The Romany King's Mistress
Why does the Duke want Lydia to marry his friend so badly? What is he trying to hide from her?
This novel picks up some eight years after the events in Ride a Consort.
Mortified by his younger son’s marriage, the now-ageing Duke of Carston does not suffer Wil’s name to be mentioned in his houses, nor does he show any interest in his son’s whereabouts. This distresses Lady Lydia, who was delighted for Wil when he found happiness with his Romany Princess Syeira.
But now Lydia is alone, with no one to safeguard her interests but her distant father. Once vivacious and friendly, she grows more isolated. After her 'coming out' in London fails to produce any marriage proposals, her father determines to marry Lydia off to one of his political allies. The prospective husband is known for his cruelty.
In the face of this, Lydia undertakes a desperate attempt to reach her eldest brother in Paris. Travelling under a false name, she wards off danger by declaring that she is mistress to a Romany royal, and under his protection.
Everything seems to be going to plan... until she runs into the Romany royal himself.
For the life of him, the Romany King cannot figure out why this beautiful young Englishwoman seems so familiar, or why he feels so drawn to her...
What is she hiding – and why?
Taster . . .
Valkin halted just beyond the clearing in shocked surprise. Had he heard the girl correctly? Good God, had he been that careless? Had she come to ask him to take responsibility for a child? He did not think either his men or the girl could see him from their positions but he had a perfectly clear view of her. And he didn’t recall her face at all. The little chit! How dare she claim to be under his protection! Did she expect his men to think she was one of his lovers? He would never allow them anywhere near his campsite.
How the devil did this girl – he studied at her face again to be sure he didn’t recognise her – come to claim she was one of his mistresses? Soft chestnut curls framed her pretty heart-shaped face, with large eyes and a delectably sensual mouth. Her cloak lay in folds covering her body but he could already tell, with an eye that had paid intimate attention to many women over many years, that the cloak hid curves he wouldn’t object to learning. Which brought him back to the situation at hand. There was something familiar about her to be sure, but he was sure he hadn’t been to her bed. Almost certain, in fact. Almost? His face twisted in chagrin. Well, he never claimed to be a saint but if his lifestyle had now reached the point where he couldn’t remember a woman he’d taken to bed it was high time he settled down. Yet he knew – he just knew he hadn’t –.
She wouldn’t be the first English lady who wanted to ‘sample’ a Romany lover. He had no objection to that. She was going about it with some nerve though. He would like to teach this girl a few things about taking liberties with his name – among other things he mused. His body hardened. Under his protection? There was a price to pay for what she was asking and it certainly included being under him. He quietly eased his mount forward, gesturing for his men to retreat.
Leaning in so close his breath warmed her neck, he spoke directly into her ear. “There is a price to pay for travelling under my protection.”
Lydia spun around, her cloak gaped wide. Valkin’s eyes fell immediately into her low bodice – now she looked like one of his lovers, right enough. He was also absolutely certain now that she wasn’t. He would never forget losing himself in those curves. Desire flared within him and combined with his anger until it seemed he viewed her through a heated haze. He barely registered the look of terror on the girl’s face. He was too furious for words as he closed the slight distance between them.
Lydia looked away from the Prince’s blazing dark gaze. Oh my lord, what now?