The one woman he will never forget…
Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.
The one man she will never forgive…
After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.
A love that neither can deny…
The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…
Sera and Malcom’s story is powerfully put into words, there is so much beauty in Sarah MacLean’s writing! It’s the kind of writing that transports you to another time and place and makes you feel all the feelings! This author captured my attention with clever, witty dialogue and amazing characterization. She engaged my emotions with her poignant and moving tale, the overload of feelings had me all misty-eyed several times through the book! And I loved it!
Malcom Bevingstoke, the Duke of Haven, has lost everything that mattered to him and he is to blame for it. His wife, Seraphina, left him and more than two years later, while he was still searching for her, she has returned and required a divorce he refuses to grant her.
Both of them made mistakes, she trapped him into marriage and he married her to punish her. He ruined her hopes and her dreams of happiness. Their past story is told in flashbacks and some scenes are heartbreaking. Malcolm is a duke, but he wants to be loved for himself and not for his wealth or the prestige of his title. As it happens, Sera trapped him because she desperately wanted him. But he refused to believe her and pushed her away with cruelty and coldness. This character is not easy to like at first, he is totally flawed, conceited and jaded. And yet, he grew on me and Sarah MacLean managed to make me love him. He is consumed by his shame and his feelings of guilt, his regrets are genuine. Of course, his explanation is not an excuse, but he takes responsibility for his mistakes and wants to make up for them. He wants a marriage in truth, not a divorce. He is driven to do anything in his power to convince his wife that he has changed and to give him a second chance. Obviously, he has his work cut out for him.
Sera is a wonderful character, bold, defiant, determined and vibrant. She has drawn strength from her husband’s cruelty and disdain. She has moved to America, has built a new life and has found a new purpose. She is ready to claim her future and her freedom. Malcolm’s best laid plans to spend time with her and woo her are going awry and prove to be wholly inadequate. Sera get support from her sisters, and, not surprisingly, they loathe him. These secondary characters enhanced the plot significantly with their vital connections to their sister. The Talbot sisters, aka the Dangerous Daughters, stick together.
This book had some of the best groveling scenes I have ever read, it is full of breathtakingly painful moments of clarity. The connection between Malcolm and Sera was undeniable, the romantic and sexual tension between these two realistically flawed characters leaped off the pages. The epilogue of their story was absolute perfection! This book is the third one in the author’s Scandal & Scoundrel series, but it works perfectly well as a standalone and I can’t recommend it enough!
An advanced copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher, via Edelweiss.
DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, Parliament
She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.
Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.
August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.
Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.
He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.
January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.
His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.
April the seventeenth, 1833.
The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.
He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.
Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.
Where had she gone?
The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.
And they had.
March the first, 1833. The day they met.
So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.
If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?
That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.
And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.
Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?
Where had she gone?
The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.
Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.
New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.
Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com’s Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her “gracefully furious.” A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.