Bestselling author Amalie Howard is known for writing historical romance novels with a thoroughly modern sensibility and feminist feel, featuring heroines with plenty of intelligence and agency. The Duke in Question is the highly anticipated third installment in Howard’s popular Daring Dukes series of Regency-set novels, which also includes The Princess Stakes and Rules for Heiresses.
An enemies to lovers historical story that’s one part James Bond and one part Bridgerton, the story follows a feisty heroine and a savvy duke in a flirty game of cat and mouse where each must work to unravel the secrets of the other. Lady Bronwyn is a spy headed for America with a secret mission and a packet of dangerous letters. Valentine Medford is a duke and former spymaster who has been ordered out of retirement to track her down, but he’ll have to decide whether to follow his heart or his loyalty to the crown when he does.
Here’s the official description from the publisher.
Lady Bronwyn Chase is far from the paragon of society that her mother expects her to be. Which is why she’s on her brother’s passenger liner bound for America with a secret packet of letters that could get her into trouble. Serious trouble—the kind that a duke’s sister shouldn’t be in; the kind that puts spymaster Valentine Medford, the Duke of Thornbury, on her trail. But as the duke gets closer to Bronwyn and the secrets she’s keeping, he’ll have to decide between the mysterious woman who calls to him or his allegiance to the crown.
The Duke in Question won’t hit shelves until later this year, but we have an exclusive reveal of the (gorgeous!) cover below and an excerpt from the story itself to help tide you over!
The hairs on her nape rose as a new presence drifted over. “Who were you talking to?”
She glanced up at him, her gaze colliding with a burning amber stare and making a river of heat travel to every pulse point in her body. God, what he could do with those eyes alone was indecent! She cleared her suddenly dry throat. “No one.”
“There was a man dressed as Neptune in a fish mask on the other side of this pillar.”
She feigned confusion. “I did not see anyone.”
His lip curled, though anger flashed in his eyes. “But you did hear him, did you not? That seemed to be quite an intense, cozy conversation. Was he your contact?”
“If you’re so interested in him, whoever he was, why don’t you go harass him?” She glared at the duke, even as his full mouth flattened. “Why aren’t you in costume? Too uninventive and dreary to come up with an idea?”
“I’m not here for entertainment, Lady Bronwyn.”
“Mars, perhaps? With that scowl, you could be the Roman god of war. Ah, I’ve got it! Pluto, god of the underworld, but that would be too much on the nose, don’t you think? I do credit you with a little more imagination than that.” Her gaze traced him from the tip of his crown to his raven-black evening clothes and polished boots, ignoring how well the tailored jacket fit his broad shoulders and the snug lines of his trousers over strong legs. “Never mind. I know who you are. You’re Janus, the two-faced god of duality, one face to the past and the other to the future.”
A grim laugh broke from him. “Clever. And who are you supposed to be?”
When he returned the favor, that hot golden stare swept down the shimmering swaths of fabric that wound over her body, and Bronwyn felt it everywhere. Visions exploded in her head from that one heated look, of bodies tangled together on satin sheets, sweaty, slippery, and hot, coming together in passionate, carnal ways. God, how was it possible to desire a man so keenly? A man so utterly wrong for her in every way.
Not wrong in bed.
They’d never even seen a bed. She yearned to see him thus. Sprawling and naked, every gloriously hewn muscle on display for her ogling pleasure. Heavens, her imagination was like a runaway horse.
By some miracle, Bronwyn kept her face even, no small feat considering the flames of lust threatening to immolate her from the inside out. “Isn’t it obvious?” she said, tapping at her golden crown and waved a handheld peacock mask. “Juno, Goddess of Marriage. One cannot say my mother is without a peculiar sense of humor or urgency.”
A low huff of laughter rumbled through him, making her desperate to hear it again.
“That dress is…” His voice emerged like gravel and cut off, as if the passionate spell that had come over her had taken him in its grasp, too. He shifted ever so slightly, and she felt the graze of his fingers on her upper part of her spine laid bare by the gown—those five points of pressure like burning embers against her skin—and froze in place. The duke was much closer than was proper, and she still wanted to press backward into him. Each nerve in her body yearned for more of his touch. “You’re stunning, Bronwyn.”
Pleasure spun through her. “Thank you.”
“I heard an announcement might be in the wind tonight,” he said softly.
Her fogged brain fought to catch up. “Announcement?”
Bronwyn’s eyes fluttered closed. Gracious, her mother was dreadful. The Duke of Ashvale still had to give his permission to any marriage discussions, but given recent developments, he would find no fault with the very safe, very lackluster, and very enthusiastic Lord Herbert. The young gentleman was exactly as expected when she’d met him earlier—a pretty, polite, and polished boy. The perfect match for a perfect debutante. Who wasn’t her. She was ruined goods. Willingly and deliciously ruined by the duke at her back.
The one her body craved still.
She did not want a boy. She wanted a man. This man.
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.