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K.J. Jackson

The Devil in the Duke, A Revelry’s Tempest Novel 6, (EBOOK)

The Devil in the Duke, A Revelry’s Tempest Novel 6, (EBOOK)

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 520+ five star reviews 

Steamy Historical Regency Romance

A man accustomed to hiding secrets. A woman with a lost past. Love that cannot be denied.

A man accustomed to hiding secrets.
His dark silver eyes are haunted, and for good reason. Logan Lipinstein lost his wife years ago in the war and has been a living shell of a man ever since, attempting to atone for past sins. Until one fateful day, when she walks past him carrying a basket of bread.

A woman with a lost past.
Sienna Ponstance lives in the comfort of her grandmother's estate, having long ago put herself on the shelf as a spinster. She has her charcoals, the village that she loves, and peaceful days—even if something has always been missing from her life. Until the day her tranquility is shattered when a strange man accosts her as she is walking home from the village.

Love reunited.
His wife—dead for ten years—walks along the path in front of Logan. Scarcely believing his eyes, he approaches her and is quickly rewarded with a rebuff that includes the point of a knife. Sienna has no memory of him, thinking him only a ruffian. Now he just has to convince her that he actually is her husband. And that their boundless love can conquer anything—including a past that threatens them at every turn.

Note: The novels in the Revelry's Tempest series by K.J. Jackson are each stand-alone stories and can be read individually in any order. These historical romances are set in the Regency and Victorian eras, and do not shy away from scenes with steamy heat, occasional naughty language, and moments that might possibly make you squirm.

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READ A SAMPLE

{ Prologue }

Arapiles, Spain
August 1812

Ignoring the blood dripping from his hand and the uncontrollable tremble that held his fingers hostage, Logan sank to his knees and reached down.

Down into the embers.

Down into the ashes.

Bone.

Shreds of a dress. Scorched hair, the smell burning his nostrils.

A tiny glimmer.

The ring.

Clutched in the bent crook of her finger bones.

Clutched until the very end.

His wife’s ring.

The ribbon she’d always wrapped around the band to make it fit snug on her delicate finger had burned away, leaving nothing but a gaping, empty hole within the scorched gold. He’d offered to have a goldsmith resize it a hundred times, but she’d always refused. She’d wanted it exactly as he had given it to her.

His hand shaking, he plucked the ring from her charred grasp, ashes clinging to his skin.

It was what he deserved.

Choosing his soulmate over his men.

He knew this would happen. Knew she would die. Leave him alone on this earth. He’d known it from the start. Known it since she was three and he was five.

One did not grow old in the world they existed in.

For death followed him.

It always had.

That he’d gotten away with loving her for as long as he did—a mere trick he had played on fate.

Fate had finally caught up to him.

Fate knew he wasn’t worthy of her love.

Just the same as he did.

His head jerked up at the rifle shots thundering into the air outside the cottage. Steel clanging against steel. Yelling. Shrieks.

Boney’s forces were rampaging, dealing death.

He pushed himself to his feet and grabbed his sword from the smoking embers.

Let them. He was ready.


{ Chapter 1 }
  
Yorkshire, England
June 1823

Logan gasped a breath, the air freezing in his lungs as his body seized upon itself, stilling his motion. Stopping his feet.

He’d followed the woman from the village. Followed her as she walked past the rows of cottages lining the dirt path that ran at a cross direction to the main road though the village of Sandfell.

That he had even seen her, even been in this part of Yorkshire had been happenstance. Torrential rains had turned the roads along his usual eastern route into a hoof-sucking, muddy mess so he’d travelled inward.

He had just stepped outside of the coaching inn where he’d spent the night, eager to get to his horse and be on his way when he spied her. For as much as he’d needed a break from London and the Revelry’s Tempest—a break from the three proprietresses of the gaming house flitting about in wedded bliss and the bi-weekly drama that ensued from the gaming nights—visiting his estate in Northumberland hadn’t given him the respite he’d hoped for.

Once a year, obligation forced him to make the journey north to meet with Hunter, his steward of the lands and his Northumberland interests. Whereas he usually enjoyed his time in the north, in the clean air that didn’t fill his lungs with muck day after day, this particular trip had found him itching to escape the area.

Itching to escape the happiness that his friend was flush with.

Hunter’s three young children—two boys and one girl—were all healthy, curious, and enamored with their “Uncle” Logan. Logan hadn’t sat without a child on his lap for a week. Hunter’s wife, a surgeon and bone setter by luck of her father passing down his skills, had served Logan’s lands as their healer, midwife, and general scourge upon any traveling apothecary that dared to set foot in her domain. Beyond her many assets, the woman still looked at Hunter as though he was the only man in the world.

Bliss, all around. Too much of it.

Envy was not an emotion Logan was familiar with.

But staying with Hunter, staying with his family—watching the smiles on their faces and the simple pleasure they took in being together, laughing with one another—had sparked a jealousy that had crept out of nowhere and settled upon his shoulders.

He didn’t begrudge Hunter any of the happiness he’d found in life. It was an odd thing, to be proud of his friend for finding happiness, yet deeply envious of him at the same time.

Logan had suffered through it for days. Then he’d finally cut his trip short, the prickly need to escape the realm of their happiness forcing him to leave without even manifesting a half-witted excuse to leave early.

His abrupt absence at the estate was sure to worry his friend and Logan had almost turned back to explain his hastily written note that merely said he was needed back in London.

Yet he couldn’t turn back. Explaining was weakness. Envy was weakness.

And he was not weak.

But he was slightly insane.

Logan’s rooted stance next to a low, dry-stone border fence allowed him to stare—truly stare—at the back of the woman he had followed. A fair distance in front of him, she carried a basket with two loaves of bread sticking tall from the top, bumping into the back of her light blue muslin dress with every other step.

Just exiting the coaching inn, he’d seen her across the street as she stepped out from the baker’s cottage. She’d been a distance away, but Logan was close enough to see her delicate profile and the swing of her long reddish-blond hair under her crisp blue poke bonnet as she spun away from him. The bonnet, trimmed with a simple white ribbon, had obscured the top half of her face, her eyes, but the tip of the nose, the chin and the lips were hers.

His wife’s.

So he followed her.

He’d done this before.

Seen a woman that looked like Sienna and trailed her. Drawn to memories he could not escape. The pull of her still so strong after more than ten years that he would stalk a stranger just for a few precious moments of fantasy—moments of hope.

The heels of his boots ground into the dirt of the path and he shook his head to himself. This was where he needed to turn around. Get back to his horse. Be on his way.

He had just walked a good mile from the village in an inane pursuit of this woman.

His gaze centered on the line of the woman’s proud shoulders, mesmerized by her graceful gait. A forest to her right, open field to her left, she moved up a small incline and then disappeared over the crest of a low hill.

The sudden absence of her made him jerk into motion, his feet flying forward even as his mind reminded him it was beyond madness to follow a strange woman into the countryside. It was, in fact, bordering on menacing.

Just a few more moments.

He moved to the crest of the hill, fully intending one last glance at her before turning back to the village. Instead, what he saw stopped him in his tracks.

At the base of the hill the woman had moved off the path to an apple tree draping over the dry-stone wall and was cutting free a late-blooming cluster of blossoms from the end of a long branch with a small knife. She slipped the bonnet back from her head to let it dangle from the ribbon about her neck and then pulled her hair back on the side to tuck the stem of the white blossoms behind her ear.

A motion he’d seen a hundred times before. How she twisted her hair to get it out of the way. How she tilted her head as she tucked the twig to her ear. How she closed her eyes, her chest rising in a deep inhale.

The soft smile on her face as the scent filled her.

A smile he knew.

A smile that had once been the center of his world.

His head shaking, swiveling, he looked around. It was a trap. A mirage. An elaborate ruse upon him. He was seeing things.

Seeing things he wanted to see. Needed to see.

Plucking a single star-shaped blossom from the stem, her fingers lifted it to lightly drag it along the bridge of her nose. Her face tilted upward, her eyes closed as she held the petals to the tip of her nose with just her forefinger.

Hell.

He’d only seen one person in the world ever do that.

His wife.

His legs were running, blasting him down the hill in a frenzied blur before he could think.

She didn’t see him coming, didn’t open her eyes until the last second, her mouth flying open with a squeak.

He grabbed her arm, twisting her fully to him, and the blossom fell from her nose, drifting downward.

Wide blue eyes—shock filling them.

Sienna.

His wife.

His dead wife. Dead for ten years.

There was no doubt.

He grabbed her other arm, staring down at her, searching—searching for some small defect, some small dissimilarity that would prove she wasn’t Sienna.

Her mouth agape, the woman looked up at him.

No recognition in her blue eyes—not the slightest glint.

She stared at him, her wide eyes rapidly blinking as she gently tried to tug her arms away from his grasp. “Do I know you, sir?”

His knees weakened, almost sending him to the ground.

Her voice was unmistakable.

“Sienna.” Her name came out awkward, rushed, his tongue not able to believe the possibility that it was her. He hadn’t uttered her name once since she had died.

Her mouth snapped shut, her lips stretching to a thin line as her eyebrows drew together. “Sir—”

“Sienna.” He shook her.

Her eyes widened, sudden fear taking root in the dark azure streaks in her irises. She attempted to jerk free from his grasp.

“Sienna, it’s me.”

“Sir, no, no. You are mistaken on who I am.”

“Sienna, just stop and listen to me. You know me.” He ignored her wrenching and shook her again.

“Please, sir—”

“Sienna.” He paused, then shook her again, his fingers digging into the flesh on her upper arms.

“Please, sir, you’re scaring me.” She twisted viciously, trying to escape.

His clamp tightened on her arms, shaking her. He would damn well shake her until she recognized him. He had to.

Pain.

Searing pain attacking his middle from nowhere.

He looked down. The tip of a blade was in his flesh, digging into his gut before he realized Sienna still held the knife. She lunged forward at him with her feet, putting all her weight and both hands behind the blade piercing his belly.

His fingers dropped away from her arms, going to her wrists to rip her hands and the blade free from impaling his belly. Blade removed, his hands clasped over the wound in his gut.

Horror crossed her face and she stumbled backward, the basket still hanging from her arm swinging wildly. The bread tumbled from the basket as the handle slipped off her arm, thudding to the ground.

He lifted his right hand from his belly, stretching it out to her. “Please, Sienna—no—stop, Sienna.” He staggered three steps toward her, his left hand holding against his bleeding gut.

Her face twisted in terror and a small yelp squeaked from her mouth as she spun and ran. Ran so fast, her blue skirts flew out behind her. She veered to the right, scrambling over the dry-stone wall and then raced into the woods that offered obstacles, if not protection from him.

“Sienna.” His yell trailed, his desperate voice giving out to the pain in his gut tearing him in two.

She jumped to the left, disappearing behind a clump of oaks.

The world went still, silent. Logan staggered to his right, falling along the low stone fence for support, his fingers digging into the rough rock.

He stared at the woods, willing her to reappear. To run to him. To throw her arms around him.

He stared for far too long, his belly oozing blood.

But he couldn’t move, couldn’t leave. Could only stare at the oak she’d disappeared behind.

Hell.

His wife didn’t recognize him.

And she had just stuck a dagger into him.

If he wasn’t convinced before it was her, the blade in his gut told him all he needed to know.

He had made sure of it long ago—Sienna knew well how to protect herself.

His wife was alive.

~~~

She made it to her room, clicking the door closed behind her as quietly as she could manage, then collapsed back against it.

Her breath sped and she curled over, holding her stomach, her chest, trying to calm her thundering lungs, her gasps for air.

Gasp after gasp. No air finding its way past her tight throat, her tongue, her mouth that no longer felt like part of her body.

Her mind wild, terrified notions flew in all directions and she attempted to find one sane thought to grasp onto.

The man hadn’t followed her. That was it. She had to hold onto that.

He hadn’t followed her.

She’d run with her head craned back over her shoulder, searching the trail, searching the woods, searching the front walk of her grandmother’s estate. Even glancing over her shoulder as she tore through the house, rushing up the stairs.

Safe. She was safe.

She was safe in her home. Safe in Roselawn.

Except he knew her name. She didn’t know the man, so how in the heavens above did he know her name?

She pulled up slightly, her chin dropping to her chest and she caught sight of the knife still gripped in her hand. Blood streaked across the silver of the blade.

No. Please, no.

An image exploded in her mind, consuming her whole, the sensation of being thrown through the air and slamming into a wall. The pain in her mind manifested throughout her body. Pain everywhere.

Hitting the wall. Blackness.

~~~

Sienna jerked, her head hitting the door behind her.

She blinked the grogginess from her eyes, her room coming into focus.

She had fainted.

But she never fainted. She wasn’t delicate. She didn’t swoon. Even though her grandmother liked to tell her she was fragile, she didn’t faint.

Yet there she was, shifting her hand onto her head on the floor, trying to right her mind to the here and now.

She swallowed hard and turned her face to the side only to be greeted by the blade.

Red streaks still smeared the steel.

The blade had done this to her. Why?

She had looked at it and then felt overwhelming pain. Nothing but pain. She tried to draw the memory to the front of her mind again. But the dark recesses of her brain sank away, shriveling away from her consciousness, scurrying to hide that memory away in the depths.

She stared at the blade, focusing on the streaks of crimson, now dried on the steel.

She had stuck a man.

Sank a blade into his belly.

Yes, the man had accosted her out of nowhere. Yes, a desperation like she had never seen had been in his dark silver eyes. It was what had terrified her.

But to gut him? To thrust a blade into his belly?

Her stomach churned.

Where had that come from? She didn’t know how to stab a man. How to hurt another person.

She’d never held a blade to anything but an apple, but she knew—knew how to press it into his skin. How to thrust. She’d never hurt anything in her life. But she knew how to stab that man.

Her eyes shut against the thought, and the man’s stunned face when he realized what she’d done filled her mind.

His face.

She jerked upright from the floor, scrambling to her feet. Stumbling to her secretary along the wall lined with windows, she flipped open the top rosewood cabinet. Pushing aside her charcoals, she pulled free a stack of vellum that she had set aside deep on the high shelf. The pile of sketches she kept for no reason other than she was unable to toss them into the fire.

Her fingers shaking, she flipped through the stack of vellum, sending sheets of paper flying in all directions, the edges fluttering to the ground until countless pages surrounded her.

She sank to her knees in the middle of the mess, her gaze flickering from one sketch to another. And another. And another.

Charcoal and pencil on the vellum sheets. Each from a different angle. Each capturing something new her imagination had conjured up.

She gasped, sinking down onto her heels. Her hand stretched out, her fingers trembling as she touched the sheet directly in front of her.

All the sketches were of the same man.

The man on the road.

He was the man her fingers sketched again and again. Years of sketching him.

And he had just appeared out of nowhere, grabbing her. This very same man.

She shook her head. She’d always believed he was an imaginary figment—for she knew she had never met him. At least as far as her memory went back. She had lived here at Roselawn her entire life. Her grandmother had assured her of that fact long ago after she had fallen from her horse and knocked all the memories from her head. It had been nine, maybe ten years, since the riding accident.

But the man said he knew her. Preposterous. After her accident, her grandmother had kept her safe, for her head was far too delicate to put out into the world with balls and parties and dinners where she would have met a man like him. And then she had reached the age of spinsterhood, and she hadn’t even considered attending balls and parties to meet new people in years.

But that didn’t mean she didn’t dream.

Sienna picked up a sketch in front of her knees, her fingers still trembling as she studied it. It was of his eyes, just the top of his face. His dark grey eyes—not so dark they frightened, but they held just enough hidden depths to haunt her. To make her want to sketch those eyes too many times to count during the years.

She closed her eyes, picturing him in front of her. Seeing his dark silver eyes again. Eyes that lifted slightly at the edges, his dark lashes pinpointing his gaze. Eyes that were unmistakable.

She could almost feel his fingers still digging into her arms—how he had latched onto her. There had been something so undeniably primal in how he grabbed her. Like he owned her. Like he could do anything he wanted to her, because she belonged to him.

He was an utter stranger.

She had to remember that.

Her eyes drifted down to the sheets of paper scattered about her legs.

And she had to forget that she had just seen the one man she had fixated on her whole life in real, living, breathing person.


 

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