Scarlett Wynn’s tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues—and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other—if she can resist the attraction that draws them together . . .
As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett’s fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. But when the pair learn both mysteries they’re trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger—and lead them to search their hearts like never before . . .
DUCHESS IF YOU DARE - The Story Behind the Story
by Anabelle Bryant
What do you get when you cross Little Women with The Justice League?
The Maidens of Mayhem, of course.
This elite group of women is a force to be reckoned with although they don’t have magical powers or fly around London. They possess fierce human skills and extraordinary talents so you wouldn’t want to ignite their temper or get caught while breaking the law.
Publishers Weekly recently called the Maidens of Mayhem, “crime-fighting and wrong-righting heroines who are part Robin Hood and part Batman”. Even more than that, they are strongminded women who believe everyone deserves to be respected and protected no matter what level of society they come from.
The idea for this new historical romance series came together as I watched Captain Marvel with my husband and son. Captain Marvel is strong, beautiful, and capable of saving the world. Only a fool would glance at her pretty face and underestimate her power.
Yet even now in 2021, women are still fighting to be respected and have their voices heard. Imagine how frustrating it was as a woman in 1817. While society pressured females to accept their roles in a more passive way back then, I believe there were many women of the time who wanted freedom to make decisions, start a business, manage their own money – to be independent and responsible, and in control.
Naturally, not everyone in the Regency era belonged to the upper class or aristocracy. So, who helped women in need? Who took their ideas seriously? What was their daily life like with no support from society?
These questions contributed to my concept for the Maidens of Mayhem. I wanted to shine a light on the female spirit and how women are resilient, emotionally strong, creative thinkers – back then and present day. I also wanted to write about life outside the ballroom, to show parts of London usually not depicted positively, and the challenges that existed for women. I touched on this condition in my BASTARDS OF LONDON stories, but that series was more focused on consequences for men.
Writing DUCHESS IF YOU DARE was freeing and exciting. Scarlett is a woman in control of her own life until she meets the Duke of Aylesford and matters become complicated. Perhaps she’s not in as much control as she once believed. Perhaps her heart is the one thing she can’t command to listen. She struggles with the choice between freedom and love until she realizes one doesn’t exclude the other. I hope you’ll read her story and discover all the emotion and excitement in her journey.
Duchess If You Dare excerpt
In this scene, Scarlett and Aylesford are in a dark alley together keeping watch on a private gaming hell. Their conversation eventually turns personal and the duke is both surprised and impressed after hearing Scarlett reveal her tragic past.
“And still, you seek to make London a better place at the cost of your time and safety.”
She didn’t reply to this comment. She’d never shared so much of her personal history with anyone before, never mind a nob. Still, there was so much to tell, she’d only offered a thimble’s worth. Nevertheless, she wasn’t inclined to offer more.
“I haven’t any connections to the underworld, this culture alive and thriving in London away from Mayfair where I suspect the man with the ruby ring conducts business.” Aylesford filled the silence. He moved closer and didn’t stop until he stood directly before her. With her shoulders against the bricks, she had nowhere to escape though she was profoundly aware of his attention. “And you need access to some of society’s more exclusive events so you might discover this nobleman who entices women away from the brothel never to be heard from again.”
“But isn’t the man you mention one and the same?” She shook her head and raised her eyes to match his. “Aren’t we both seeking the same person?”
“Of course. Perhaps. Maybe,” he murmured, the air between them fraught with a strange combination of disguised emotion and unspoken words. “Maybe not.”
They stood that way a minute longer and the mood changed. Precarious questions hung in the quiet. Their breathing paired in tandem. She relaxed by degree. The gaming hell was forgotten. When he placed his gloved palm on the wall at her back, she knew what he meant to do and despite her brain screaming an objection, her heart began to flutter a faster beat. A rush of anticipation swept through her. This was foolish. As foolish as throwing a knife blindfolded and having it bounce back and slice into one’s brow. As foolish as she’d ever behaved. And yet still she didn’t object.
He was going to kiss her and bloody hell, she wanted that kiss.
Duchess If You Dare is about being brave and facing fears. When is a time when you had to be your most brave?
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