Friday, June 2, 2017

Excerpt Blitz - - Duke with Benefits

Lady Daphne (a brilliant mathematician with no social skills, a hidden fear, and an inconvenient attraction to her benefactor's nephew), Dalton (the handsome duke who charms everyone except the brilliant woman for whom his desire - and feelings - continue to grow), a murder, a kidnapping, and a mystery filled with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the reveal make this fresh and clever historical romance by Manda Collins a must read. ~PJ

Duke with Benefits
By Manda Collins
Publisher: St. Martin's
Release Date: June 27, 2017

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on . . . and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest . . . and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

Duke with Benefits is the second in Manda Collins' Studies in Scandal series set in Regency England.

Duke with Benefits

“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.
“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”
“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”
“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”
His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.
“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”
What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.
At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.
“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”
His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.
“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”
Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.
“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”
“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”
“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”
Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.
“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.
Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.
His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”
“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”
Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”
Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”
“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”
Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”
“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”
“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”

Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

Do you enjoy opposites attract romances? How about bluestocking heroines?

Do you like a little mystery mixed in with your historical romance?

Have you read Manda Collins' books yet?

One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM (eastern), June 3, 2017 will receive a copy of the first book in the Studies in Scandal series: Ready, Set, Rogue
(open internationally)

Buy Links:

Manda’s Social Links:
Twitter: @MandaCollins
Facebook: @MandaCollinsAuthor

SMP Romance Social Links:
Twitter: @SMPRomance
Facebook: @SMPRomance


  1. I do like Manda Collins's books and to date, have read three of them. This book is on my list to read/review for NetGalley and I'm itching to get started on it.

    I do like a LITTLE mystery sometimes with my historical romances but not so much that it overwhelms the plot.

    Opposites attracting one another is always intriguing, but sometimes it becomes annoying if there is too much snarking back and forth.

    Congratulations, Manda, on your great successes!

    1. I think Collins creates the perfect blend of mystery and romance. Hope you enjoy the book, Connie.

  2. Love smart women and mystery with dashing man. This is on my booklist.

    1. All of Manda Collins' heroines are intelligent and give their heroes a run for their money. Hope you like this book as much as I did, Tina.

  3. I haven't read Manda Collins but I think a heroine who is a mathematician sounds wonderful.

  4. Mystery and romance combine well and smart women always are appealing. The novel sounds captivating.

    1. It kept me flipping pages way past my bedtime, petite.

  5. The repartee between the opposites is always entertaining since an intelligent woman is fascinating. Mystery adds to the story greatly.

  6. Lady Daphne sounds fascinating. I have always felt that knowledge of Pythagoras theorem and calculus was far more attractive (dare I say seductive) in a woman than the standard skills for ladies of the ton. Calculating geodesics could take on whole new meaning in her presence!

    Having opposites attract makes a romance very appealing for me, but never forget the corollary that likes repel!

  7. I can't wait to read this book - I do like a little mystery and also a strong and decisive hero. (Loved this excerpt.)

  8. Yes, love opposites attract. I enjoy a bit of angst with my romance lol. I definitely enjoy the mystery aspect too - adds to the plot. I've not read her as yet but have been wanting to!

  9. Janette GryniewiczJune 2, 2017 at 11:53 AM

    This sounds great. Looking forward to reading it.

  10. I love Manda's books. I enjoy a bit of mystery, strong heroines, and strong heroes. Can't wait to read this one!

  11. Love Manda's writing too, and a bit of mystery in a romance definitely adds something!

  12. The bluestocking heroine is one of my top five tropes, and I love Daphne! I think she may be my favorite Manda Collins heroine.

  13. I too love the bluestocking heroine as well. I also enjoy the opposites attract trope. It's so enjoyable watching them getting together. This is on my TRL .
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  14. I too love the bluestocking heroine as well. I also enjoy the opposites attract trope. It's so enjoyable watching them getting together. This is on my TRL .
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  15. I enjoy bluestocking heroines. I like the idea that being bright did not fit with any idea of what a woman should be and the women prove people wrong on so many levels. Daphne is a terrific heroine and she fits beautifully with Maitland. ( He is a sweetie) They make a very good couple. I like a mystery. For me it is nice to be able to try to solve a mystery as I am reading about two people falling in love. annettena at yahoo dot com

  16. That excerpt sounds wonderful, and I haven't read Manda Collins yet, but sounds like I'm missing out. Thanks for the offer!

  17. I love bluestocking heroines, especially if they have knowledge or skills normally attributed to males.

  18. I've read a few and loved them!

  19. Do I enjoy : opposites attract romances - yes, bluestocking heroines - yes, mystery with my romance - yes. This book is a good fit for my reading preferences. I don't believe I have yet read one of Manda Collins' books yet. However there are enough intriguing threads in the excerpt that I plan on reading it.

  20. Hi PJ and Manda! Congratulations on your new series, Manda! I've loved your previous series so I can't wait to dig into this one,too!

  21. I haven't read any of Manda's books, yet. I enjoy bluestocking heroines, opposites attract romances, and mystery mixed in with my historical romances.

  22. I haven't read any of Manda's books yet, either, but I enjoyed the excerpt tremendously and am certain I will enjoy her books. I think many of us romance readers were bluestockings ourselves when we were young with our heads always in a book, so that's probably why we love the genre so much!

  23. Since I majored in mathematics, how could I not read this? Love the excerpt and I'm sure the book will be much better!