A Honeymoon Masquerade

A Honeymoon Masquerade by Victoria Vale

Book: A Honeymoon Masquerade by Victoria Vale Read Free Book Online
Authors: Victoria Vale
 
    Part One: Setting the Stage
     
    Margaret Rycroft, Duchess of Avonleah, wafted her fan before her face. Her ineffectual attempt at cooling herself offered proof that her first fête at Avonleah House could be called a smashing success. The large ballroom off the back of the Grosvenor Square townhouse she inhabited with her husband the duke overflowed with guests. It would seem she had passed their inspection. The new duchess met with their approval.
    Gazing across the room at the man who’d stolen her heart, she decided that it didn’t matter what anyone thought. Sure, their match had been the most unexpected of the season—he’d been a rake intent on avoiding marriage, and she a young debutante in her first season. No one could have guessed that he would chose her, but he had. His love was the only thing that mattered to her—the ton could go to the devil.
    Cerulean eyes snapped up to meet hers from across the room. The candlelight caused his dark, raven black hair to gleam. His figure was shown to its best advantaged in his black and white evening clothes, and just the sight of him proved enough to turn the majority of the women in the room into blithering idiots.
    Camden Rycroft, the duke. Pride filled her as she remembered, yet again, that he was hers. Those blithering idiots could covet him all they wanted—Avonleah had eyes only for her.
    Though he conversed with an acquaintance, his attention became rapt upon her. His mask of affected boredom fell away, and a slow, sensual burn alit in his eyes. His mouth curved in a knowing smirk, causing heat to flame in her cheeks at the memory of that decadent mouth exploring every inch of her body.
    She watched him end the conversation with a politely mumbled ‘excuse me’, before circling the ballroom toward her. Giving her a fan a flick, she made her way toward him. Taking her time, she paused to greet her guests and acknowledge those vying for her attention. A baron’s daughter, she had never experienced so much close scrutiny in her life. Nor had she been familiar with this level of notoriety. Those who, barely six weeks ago, did not even know her name, now vied for her attention and notice. Noticing several pearl-encrusted bodices and lilac-colored gowns, she couldn’t help a chuckle. They even imitated her fashions, down to her favorite color and chosen adornments.
    “Has anyone ever told you how enchanting you are in that shade of lilac?”
    Her husband’s deep voice caressed up and down her spine as he came up behind her, standing as close as propriety allowed. He’d snuck up on her as she’d paused to greet a friend. Heat emanated from him, seeping as deep as her bones. His deep baritone caused her nipples to tighten inside her bodice and her stomach to quiver with longing. Heavens above, being married had turned her into the most wanton of creatures.
    No, it wasn’t marriage that had transformed her, but the man. Camden had brought her passionate nature to the surface, and now she could hardly stand to be in his presence without surrendering to the burning desire he incited.
    Difficult to deal with in a crowded ballroom, that.
    She turned to face him, lilting her fan before her face like a practiced coquette. Bringing one hand up to her throat, she caressed her pearl choker, then lower, drawing his gaze toward her daring neckline. Being a married lady had also freed her to dress as she’d always wished to. Gone was the milky debutante and in her place stood a self-assured woman. Her satin gown showed far more shoulder and bosom than she’d ever displayed in any ballroom, and the skirt clung lovingly to her curves when she moved.
    “I have been told countless times, Your Grace,” she murmured, giving him a coy grin. “So many times, in fact, that the compliment has lost its effect.”
    “Ah,” he replied, quirking one dark brow. “I’d better try harder then.”
    Extending his arm to her, he gave her a meaningful look, one she knew well. In a

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