“Have you nothing else to compensate me?”
“I am a dressmaker, Your Grace, I make and sell dresses. That is the full extent of my commerce.”
But when this monkish duke invades her dress shop, her dreams, and finally her heart, will Olivia be able to deny Rhys Merrick might just be the perfect fit?
Rhys Merrick, Duke of Roydan, is determined to be the antithesis of his depraved father, repressing his desires so severely he is dubbed “the Monk” by Society. But when Olivia Weston turns up demanding payment for gowns ordered by his former mistress, Rhys is totally flummoxed and inexplicably smitten. He pays her just to remove her from his house, and mind. But logic be damned; he must have this fiercely independent woman.
Olivia’s greatest fear is becoming a kept woman. She has escaped the role of mistress once and vows never to be owned by any man. Rather than make money in the boudoir, she chooses to clothe the women who do. But when a fire nearly kills her friend and business partner, Olivia’s world goes up in smoke and she is forced to barter with the lofty duke.
As their lives weave together, Olivia unravels the man underneath the Monk, while Rhys desires to expose the lady hiding behind the dressmaker. Will his raw passion fan a long-buried ember of hope within her? Can this mismatched pair be the perfect fit?
“Could you move, please?”
Was it her imagination, or was his voice higher than usual? Then what he actually said registered.
“Yes. Could you move across the room? I find to judge a garment, or anything properly, one must see it in motion.” Her face must have been reflecting the horror she felt, for he hastened on, “You would not expect me to buy a horse simply by looking at its lines would you, Mrs. Weston? I would wish to see it run as well. I’m sure you understand.”
Blast him and his bloody horses. She strode forward, happy to vent some of her anger in movement; however, she realized a split second too late there was nowhere to move. The receiving room was not large and was mostly taken up with the cutting table. The only area with any appreciable room was at the far end of the shop where the huge paneled mirrors stood. He was standing directly in the path that would be her best direction. Consequently, she found herself almost flush up against him.
She knew he was tall. Any fool could see the man was at least two or more inches over six feet, but from this vantage point—directly beneath him—he was so very tall. She could smell the starch of his shirt mixed with a faint whiff of smoke and possibly brandy? She slid her gaze over the shirt and waistcoat to his cravat—a conservatively tied Oriental—to the firm, slightly cleft chin, moving on to the lips, very swiftly past those, and finally resting on his eyes. Pure molten gold. Yes, exactly like those of the Burmese tiger she had seen at a menagerie in Paris. His bearing was just as predatory.
“It would appear, sir, in order for me to move, as you require, you will have to bestir yourself as well.”
She thought she saw one side of his mouth shift ever so slightly upward into what might have been the merest twitch of a smile. She could not be one hundred percent sure because, to do so, she would have to look at his lips. The duke shifted his weight and made a small bow. Her shoulder brushed the superfine of his midnight blue jacket as she hurriedly squeezed past him.
She strode almost to the mirrors before wheeling around and giving him what she hoped was an accusatory look.
“Well, Your Grace. I hope you are satisfied”
“Satisfied, Mrs. Weston?” He raised that infernal eyebrow. “Oh no, madam, I am very far from satisfied. However, I am hopeful I will be, in the not so distant future.” Again his gaze raked over her. “Yes, I do live in hope.”
Best Historical (finalist)~ National Readers Choice Awards
Best First Book (finalist)~ National Readers Choice Awards
Best Historical (finalist)~ The Heart of Excellence
Best Historical (finalist)~ The Aspen Gold
Best First Book (finalist)~ The Golden Leaf
Fool for Love Contest~ winner
Golden Apple Awards’~winner
Secret Craving Contest~ winner
Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest~ winner
Golden Rose Contest~ winner (also winning the best of the best)
Great Beginnings~ finalist
Emerald City Opener~ finalist
Lone Star Contest~ finalist
It is hard to believe that this is a debut novel because Mr. Russell weaves such a compelling and intensely emotional story with complex and flawed characters that I really cared about.
~ Rakes and Rascals *****
Just – Wow! I am in awe of this wonderful book. Everything worked for me – the characters, the plot, the conflicts, and a happy ever after that was sweet indeed. It’s hard to believe that this is a first book, it’s that good. This will be in my top ten books for this year. If you enjoy exciting, emotional stories with damaged heroes and heroines, this is the perfect one for you.
~ Long and Short Reviews *****
A wonderful story filled with passion, undeniable chemistry and love between an unlikely pair – a Duke and a dressmaker.
~A Tattered Copy *****
I fell in love with Olivia and Rhys instantly. This is one of my favorite love stories now. I can’t wait to reread this to experience it again. It was just that good. Highly recommended.
~ Offbeat Vagabond *****
Russell does a great job balancing moving forward the romantic story, and keeping us just a little on edge waiting to find out what the FULL story of the character’s pasts.
~ Reading to Distraction *****