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How to Tame Your Duke

By:Juliana Gray

How to Tame Your Duke
Juliana Gray

       ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I started the month of May 2012 as an impatient writer-in-waiting. Now,  with the release of How to Tame Your Duke in June 2013, I find myself  the exhausted author of six books in print: four historical romances as  Juliana Gray, and two general romantic fiction titles as Beatriz  Williams. Such excess could not occur without the heroic support of a  great many wonderful people. Among them:

My agent and personal superhero, Alexandra Machinist, and the entire  team of professionals at Janklow & Nesbit who execute so flawlessly  on every front: thank you, thank you for allowing me to focus on writing  alone.

My Berkley editor, Kate Seaver, whose sound advice and excellent taste  improve every book; her assistant, Katherine Pelz, a miracle of  organization; my meticulous copy editor, who keeps my timelines straight  and my hyphens invisible; Erin Galloway, publicist of boundless energy;  and all the talented and enthusiastic teams in art, production,  marketing, and sales.

My husband, children, and in-laws, whose patience and love are essential and unending.

The best readers in the world, whose emails and Facebook comments inspire me daily.

And the greatest gift of all this past year: those countless instances  of breathtaking generosity from the writing and romance communities. You  enrich my life. There are no words big enough to thank you.





PROLOGUE





London, England

October 1889

At two o'clock in the morning, as a cold autumn rain drummed against the  damask-shrouded windowpanes of his Park Lane town house, the Duke of  Olympia was awoken by his valet and told that three ladies awaited him  downstairs in his private study.

"Three ladies, did you say?" asked Olympia, as he might say three copulating hippopotamuses.

"Yes, sir. And two attendants."

"In my study?"

"I thought it best, sir," said the valet. "The study is situated at the back of the house."

Olympia stared at the ducal canopy above his head. "Isn't it Ormsby's  job to take care of such matters? Turn the women away, or else toss them  into the upstairs bedchambers until morning."

The valet adjusted the sleeve of his dressing gown. "Mr. Ormsby elected  to refer the matter to me, Your Grace, as an affair of a personal  nature, requiring Your Grace's immediate attention." His voice flexed  minutely on the word immediate. "The attendants, of course, are in the  kitchen."

Olympia's ears gave a twinge. His sleep-darkened mind began to awaken  and spark, like a banked fire brought back to life by a surly housemaid.  "I see," he said. He continued to stare into the canopy. The pillow  beneath his head was of finest down encased in finest linen, cradling  his skull in weightless lavender-scented comfort. Beneath the heavy  bedcovers, his body made a warm cocoon into the softness of the  mattress. He removed one hand from this haven and plucked the nightcap  from his head. "Three ladies, did you say?"

"Yes, sir. And a dog." The valet made his disapproval of the dog apparent without the smallest change of voice.

"A corgi, I believe. And the ladies: two auburn and one fair?"

"Yes, sir."

Olympia sat up and heaved a sigh. "I've been expecting them."

Eight minutes later, in a yellow dressing gown rioting with British  lions, with his silvering hair neatly brushed and his chin miraculously  shaved, the Duke of Olympia opened the door to his private study in a  soundless whoosh.

"Good morning, my dears," he said cordially.

The three ladies jumped in their three chairs. The corgi launched  himself into the air and landed, legs splayed, atop the priceless  Axminster rug, on which he promptly disgraced himself.

"I beg your pardon," Olympia said. "Don't rise, I implore you."

The three ladies dropped back into the chairs, except the auburn-haired  youngest, who scooped up the dog with a reproving whisper.

"Your Grace," said the eldest, "I apologize most abjectly for the  irregularity of our arrival. I hope we have not put out your household.  We meant not to disturb you until morning . . ."

"Except that wretched new butler of yours, Ormsby or whatever the devil his name was . . ." burst out the youngest.

"Stefanie, my dear!" exclaimed the eldest.

Olympia smiled and shut the door behind him with a soft click. He  stepped toward the center of the room and stopped before the first  chair. "Luisa, dear child. How well you look, in spite of everything."  He took her hand and squeezed it. "A very great pleasure to see you  again, Your Highness, after so many years."

"Oh, Uncle." A blush spread across Luisa's pale cheeks, and her hollow  blue-eyed gaze seemed to fill a trifle. "You're terribly kind."                       
       
           



       

"And Stefanie, my dear scamp. Do you know, I recently met another young  lady who reminded me very much of you. It made my old heart ache, I  assure you." Olympia reached for Stefanie's hand, but she instead  released the dog, sprang from her chair, and threw her arms around him.

"Uncle Duke, how perfectly sporting of you to take us in! I knew you would. You always were such a trump."

Stefanie's arms were young and strong about his waist, and he patted her  back with gentle hands and laughed. "You always were the most reckless  girl in that damned cow pasture of a principality you call home."

"Holstein-Schweinwald-Huhnhof is not a cow pasture, Uncle Duke!"  Stefanie pulled back and slapped his arm. "It's the most charming  principality in Germany. Herr von Bismarck himself pronounced it  magnificent. And dear Vicky . . ."

"Yes, of course, my dear. I was only teasing. Quite charming, I'm sure."  Olympia suppressed a shudder. Bucolic landscapes made his belly twitch.  He turned to the final princess of charming  Holstein-Schweinwald-Huhnhof, the middle child, quietly soothing the  corgi, who was yapping and whining by turns. "And Emilie," he said.

Emilie looked up and smiled at him behind her spectacles. "Uncle." She placed the corgi on the rug and rose.

How old was the girl now? Twenty-three? Twenty-four? But her eyes looked  older, round and owlish, improbably ancient amid the clear skin and  delicate bones of her face. Her hair gleamed golden in the light from  the single electric lamp on Olympia's desk. The other two were handsome  girls, constructed on regal lines that showed well in photographs, but  Emilie's beauty was more subtle. It ducked and hid behind her spectacles  and her retiring nature. A scholar, Emilie: She could parse her Latin  and Greek better than Olympia himself. A strain of genius ran through  the family blood, and Emilie had caught it in full.

"My dear girl." Olympia caught her hands and kissed her cheek. "How are you?"

"I am well, Uncle." She spoke quietly, but there were tears in her voice.

"Sit down, all of you. I have ordered tea. You must be exhausted." He  motioned to the chairs and propped himself on the corner of his desk.  "Did you make the crossing last night?"

"Yes, after sunset," said Stefanie. "I was sick twice."

"Really, Stefanie." Luisa was sharp.

"It was the licorice," said Stefanie, sitting back in her chair and  looking at the gilded ceiling. "I never could resist licorice, and that  little boy at the quayside . . ."

"Yes, quite," said Olympia. "And your attendants?"

"Oh, they were quite all right. Sturdy stomachs, you know."

Olympia coughed. "I mean, who are they? Can they be trusted?"

"Yes, of course." Luisa shot a reproving look-not the first-at Stefanie.  "Our governess, who as you know has been with us a thousand years, and  Papa's"-her voice quivered slightly-"Papa's valet, Hans."

"Yes, I remember Hans," said Olympia. He focused his mind on the memory:  a burly fellow, not the most delicate hand with a neckcloth, but his  eyes burned with loyalty to his master, whom he had served since before  the prince's marriage to Olympia's youngest sister. "I remember Miss  Dingleby, as well. It was I who sent her to your mother, when Luisa was  ready for schooling. I am relieved to hear she has escaped safely with  you."

"So you have heard the tale." Luisa looked down at her hands, tangled tightly in her lap.

"Yes, my dear," Olympia said, in his kindest voice. "I am very sorry."

"Of course he's heard," said Emilie, in an expectedly brisk voice. Her  eyes, fixed on Olympia's face, gleamed sharply behind her spectacles.  "Our uncle knows about all these things, often before the rest of the  world. Isn't that so, Uncle?"

Olympia spread his broad hands before them. "I am a private man. I simply hear things, from time to time . . ."

"Nonsense," said Emilie. "You were expecting us. Tell us what you know,  Uncle. I should like, for once, to hear the entire story. When one's  trapped in the middle of things, you see, it's all rather muddled." She  looked at him steadily, with those wise eyes, and Olympia, whose innards  were not easily unsettled except by bucolic landscapes, knew a distinct  flip-flop in the region of his liver.

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