Duke du Jour
Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor—the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.
Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo—only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.
Ari did not pull back as he had feared. Her small hands gripped his jacket lapels and tugged him to her.
My little spitfire.
He couldn’t help it—he smiled against her lips.
She did pull back at that. “Why are you smiling?”
“You delight me.”
He could not have stripped the smile from his face if he had wanted to. He was just too damned happy. Ari wasn’t smiling, however.
“I am honored you allowed me to give you your first French kisses,” he said quickly. At her confused look, he added, “A kiss with tongues is a real kiss.”
“How did—” Her fingers pressed to her lips.
“Trust me. I know these things.”
Ouch. That sounded arrogant even to him.
Evidently to Ari, too. “And only a rake would find it humorous to give a woman her first real kiss.”
“No, that’s not what I meant.”
He reached for her. She lurched back, just missing the statue of David.
“I told you; I’m a different man now.”
Stick to the truth. It is always best.
Ari looked uncertain.
With her gaze keenly settled on his face, he managed to slip a step closer. “I’m a reformed rake.”
And Jared realized he felt like one.
“You reformed me,” he whispered and leaned in to kiss her.
“And when your memory returns, you will go back to the old Jared,” she said, easing back.
His face followed hers in retreat, and he stumbled forward into David and knocked the statue over onto the pavers. David’s head parted company with his under-endowed body and rolled behind a hedge.
Ari stared wide-eyed at the broken artwork.
“Deuce take it! Ari, I’m sorry.”
“For breaking Papa’s statue or for laughing at my first real kiss?”
“Dammit, I did not laugh. That was happy smiling. I was so bloody happy, I couldn’t help it.”
Great. He had not meant to be quite that truthful.
“I am going in.”
“Wait! Do you believe me?”