must realize she ought to hurry, that every moment only put her in more danger of discovery.

Oh, why had it had to happen like this? Eliza didn't blame Celia  exactly. The dowager duchess, her mother, was so very particular, and old Nanny had a habit of lecturing for three quarters of an hour at a time. And so, when Celia had found an old and very precious Spanish silver and pearl brooch missing when she was undressing that night, she had panicked. It was a family heirloom that Celia had been presented on her sixteenth birthday, along with many warnings about how she must always take the greatest care with it. Eliza had tried to calm her friend down, and together, they managed to work out that it must have come off when they were playing sardines at the picnic down on the bluffs. The vicar's son had hidden in a shrub, and by the time they all came out, there were a great many hairpins lost and shawls snagged.

And Celia would hear of nothing but going to fetch it herself, that very night. The next day, they were paying calls in the afternoon, and if she didn't wear the brooch, her mother would certainly notice, and that would be, Celia said theatrically, the end. If that would be the end, Eliza thought moodily, then being discovered climbing in the window would presumably be a general apocalypse, and she herself would be implicated in the matter as a conspirator. Perhaps Eliza would even be sent back to London for the rest of the summer—it wasn't fair. Celia didn't understand what it meant for her. To her, a long lecture or a whipping was the end of the world. Eliza peered out into the dark night again, desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of Celia's fair head in the garden in the patchy moonlight.

But within a few moments, her patience was rewarded. The great ash tree outside the window began to shake, first slightly, and then the boughs by the window swayed more energetically. Eliza sighed with tremendous relief and leaned well out, ready to give Celia a lift for the final ascent, which was tricky. But to her shock, it was not the face of her mischievous friend that faced her, but a man's face, stern and angry, and he caught her shoulder immediately. "What do you think—" he began roughly and then broke off.

Eliza gave a little terrified cry and jerked back with all her strength. She managed to pull free of the man's grip and drew back into the room. But she hadn't the time or wit to pull the window closed before he was climbing in, still looking stern, though a little less angry. And something in his manner, self-possessed, a man with rights, shifted her fear just a tiny bit. Something in her unconscious mind understood it was not at all the bearing of a man breaking into a house to accost a strange young lady. Still, she backed away until the wall prevented further retreat. Her vivid green eyes were round with confusion and fear. Eliza did not cry aloud or give an alarm, only stared at him as he finished clambering over the sill and stood there, looking at her in the darkness of the room, lit only by the single shuttered candle. "Wh-who are you?" she gasped at last.

"A man may climb in his own window without answering questions, surely?" he tossed back, pushing his thick, dark hair out of his bright blue eyes. "Who the devil are you, and where is my sister?"

His sister? His own window? But that could only mean... If Eliza had been fearful before, it was nothing to the rush of panic this realization loosed on her as she understood that she had been caught making mischief in her nightgown like a naughty child by the Duke of Caerdon. She drew in a shuddering breath and immediately dropped a very deep curtsey. "E-Elizabeth Cross, Your Grace," she murmured. "Cel—"

But before she could even try to form an explanation in response to his second question, she heard a sound that made her break off and freeze. It was the creak of a board in the hallway, and it was followed by the slow, heavy tread of Nanny. Eliza noticed that the duke had the exact same reaction she did—she supposed he knew the creaky board far better than she.

He did not question her further, nor did he hesitate. "Be silent," he whispered, and then he went out into the hallway, closing the door behind him. Eliza, listening, heard his firm, quick tread retreating, and then voices for a moment, his and Nanny's together. Oh, what were they saying? She crept to the door and pressed her ear to it, trying to hear, but it was too thick. She could not make out the words, only the tone. Still, she could make out no angry tones from either, and though Nanny's voice did raise in surprise, she sounded pleased. Could it be he was covering for them somehow?

When the voices stopped talking and the duke's steps began to return, Eliza quickly hurried away from the door. She scampered to the big four poster bed and sat up on it, arranging herself to hide the bare feet she was horrified to realize she had been showing him without realizing.

He came in, took off his heavy traveling coat, and sat down in the armchair near the bed. Before he spoke again, he took a cigar out of his breast pocket, trimmed it to his satisfaction, and lit it at the candle, which he left unshuttered. He had the leisurely air of a man entirely at his ease. Then he smiled, a little roguishly. "With your kind permission, Miss Cross," he said charmingly, gesturing to the cigar. "It is Miss Cross, not Lady Elizabeth?"

"No, Your Grace, it is Miss Cross. I mean, it is really only Elizabeth," Eliza fumbled. "And just Eliza, most of the time."

"Less and less," he teased. "If I let you talk any longer, you won't have a name at all. I'm Alan."

"Yes, Your Grace," she replied, still a little too overwhelmed by his rank and the strangeness of it all to respond to either his joking or the implicit permission he offered.

"Very well, then. Nanny heard you cry out—I told her I'd come in late and wanted to surprise Celia, and you'd been frightened. So, it is all right. Or rather, I hope it is," he added, a note of steel entering his voice at that. "Where is Celia, and why were you signaling to her? I suppose, that was you?"

"Ohh..." Eliza gave a long sigh of comprehension then, as what had happened clicked in her head. When Celia had taught her the system of signals, at school, she had said her brother taught it to her. Her brother, the duke. "Yes, Your Grace. Please, it is nothing bad, I promise. Celia hasn't a lover, I will swear on anything you like. Only she lost her brooch, her special brooch, at our picnic today, and she was so frightened that she insisted on going out to find it tonight. And I heard Nanny in the hall and knew she was awake, so I was signaling to make her hurry."

Alan gave a long sigh, and the set of his broad shoulders relaxed just slightly. "I suppose I should be relieved," he mused. "But if she had gone to meet a lover, at least she'd have a swain to protect her, if she was attacked by a wild dog!"

"I went downstairs and stole a mace from the hall for her, Your Grace. To be safe."

He lifted an eyebrow. "What, the one under the escutcheon in the great hall?" When she nodded, he let out a shout of laughter. "Well, Celia is nobly armed indeed. That mace saw service at Agincourt, my dear."

"Oh...oh, I suppose it is quite precious," Eliza said, drooping.

"Rather," Alan agreed, but without any cessation of his amusement, and he laughed until he had to wipe his eyes. "Oh, Celia. Pity the wild dog. You're quite the helpful accomplice, Miss Cross."

"I'm not—" Eliza began indignantly, but as soon as she began speaking, she knew that was exactly what she was. "Better a helpful accomplice than a useless one?" she offered instead, ruefully.

"Indeed. Celia, at least, chose wisely when she was recruiting for her criminal enterprises."

Something in his cynical tone made Eliza flush and pull her dressing gown tighter at her throat, suddenly very conscious of the horrible impropriety they were committing. Still, an unrepentant part of her thought it would certainly be a story to thrill her grandchildren with someday, the story of the night she had entertained a duke in her nightgown!

Her gesture didn't escape his attention, and he said, "You are suddenly very shy for a young lady who suggested I address her by her Christian name upon our first meeting."

"I…oh!" Eliza startled as she understood his meaning. "Only no one calls me Miss Cross, Your Grace. Only servants."

Alan tapped his cigar on the windowsill then leaned forward. "What do you mean? I suppose you have an elder sister also visiting?"

Eliza shook her head. "No, Your Grace. I have no sisters." She could feel heat radiating from her face at the perplexity and his inability to understand. Of course, he didn't understand. She was in his sister's bedroom and spoke like a young lady—how could he understand that she wasn't, not really? Biting her lip hard, she forced herself to continue. "C-Celia and I met at school, Your Grace. After my aunt died, I was taken in by kind friends, who sent me to school so I might gain an education that would allow me to support myself. When Celia asked if I might stay the holidays with her, your mother said no, of course, but Celia coaxed so, and finally, the duchess interviewed my guardian and the headmistress and saw me. She said I might come as a kind of companion, to help Celia keep up her studies over the holidays. So of course, I am not Miss Cross, you see, just Eliza, and that is what I am called," she concluded, finally lifting the gaze that had been fixed on her hands through her rapid, humiliating monologue.

What she saw made her heart sink further. The duke's face was displeased, hard and angry as it hadn't been since she first saw it among the ash leaves in the moonlight. "My mother errs gravely," he said sharply. "And I shall tell her so in the morning."

His words struck Eliza to the heart and filled her with terror as nothing else that night had done, not even the prospect of a strange man assailing her from the ash tree. She leapt from the bed and knelt at his feet quite unselfconsciously. "Oh, no, please, Your Grace, no," she begged, catching up his hand and holding it in hers, her eyes fixed on his face, which now registered astonishment. "I know you must have a very bad opinion of me, only please don't, they will all be so disappointed, and Mrs. Curton sold three spoons for m-my new dress." The last was merely a long sob as she lowered her face to his hand so that she might press her forehead to it in supplication and bathe it with her tears. "I will never do wrong anym-more, p-please," she whispered in a perfect desolation.

"Eliza." Alan's voice was very gentle and low now, and he turned his hand over, lifting her chin to force her to look up at him. "I did not mean that."

"What?" It came out in a soft, breathless whisper as she looked up at him, wide eyed. She looked very young in her fear and confusion, but also very beautiful with her curls falling all about her face, tears trembling on her long lashes, and her lips gently parted. "You said—"

"I said my mother erred, and she has, gravely. Certainly, it was proper to ensure you were a fit companion for Celia. But a companion to a young lady, paid or not, is herself always a lady and must be treated as such. Otherwise, she is likely to find herself in compromising situations." The corner of his mouth lifted fractionally. "Like so."

"Oh," Eliza gasped. "Oh." She looked up at him, still not rising or withdrawing from his touch, and he did not release her, but held her there, watching hope rise in the forlorn face.

"Who is Mrs. Curton?" he asked softly.

"M-my guardian's wife." And Eliza, feeling shy then, sat back on her heels. "She has been as good as a mother to me since my aunt died," she said loyally.

Alan let his hand drop and resumed smoking his cigar, though he was careful to keep the smoke away from her. He looked a little unsettled himself by their very intimate exchange, and he continued questioning her. "And your guardian? I suppose he is a Mr. Curton, but what sort of man is he?"

"He is a vicar, Your Grace. At St. Mary-le-Bow in London. When I…he…" She hesitated, looking up at him a little doubtfully. She did not often disclose her history to strangers, and yet there was something about the duke that invited confidence—or perhaps it was merely the oddness of their meeting that had breached the formality that ought to have lain between them. She took a deep breath. "My father was a purser in Her Majesty's Navy. He was killed in the Sea of Azov shortly after I was born—he never even saw me. My mother died of typhoid when I was seven, and I lived with my aunt, who ran a boarding house. When she died some years ago, Mr. Curton took me in out of pity and made provision for my education so I might be independent one day." Her voice was very small and tight as she told the sad tale, and her face was quite expressionless.

And indeed, the tale did not seem to belong to her anymore. She had lived all the sorrows—the child sobbing on her mother's stiff body, the girl growing up half wild in Cheapside, fending off her aunt's boarders and creeping off to the church for a place of peace, the pitied ward so quiet, so desperate to show her merit, her obedience. She could tell the tale, but it did not seem really hers. Though, at school, she was known as a charity pupil—for even the collection Mr. Curton had taken from his parish had only half paid her tuition—her quick mind, fierce loyalty, and bright spirit had finally blossomed into the young woman she was always meant to be, and Celia was not the only one who had made a favorite of the girl so much more blessed by nature than by fortune.

Alan did not answer immediately but sat considering the story, and after a long moment, he smiled at her. "I'm very glad," he said, and there was even more intimacy in his smile and simple words than there had been in Eliza's frantic pleading.

For a moment, she smiled back at him, feeling as though he were not a duke and she a penniless visitor, but merely two people, met by chance, drawn by liking. But the strange, charged moment was broken by the sound of the ash tree scraping energetically against the side of the house, and Eliza jumped to her feet, startled.

But Alan rose more slowly, and he gave her another little smile. "Don't look so frightened. You're not likely to find two strangers coming in your window tonight." And he leaned out and yanked his little sister into the room with one swift, sure movement. "Well, young lady, what have you got—"

But the stern lecture he was trying to impart was entirely ruined by Celia's rapturous little scream as she flung herself at her tall brother and tried to climb him like a little blonde monkey. "Alan!"

"Hush, you goose," he scolded, but there was a fond chuckle he couldn't quite hide in his voice. "Haven't you troubled enough people tonight, without waking up the whole house?"

"Oh, but you are home, and a full fortnight before we looked for you! Alan, oh, Alan, you must take us out to the island now you are home, please? I want Eliza to see it, and Jarvits keeps saying he will take us out when the weather is fine, but it is never fine enough for him, the c—"

Alan, at last, achieved an interruption in Celia's rapid-fire monologue by pinching her nose so that she had to breathe in through her mouth, and he laughed when she glared at him. "Yes, and I am teaching Eliza the trick, too. Serve you right, sharing the signals, when I do recall we had a blood oath on the matter." Then, shaking his head, he firmly set his sister down on her feet, releasing her nose in the process. "Now, then. Given the circumstances, I think we've something better to discuss than the favors you'd like to beg from me, unless you'd like one spanking now, and the other after you've confessed, hmm?" He lifted his eyebrow.

Celia tossed her pretty blonde head, but when Alan gave her a stern look, she at least tried to assume a penitent air. "I wasn't really naughty, Alan, promise. It was only my brooch. Eliza told you?"

"I see. And I'm meant to be so pleased that you weren't sneaking out to make love to the pig boy—" Here, Celia gave a little scream of outrage, but Alan pushed on, ignoring her, "That I ignore the fact that you went entirely off the estate in the middle of the night? If you had met anyone at all, the very best that could have happened is that your reputation would be ruined."

"But I never let a soul see me," Celia pleaded. "That is why I waited so late."

"It is late for gentlefolks, which means it is precisely the time when servants have, at last, an hour to themselves. I suppose you would like to be ravished by the blacksmith on his way back from romancing our kitchen maid?" Alan was very serious and severe now, and he caught his sister's shoulders to give them a little shake. Eliza watched wide eyed as the duke scolded his wayward sister, feeling a strange thrill of empathetic fear, for she could not in the least imagine being as calm as Celia was under such opprobrium. When he caught Celia's shoulders, Eliza could not help shuddering a tiny bit, remembering clearly what his strong hands had felt like when he had caught her in just that way, thinking she was Celia. Watching Celia being dressed down by her brother was frightening, but also strangely exciting.

"I didn't think of that," Celia muttered finally, defeated by his good sense.

"You never think of anything except getting your own way like a selfish brat. And you have made Eliza privy to your mischief too—if you had gotten caught, she must suffer for your crimes. I am ashamed to see you so selfish to risk a friend in pursuit of your own comfort."

"I didn't—I wouldn't have—" Celia stammered, now really remorseful and looking at Eliza unhappily.

"You didn't think of that, either," Alan said unsympathetically. "And as foolish as you are to be so blind to your own safety, it's disgusting to see you so careless of your friend's position." He let that sink in for a long moment, glaring down at Celia, who seemed to have shrunk in her penitence and was now looking as sorry as could be wished. "But, Eliza, whom you have so little regarded, proves your salvation after all. I can hardly tell Mamma on you without getting her into trouble, as well."

"Oh!" Celia lifted her downcast gaze and began to express her thanks.

But Alan cut her off, lifting her finger. "Don't thank me. You know perfectly well I'm going to make sure you've learned your lesson about sneaking out at night. It's either that or cut down the ash, and I've no mind to make the tree suffer for your disobedience! I imagine it will gladly provide a switch for the lesson, though. I shall find a time to deal with you, tomorrow, is that understood?"

"Yes, Alan," Celia said, trying to assume a demeanor of pious obedience with a solemn countenance and folded hands. It was quite ruined, though, by the fact that her hands were folded over the wooden handle of the large antique mace that she was still carrying.

Alan sighed and took the weapon from her. "I'm glad Sir Henri's legacy at least survived the evening intact. Go to bed then, brat. " Though his words were sharp, he tweaked Celia's ear affectionately. Then he turned to Eliza and bowed. "Miss Cross, it was a pleasure making your acquaintance."

Wide-eyed, Eliza dropped a graceful curtsey, but did not speak. She felt strangely harrowed by the great range of emotions she had experienced that evening, terror, relief, and now, a powerful sense of fascination. The duke was so very handsome and so kind, and he had even scolded Celia about her! Said he wouldn't tell their mother because of her! At that, Eliza pulled her fancies up short. Because he pitied her, of course, nothing more. Because he didn't want to see a young lady put in what he'd called  a compromising position.

Alan withdrew, and Celia gave a long sigh. "Do help me with my buttons, please, Eliza?"

Eliza drew herself out of her reverie and began to unbutton Celia's dress down the back. "Was the brooch in the bush, like we thought? I hope you did get it, after all that."

"Oh, yes—and it was marvelous out tonight, you should have come along. I saw an owl swoop down and eat a rat, just fancy!"

Eliza made a face. "All things considered, I'm pretty glad I didn't come along," she pointed out gently. Although, as soon as she said it, she wondered if it was true. If he had caught both of them, would both, then, be disciplined? She shivered at the idea.

But Celia misunderstood. "Poor thing. I am a beast keeping you up so late. Let's go to bed and you may warm your feet on me all night, my dear. Your very own hot water bottle."

"I wonder what your mother would say to that," Eliza said wryly.

"She'd only be surprised I was fit for anything so useful." And so, the two girls snuggled down together in the big bed, as gently twined as two sweet peas on the same stem.

Miss Serenia on 07/06/2017 05:06pm
Charming and sexy story of a lower class lady and upper class man falling in love. The love between them is rather superficial and full of endearing terms and their desire to be together yet the relationship isn't really developed. I enjoyed the story and the scenes of particular dominance.
Pettigg on 07/01/2017 07:16am
Eliza is a charity student at a school for Ladies of the aristocracy, and she is allowed to go home for the Holidays with Lady Celia. The Dowager Duchess allowes it more to keep Celia busy than anything and treats her like a servant. Celia and Eliza though find ways to get into trouble and of course they get caught by Celia's brother the Duke. Alan the Duke of Caerdon gets blindsided the moment he climes thru his sister's window and finds not his sister but a beautiful young girl. Eliza keeps him on his toes, doing nothing he expects and of course the Dowager Duchess throws roadblocks in their way as well. Alan and Eliza take you on a sweet and surprising ride with a few twists and an illness thrown in. A sweet HEA.
Maggie on 06/25/2017 02:40pm
I really enjoyed this sweet, romantic story. A handsome Duke falls in love with his little sister's orphaned companion when she comes to stay with them for the summer. Alan is the perfect combination of kindness and strength - stern without being uncaring and romantic and vulnerable without being weak. The plot was entertaining and the characters were well developed. Through most of the book Eliza's motivations are clear and I could completely understand her desires and her point of view, but Eliza's dismissal of the Duke when he first tells her he wants to marry her bothered me. It didn't make sense to me, especially when she later accused him of not asking her to marry him. But it was only a slight distraction that probably won't bother most readers. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet love story with a stern, but sensitive hero.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.
Stats23 on 06/25/2017 01:18pm
What a sweet little love story. The Duke%u2019s younger sister brings home a classmate for the summer holiday and he promptly falls in love with her. That they initially start off with him spanking her, at her request, tells you everything you need to know about how their relationship is likely to develop. The barriers to their ultimate happiness revolve around her non-aristocratic birth and his mother, and society in general, view such a relationship. The characters are well developed, well defined and are totally endearing. The spankings are firm, but loving, and the sex is both innocent and sensational. All in all, a very satisfying read.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
Hope W on 06/25/2017 01:02pm
This wonderful short story is a love that is forbidden in society, but love knows no bounds. Alan is a Duke who helps with the government. Eliza is an orphan and commoner. She understands the class difference and is afraid of being hurt. While home visiting with Celia, Alan's sister, Eliza meets Alan and they just can't fight their feelings. Celia is mischievous, fun loving, a great friend, loving sister and yet she is nave to the rules of society and sees nothing wrong with her brother and best friend exploring their feelings. As these characters interact and explore, this book will captivate the reader with romantic love, deep friendship, illness, spankings, lust, lies, and secrets. Can these characters overcome class difference to find happiness? Come read and find out in this wonderful story that I recommend for anyone who likes an easy, fun, and romantic read. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.
CC Barr on 06/20/2017 03:12pm
The story grabs you and pulls you in from the start! I really enjoyed this short read. The characters, their emotions and punishments were well detailed. Recommend.
BlueDiamond on 06/16/2017 09:37pm
This is one of the most compelling love stories I think I have ever read. It%u2019s wonderfully romantic and erotically hot with story telling that kept me reading well into the night. A definite must read.
Margaret Corcoran on 06/16/2017 12:56pm
This is a different style of Victorian love story. There is spankings and lots of love. The characters are well written and described. The story is very easy to read and interesting. It tells the story of a poor orphan and her learning to trust her Duke. I received an ARC copy of this book and I highly recommend it.
Redrabbitt on 06/15/2017 10:30pm
A sweet story of forbidden love, one is an orphan commoner, the other a young Duke. Their paths will cross during a summer break when Lady Celia brings home her friend from their school, Eliza Cross.

Eliza Cross lost her father when she was an infant; then her mother died of Typhoid when she was a young girl. Raised for a time by an aunt until her death, orphaned Eliza was taken in by the vicar and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Curton who have arranged a special slot at a private school to help her achieve an education, and hopes for supporting herself in the future.

Alan, the Duke of Caerdon, works for the Crown of England as a diplomat between England and France. He went to school for two years in France and cans speak French. Returning to his home, Caerdon Abbey, he will meet Eliza who has accompanied his sister home for the summer.

The plot will have Alan needing to discipline Celia the day after he returns home for one of her impetuous and foolish adventures. Eliza feels guilty because she was also involved and also ask to be corrected for her part. The straightforward behavior of Eliza is the beginning of a respectful relationship with Alan. Eliza will try to fight her feelings, and cannot believe that Alan would feel anything for a poor orphan.

The story is a Cinderella type fairy tale of a poor girl and a handsome and titled gentleman. They try to deny their feelings, but eventually, love will overrule and win. A secret wedding and no one in his family will be the wiser, but that will come at a high price later on.

The story has mystery, suspense, secrets, romance, angst, spankings, and does end on a happily ever after ending. The story is not an ageplay story or school house tale. It is a domestic discipline story that has three main characters, Eliza Cross, her school friend, Celia, and Celia%u2019s brother, Alan.
Tiffany on 06/15/2017 06:48pm
Sweet but not memorable

This is a lovely and fluffy romance. Great for that happy feeling you get when you read a HEA. But I feel I must give it 3 stars because while the plot is good and pretty interesting with secret wedding spin, it felt a bit overly dramatic. The characters were nicely developed and nothing about them stood out as odd or unusual but by that same token nothing stood out about the characters. I understood their motives and could connect with them but on a more superficial level. Like someone you meet on a plane or train or something and can happily chat with for several hours but never really talk to again. But having said, I can and do recommend this book to anyone who looking for nice sweet HEA kind of book that will only take a few hours to read.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.
Dyane on 06/15/2017 02:18pm
Eliza is waiting for her schoolfriend Celia to climb back in the window and is surprised when Celia's brother, the Duke of Caerdon, climbs in instead. He is charmed by Eliza but still unhappy with the girls for their dangerous escapade. Ultimately, a disciplinary session in the stables sets both girls to rights. This clandestine meeting also sets the stage for the relationship between Eliza and Alan - full of love, discipline and secrets. This book was excellent, with just the right amount of stern hero and naughty heroine. I certainly hope their are more books about this family to come. In fact, I would love to read a book about the next phase in their lives as Eliza learns to be a duchess, as well as a book about the Duke's mischievous sister, Celia. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

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