Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Read an #Excerpt from The Rake's Daughter by Anne Gracie


About the Book

The Rake's Daughter
(The Brides of Bellaire Gardens #2)
by Anne Gracie 

Kindle Edition, 363 pages
Published July 26th 2022 by Berkley
An earl is forced to play matchmaker for the daughters of a rake in a smart and witty new Regency romance from the national bestselling author of The Scoundrel’s Daughter.

Recently returned to England, Leo, the new Earl of Salcott, discovers he's been thrust into the role of guardian to an heiress, the daughter of a notorious rake. Even worse, his wealthy ward has brought her half-sister, the beautiful but penniless Isobel, with her. Leo must introduce Clarissa to London society and find her a suitable husband, but her illegitimate half sister, Izzy, is quite another matter. Her lowly birth makes her quite unacceptable in aristocratic circles.

However, the girls are determined to enter society together. They’re devoted to each other and despite the risk of scandal and ruin if Izzy’s parentage is discovered, they refuse to be separated. Much to Leo’s frustration, nothing he says or does will convince them otherwise. To further complicate matters, sparks fly every time Leo and Izzy interact.

Called away for a quick visit to his country estate, Leo instructs the young ladies to stay quietly at home and consider their position. But when he returns, he's infuriated to discover that Clarissa and Izzy have launched themselves into society—and with tremendous success! There's no going back. Now Leo must enter society himself, protect Clarissa from fortune hunters, and try not to be driven mad by the sharp-witted, rebellious Izzy, and the rich, unworthy men drawn to her beauty.


A shabby old-fashioned traveling carriage, piled high with luggage, covered with dust and pulled by four weary-looking horses had stopped at his front entrance.  This then, was it. He sighed and for the thousandth time cursed Sir Bartleby Studley.
A footman let down the steps of the coach and a young lady alighted. Slightly plump and dressed in pink, with a hat encrusted with flowers, she stood on the footpath, gazing about her surroundings with interest. Which one was she, Leo wondered, the legitimate daughter or the other?
A second young woman stepped down from the coach. She was slender and dressed in an olive green dress and a bronze-colored spencer. Her hat was plain straw and was simply finished with an olive colored ribbon. A matter of taste or a lack of money?  
He couldn't see their faces for their hats.
Matteo ran down the front steps, bowed to the young ladies, then turned with a sweeping gesture to halt the footman who was about to start unloading luggage. He spoke briefly to the coachman, who visibly bristled—large Englishmen apparently didn't take kindly to being ordered around by small Italians, but Leo had every faith in Matteo. His majordomo then escorted the young ladies into the house.
After allowing the young woman to refresh themselves in an upstairs room he'd especially prepared for them, Matteo escorted them to the sitting room where Leo was waiting. "Miss Studley and Miss Studley, milor'," he said, presenting them with a flourish.
Miss Studley and Miss Burton, Leo corrected him mentally. Studley's illegitimate daughter had no right to his surname, but Matteo couldn’t be expected to know that.
He introduced himself. Miss Flowery Hat turned out to be Miss Clarissa Studley; the other one was therefore Isobel Burton. Leo took one look at her and his throat dried.
Oh. My. God. Why had no-one warned him?
There could be no doubt of her paternity: she was the feminine embodiment of Sir Bartleby Studley—only beautiful. Stunningly beautiful. And not just in the common way. If beauty could ever be common.
Clad in a plainly cut dress of olive green and bronze, she should have looked drab, but instead the dull colors flattered her pure, satiny complexion and highlighted the color of her wide, fern-green eyes which, he couldn't help but notice, were framed with long dark lashes. Tiny dark curls danced around a face that was a perfect oval. His fingers itched to run through those curls, see if they were as soft as they looked. 
And her mouth, dear lord, her mouth . . .  He swallowed. He had not bargained for this. . .
Matteo fussed around, getting the ladies seated and comfortable, which gave Leo a moment or two to gather his scattered wits.
He was jerked back to attention when Matteo cleared his throat ostentatiously. "I bring tea and cakes, milor', yes?" he suggested with a droll look that implied that he was repeating the question and was quite aware of the cause of Leo's distraction. And approved.
Leo nodded vaguely and tried to drag his gaze off Isobel Burton.  She wasn't a conventional beauty, he told himself. She was arresting, rather than pretty, with a small straight nose, high cheekbones, a pointed chin and a mouth that . . . 
No. Leo swallowed again. He did not need to be thinking of her mouth. He was in some sense—at least for the moment—her guardian, not some irresponsible rake. His job was to get rid of her, not stare at her mouth as if it were . . . edible.
He tried to remember what he'd planned to say. He fastened his gaze, if not his whole attention, on Miss Studley. Who was much safer.
"Did you have a pleasant journey, Miss Studley?"
"Oh yes, most interesting," Miss Studley responded cheerfully. "Though it took a lot longer than we expected."
From the corner of his eye he watched as Isobel Burton pulled off her gloves, one  finger at a time. Removing gloves should not be erotic, Leo thought desperately. She draped them across her thigh, and smoothed them with long, elegant fingers.
Leo forced his attention back to the conversation. What had he asked about? Oh yes, the journey.
Oblivious of his inattention, Miss Studley continued, "We spent last night in an inn—the first time for either of us, and that was quite interesting. Nanny—my old nanny, you understand—wrote ahead and bespoke a bedchamber and a sitting room for us, otherwise we would have had to share a bedchamber with strangers!" 
She frowned and added breathlessly, "There will be provision made for the servants at Studley Park, won't there, Lord Salcott? Only when we left, none of us knew whether Papa's cousin—the new owner—would be keeping everyone on, or staffing the house with his own people. It's very worrying. Nanny is quite old, and the others have worked at Studley Park as long as I can remember, haven't they Izzy?"
Her half-sister nodded. "Yes, we're very concerned about them. The lawyer's instructions were that we were only allowed to bring one maidservant to London—"
"And Nanny insisted she was too old to be racketing around London, so we brought Betty," Miss Studley added.
"So we had to leave Nanny and the others behind, not knowing what their future would be. Do you have any idea, Lord Salcott?" Isobel Burton's voice was low and melodious and velvety, a kind of audible honey.
Which was a ridiculous notion, Leo told himself sternly. Honey was not audible. Besides, his job here was to free Miss Studley from her half-sister’s influence. 
And not to drool over her. 
"The staff at Studley Park Manor are nothing to do with me," he said. Damn Studley — yet another responsibility the man had dodged.
Isobel Burton leaned forward. "Perhaps not, but you can make enquiries on their behalf, can you not, Lord Salcott?" Her voice was soft and seductive, her eyes luminous and full of apparent sincerity.
Leo stiffened. Lavinia had used just such caressing tones. They’d meant nothing, except that she wanted something. Such tactics no longer had any effect on him, he vowed.

Excerpted from The Rake's Daughter by Anne Gracie Copyright © 2022 by Anne Gracie. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

About the Author

Anne Gracie is the award-winning author of the Marriage of Convenience, Chance Sisters, and Brides of Bellaire Gardens romance series. She started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world, writing by hand in notebooks. Since then, her books have been translated into more than sixteen languages, and include Japanese manga editions. As well as writing, Anne promotes adult literacy, flings balls for her dog, enjoys her tangled garden, and keeps bees. Learn more online at

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