A Duke in Winter
Ten of your favorite historical romance authors have come together for this wintery collection to set your pulse racing. Melt the snow a little with this collection of sexy tales of moody dukes and the women hot enough to warm them.
Like all anthologies, this one has a theme. Our theme required that all the stories be based on a Shakespeare play. The caveat? They all must have a happy ending.
It's been a long time since I've read Shakespeare. I needed to get reacquainted. I reread Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Taming of the Shrew. I was still 'researching' when I had to disclose which story I would using. Most of the better known ones (at least to me) were already scooped up. I did more research and decided to base my story on Love's Labour's Lost.
The short summary: After vowing to avoid women, the King and three of his friends have to host a princess and her three ladies. The four men fall in love and decide to court the women. In the end, the women must return to their kingdom for a year after which they will marry the king and his friends, providing they remain true to them.
Why Did I Chose Love’s Labour’s Lost
Love's Labour's Lost is a comedy about young love, with an unexpected ending. As the bard said, 'We lose ourselves to keep our oaths.' Was their oath realistic? Could they have held to their word? Shakespeare thinks not, not were true love is involved.
True love is a romance writer's elixir. While I was limited in word count, I tackled this story featuring only one couple.
The Duke’s Lost Love
Will they fight the obvious, that their
ideal person is in front of them, or
will they walk away from their heart’s desire?
Lady Nanette de Chappell, the Comtesse de Moyne and Lord Morgan Fitzhugh, the reluctant 5th Duke of Preswick grew up near each other in Sommer by the Sea. Nanette at her grandparent’s Dunamara Castle and Fitzhugh at Preswick Hall.
Fitzhugh is at Preswick Hall with his three closest friends. Each of them suffer from a form of feminine defeat. Fitzhugh has decided never to marry and pass the title to his younger brother. After a night of drinking and discussion, they all swear off the company of women for three years determined to study chivalrous love.
That snowy morning, Nanette and her three ladies arrive at Fitzhugh’s doorstep in broken carriage. After years apart, she is on her way to retrieve an item from the shuttered Castles for her ill grand mere. Avoiding a dinner party to meet yet another suitor she will find lacking, she seeks the solitude of Dunamara to determine if her ideal is realistic or a dream no man can fulfill.
Fitzhugh takes her to Dunamara. The weather changes and they are stranded at the castle by a snowstorm. Fighting through an avalanche and tunnel cave in, they must depend on each other to escape.
In the process of completing their quests, they both find something else. Will they fight the obvious, that their ideal person is in front of them, or will they walk away from their heart’s desire?
"It's because of you that I acted." Her voice was low and composed.
Her statement caught him off-guard. For a moment, he thought he had misunderstood until he peered at her. "Me?" He quickly moved from embarrassment to confusion. He didn't take his eyes off her.
"I've witnessed situations where people willfully rejected taking action. They looked on as if the situation was an entertainment. It's much the same amongst the ton. Along with too many insulting innuendoes and uncaring, hurtful, and yes, intentional acts of total disregard at the expense of someone.
"But not you. I took notice of you all those years ago. The example you set. You didn't walk away from others when they needed assistance. I made a pledge to myself I would never be, nor be associated with, that type of person.
"No. I am not brave. I am a thinking, feeling person who doesn't define acts of kindness as a weakness, but rather as a strength. I have learned your lesson well."
"Don't make me out to be something I am not. There are many more like me, better than me." He closed his saddlebag.
"So you may think. But if you looked, I mean more than a passing glance, you would see the truth. At least that has been my plight. I haven't met anyone who can meet my standard. "
He returned to her.
"And I will not accept anyone less." She added before he said anything.
They were both searching for something. He hoped with all his heart Nanette would find it. She’d grown to be a beauty one any man would be proud to have as a wife. He tilted his head as his gaze travelled over her face and searched her eyes.
His body heated as he caught a glimpse of her, the real Nanette. Aware of her intelligence and independent spirt, now he found her banter warm and enchanting. He admired her fire, her ice. Deep down, he wanted to find out more about her warmth.
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