The King's Mistress
This Regency romance novel picks up some eight years after the events in Always a Princess.
Why does the Duke want Lydia to marry his friend so badly? What is he trying to hide from her?
Mortified by his younger son’s marriage, the now-ageing Duke of Carston doesn't 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 secure any proposals, His Grace determines to marry Lydia off to a man 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, Lord Brishen can't 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 . . .
Lydia shifted in her sideways seat (oh, how her stays cut!), trying unsuccessfully to rein her horse into a circle. It came to her suddenly that she was completely, utterly alone. At the mercy of strangers who might do anything they wanted with her.
“I am – I am Miss Martha Dale, an intimate f-friend of Valkin Brishen. I was hoping he – he might aid – ,” she cleared her throat. “That is, I am here to seek the assistance of the Romany King.” Staring down at her hands, cold fear snaked along her spine.
She suppressed a shiver, lifting her chin immediately. The men stepped back into the bushes quite suddenly, as though by command.
Perhaps the next move was supposed to be hers? She rather thought offering them something might be her best strategy. Money was not necessarily of interest to the Romany. It might be better to offer her jewels. Oh how she wished her head would stop pounding for just a moment so she could think. Gazing down at her hands again,
Lydia's vision blurred as frightened tears burned her eyes. Her skin literally throbbed with pain.
She swallowed hard, blinking furiously. Closing her eyes tightly, she shook her aching head and attempted to straighten her mounted seat; almost impossible in a sidesaddle. Drawing herself up as erect as she could, almost certain her stays had drawn blood, Lydia nerved herself to call after the little band of men. Before she could utter a word, she heard the sound of a horse immediately behind her and froze.
Warm breath caressed her neck as a dark voice spoke directly into her ear. “There is a price to pay for travelling under my protection, gadje.” Rough lips touched the sensitive skin at the side of her face. Lydia shivered against them for just an instant before flinching away. She spun around, her cloak gaping open as her eyes met the blazing dark gaze of the Romany King.
Oh lord, what now?