Falling for the Heartbroken Duke (Preview)


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Chapter One

He heard the pounding on the steps and buried his head under the soft feather pillows just before James Weston, the Marquess Hempstead, burst into the room.

Lord Robert Weston rolled to the side of the bed towards the wall, groaning, and further shielding his head with his arms. His older brother was in a foul mood again, and there was nothing to do but listen to the imminent tirade.

Although only two years separated them, the brothers were as different as night and day. Lord James was tall, dark, and dashing, much as their father had been in his youth. But Robert, though sharing his mother’s eyes with his brother, didn’t resemble either of the two men in his immediate family. His dark hair bore a tint of chestnut which set off the deep green of his gaze. His was a larger frame of build to Lord James, and no one seemed to know from where Lord Robert’s way with horses had come. He was an exceptional horseman, and a successful lawyer. And despite being a second son, he did not lack for lucrative marriage prospects. A woman would step down a notch for a man like Lord Robert.

“How can you say you’re a man when you act no better than a common rake? A scoundrel. You make me ill.”

“No better than a rake, a scoundrel? I make you ill? Surely you, Marquess, can come up with better than that. There’s cad, scrub, and my personal favourite, the un-licked cub.” Lord Robert sneered at his older brother and waited for the words or the blow that would respond.

“This is about Lady Judith. Not the unlicked cub you fancy yourself to be. How unfeeling. How uncaring How selfish. How utterly low. Our mother would be most upset with you. Our father is ashamed of you and me.”

“Our mother? What do you mean by that? Our mother’s been dead these last thirteen years or have you forgotten. Terence, are you about? Please, bring me my coffee. The special blend.”

The butler poked his head into the room. “As you wish, My Lord.”

Lord Robert turned his attention back to Lord James as the infinitely patient Terence pulled his head back to rejoin his body in the hallway.

“Now, James. What is this all about? You barging in here like this? I’m barely awake.” He embraced his head with both hands. “Ugh. So you were saying something, My Lord? About Lady Judith? She’s back from her travels? Finally … it’s only been three years. Now out with it … what about the lady? And why are you here in this angry manner? I won’t be torn from slumber for nothing. Let us hear it.”

“If you must know, and well, of course you must because it concerns you; Lady Judith is back from her travels abroad with the Countess Bennington. It’s been three years, as you remember. What you don’t know is the Countess expired somewhere along the way. Apparently, the old girl came down with, of all things … typhus. She expired in a matter of days. Dancing at a fete one night, and then resting in a foreign grave three nights later.”

“How dreadfully unfortunate, our father will be sorry to hear it. His only sister. She was a dear old lady, always kind to me, God rest her soul. And what is this ruckus you’re making about Lady Judith? You say she’s returned, and it has something to do with me?” Lord Robert’s head was thumping. The excesses of the previous evening had caught up to him with annoying speed but did nothing to dampen his curiosity. Or the subtle sense of longing that began to spread from his head to his four limbs and, finally, to his heart.

A light knock sounded. Terence, the butler, entered with a silver tray upon which rested an urn filled with fragrant black coffee and a small glass of whisky.

“Thank you, Terence.” Lord Robert sat up and took the whisky in one swallow. Then he poured a small cup of coffee, offering his brother none, and gulped it down. The butler bowed and left the room with the whisky glass in his pocket.

Lord James frowned. “Are you finished with this declasse behaviour? Will you listen to me now? You jest, but it is important. Very important. And quite honestly, if I didn’t know you, I wouldn’t believe it. As I said, his grace our father, is beside himself. We are both, his grace and I, humiliated beyond bounds. So, My Lord, are you quite finished with your coffee? Will you listen now?”

“Yes, yes. I’m finished. I was unaware that drinking coffee impedes the hearing, but do go on.” Lord Robert rolled his eyes. There was nothing he could do correctly as far as his father, the Duke of Atwater or his brother, the Marquess Hempstead, were concerned.

“Lady Judith. So very sweet, so lovely. How could you be so callous? The poor woman has no one, Robert. No one but us. She is part of our blood family.”

“I’m not following, James. How could I be so callous? I don’t know what it is you’re referring to. I’m barely awake.”

“You mean barely sober, I daresay. Do you honestly expect me to believe that you, of all people, do not have knowledge of the return of our dear cousin Judith? Robert! For shame. What I find even more insulting is your lack of compassion.”

“Oh, you’re insulted as well as humiliated? I must have been on a roll, whatever it is I did, to provoke such a flurry of undesirable feelings in you, My Lord.”

“Yes, I am insulted.” Hempstead’s eyes narrowed. You look and act as if you feel no remorse for your actions, Robert. No self-reproach at all. You certainly aren’t taking responsibility for your heinous behaviour. So cold. So very, very cold. Vicious even. I’m quite beside myself with embarrassment among other things.” Hempstead removed a small snuff box from his coat pocket and dipped into it. He brought the pinch to his nostril and took a sharp inhalation without bothering to hide behind the veil of a handkerchief.

Robert observed his brother and shook his head slightly. Declasse, indeed. “Even you must be exaggerating when you call me vicious, James. Remorse? Responsibility? How have I neglected any responsibility? What do I have to feel remorse about other than allowing you to stay in my chamber?” Lord Robert nearly yelled. “I should have you thrown out of this room.” He reclined on the bed, upset with himself for his outburst. His brother was the only person he knew who had the ability to pull him out from behind the facade of Lord Robert Weston. The slightly cocky, exceedingly good looking, and supremely charming, Lord Robert Weston.

“You haven’t kept your word, Robert. Did you actually think you could get away with it? Your word. You’ll never be taken seriously by the ton, by anyone, ever again. You have no merit.”

“I have no merit? I haven’t kept my word? To whom? About what? James, what is this about? I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.” Robert poured another cup of coffee, wishing fervently that Terence would reappear with another glass of whisky. His hand moved towards the bell cord, but he thought better of it. He didn’t need to give his brother any more ammunition to use against him.

It was James’s turn to roll his eyes. “Since you insist on acting the fool, dear brother, I’ll repeat the story to you. The whole sordid story.”

“Oh, it’s sordid now? Your insults mount, My Lord. Please, enlighten me. Tell me the reason for this, this gross invasion of my privacy?”

Lady Judith has shared with me, and a number of others I might add, that you and she had an agreement.”

“An agreement? An agreement concerning what, pray tell?” Lord Robert fell back against the bed pillows. “What did she say I agreed to? What could she have said? She left me, James. I waited for her. She’s back. That’s what I know. It’s all I know. And you stand here, before me, with some hare-brained tale that involves remorse, regret, sordidness, and any other manner of malicious content. The ton must be chomping at the proverbial bit for a juicy story is all I can reckon.”

“I have the story directly from the lady in question. Lady Judith told me, in strictest confidence until we were overheard, that three years ago, when she was seventeen, and before she and her mother went abroad.”

“You were overheard? Is that it? And then the lady had to repeat her confidence to everyone present. Where were you, by the way?”

“Almack’s, not that it makes any difference.”

“Trust me, dear brother, it makes all the difference. What time were you there? And if Lady Judith was with you, when did I behave in such vile fashion towards her? Can you answer me that?”

“The lady came to the club at somewhere around eleven o’clock. She was distraught. She’d just come from St James Street, where she’d dined with you.”

“I was not at the townhouse on St James. I haven’t set foot in the place for three years. It was my knowledge that the place had been rented.”

“Come now. Do I look like I was born yesterday, My Lord? Your carriage was seen in the vicinity last evening. Lady Judith told me that you and she had a secret pact. A pact to marry. The wedding was to take place when she returned from her travels.”

“Lady Judith said that?” Lord Robert sat bolt upright in the giant four poster bed, and throwing caution to the wind, reached for the bell cord to alert Terence to bring up more whisky.

“You and she were secretly betrothed. I must admit my surprise and shock when she told me that considering the fair amount of wenching you have indulged in over the past year or two.”

“Judith stopped writing to me, James. I am not made of stone.”

“Yes, yes, of course. When Lady Judith returned home and invited you to dine with her last evening, she looked forward to the rekindling of the relationship. She is alone, without her mother, and you broke off with her. My God, Robert, have you no thought for anyone but yourself?”

“She told you I broke a wedding promise?” Robert’s face paled. This was bad. Very bad indeed. “How could I break a promise that was never made? This story is untrue, James. How much brandy had you drunk by the time you were alerted to this alleged travesty I’m involved in?”

“Don’t try and turn this on me, little brother. Your law degree will do you no good in this situation. Come clean and just admit you dined with Judith last night. Clearly you went beyond the point of inebriation, or you would not be surprised by any of this. Judith told me and everyone else she knows how … how humiliated you made her feel. She was, as I said, distraught. You’re as good as finished, dear brother.”

“It matters not that Lady Judith has told people this story. What she said is untrue. I was at the club for half the night, hence the sighting of my carriage. I played cards with Tom Radcliffe and two others. They cleaned me out. If you don’t believe me, look in my wallet. Or better yet, ask Lord Thomas.”

“Tell it to the ton, Robert. Brooks’s is just down the street from the Bennington townhouse. You could have slipped out and dined with Judith unbeknownst to anyone else. And do you actually think Tom Radcliffe will say anything to the contrary of your words? There would be no reason for me to consult with him about anything having to do with you. I’ve seen his loyalty to you. He would lie to Prince George himself if it would absolve you of a wrongdoing.”

Robert reclined against the pillows, eyes closed, trying to make some sense of the story his brother was relating. Why would Judith concoct such a wealth of lies?

“Oh … you realize this will most likely be in the papers tomorrow.” James smiled gleefully when Robert opened his eyes.

He ran his hands through his hair and sighed. “Ugh. The papers! Why would Lady Judith do something like this?” he whispered to the bed curtains.

The soft linen sheets he laid upon felt stiff and coarse against his skin, the sunlight from the window was caustic to his eyes, and he felt himself getting short of breath. If what the Marquess said was true, then Lady Judith had done something so utterly damaging to Lord Robert’s personal reputation he would have to leave London. Today. As soon as possible before anyone saw him. Better even to hide in his bedchamber all day and leave by cover of darkness.

“Do you hear me?” Lord James shouted drawing Lord Robert from his thoughts.

“Yes, the papers. It will be in all the papers. Well, it will be in the papers then.”

“That’s all you have to say about it?”

“What more can I say about it? You don’t believe that it’s untrue. I have not a leg to stand on with you or, apparently, anyone except Lord Thomas.”

“Well, it seems to me you should stay in today and leave for Hempstead Hall tonight. Under cover of darkness.”

“My thoughts exactly.” Lord Robert was coming back into himself. He couldn’t, for the life of him, imagine why Lady Judith would say something untrue about him. However, this scandalous story was absolutely ruinous. Even Robert, who disregarded the majority of the ton, knew that this story could taint his and his family’s reputation forever. His word would never be respected again. He sighed once more. “Will you take a note to Judith for me?”

“I’ll do nothing of the sort. You can’t think I’ll support you in this sort of gross mistreatment of any woman, much less our cousin. You’d be wise to heed my words and lay low until tonight.”

“I see.” Lord Robert knew it was no use to try and argue the point when his brother was in a frame of mind such as this. The frame of mind that consisted of an already firmly established opinion.

“I must be going, and I trust you won’t be here when I return tonight. You’ve brought shame on this house. You’ve brought shame on our good name. Our father will never get over it, I’m afraid. ”

Lord Robert winced at this last. No matter what he said or did, he was, somehow, always a disappointment to the old duke. Now, he’d allegedly done something akin to social suicide. “Never fear, Lord James. You won’t find me under your roof.” He smiled wryly at the Marquess’s back as the man turned and the bedchamber door slammed.

Robert fell back on the pillows again and closed his eyes. He hadn’t brought shame to anyone. Lady Judith had simply gone on an extended tour, a gift from her mother. It had been an early birthday present for her eighteenth birthday. She would turn eighteen in Paris or Rome or Seville. Somewhere other than London.

Judith. Lord Robert had been so in love with her. For as long as he could remember, he’d had feelings for her. And she’d returned them. Until he’d asked her to become his wife.

Then she’d wiped a tear from her eye and told him she’d always love him. But, she was too young for marriage, she’d said.

At the last minute, she’d asked him to wait for her, and he’d joyously assented. He’d let her go with the expectation of a happy and loving reunion. And he’d waited patiently. And waited. Biding his time until her unplanned return.

After one year with no word from her, he’d begun to question everything he knew to be real about their relationship. He’d begun to question everything he knew to be real about Judith. To learn that she was telling stories about him that were untrue and scandalous caused more consternation.

He sat up abruptly. He must go to see her. That way she could tell him that the story his brother had given him was untrue. It had to be untrue. Why, he was even angry at himself for believing it. He rang for Terence to come and help him bathe and dress.

Forty-five minutes later, he was ready to visit his lady love. Cream coloured pantaloons, high boots, soft cotton shirt, silk waistcoat, and his newest double-breasted tailcoat. He nervously asked Terence to retie his cravat then topped the ensemble off with his new beaver hat.

He made his way downstairs, out back to the mews and the stable. He wouldn’t take his own curricle. It was too recognizable. “Daniel, hitch up the old carriage.”

“Yes, My Lord. Is it just yourself today? I can have your curricle ready for you immediately.”

“The old carriage, Daniel.” Lord Robert would need only to sit back, pressed against the seat, away from the windows to be hidden from prying eyes. No one would be the wiser. The ton was already brimming with salacious gossip about him. The carriage bore no crest or coat of arms to alert pedestrians to whom the occupant might be. He waited for Daniel, one shiny, polished boot tapping rapidly on the stones of the stable yard.

“I’m going to see Lady Judith at the family home in St James Square. Her father’s home. I find myself somewhat fortunate that the story weaving Lady had no desire to stay at Regent Street upon her return to London.”

Lady Judith’s mother had been the sister of Duke Atwater. The house on Regent Street was as familiar to Lady Judith as her own immediate family’s was.

Dan brought the carriage around to where his master stood in the yard. “Yes, My Lord.”

“Mind you stick to the mews as much as you can, and you’re not to mention this visit to anyone, is that understood, Dan? And we don’t need a footman. He could be recognized. Be sure to keep back under the hood as much as possible. Is that quite clear?”

“Yes My Lord. I understand. Very clear. No footman. Keep under the hood. Yes, My Lord.” Daniel nodded and opened the door of the carriage for his employer while shooing away the tall lad who ran from the stable, white powdered wig askew. Lord Robert waited a moment for Daniel to get up in the driver’s seat, and then he knocked on the wall of the vehicle.

Within minutes, he was swaying side to side and to and fro as the horse cantered down the uneven cobbled alleyways at the rear of the fine white stuccoed townhouses. He squeezed himself back against the rich leather upholstered seat of the coach praying he wouldn’t be detected by a passerby.

Dan stuck to the mews and back streets. Fifteen minutes later, he brought the coach up in the stable yard behind the Bennington residence.

“That will do it, Dan, thank you. Now off with you. Come to Brooks’s in one hour. After that, we’ll head for the country, straightaway.” Even though everything between he and Judith would be made right, it would still behove him to spend a few days at Hempstead Hall.

“Yes, My Lord.” Dan smiled.

Lord Robert turned on his heel and walked through the stable yard and around the house to the area. He kept his head down and descended the stairs to the servant’s entry and ducked in.

The staff were having their dinner in the hall. It was already three o’clock, and Lord Robert’s stomach growled reminding him he hadn’t eaten since the evening before. He’d spent most of the previous night drinking brandy and playing whist with his close friend, Lord Thomas Radcliffe.

He slid past the servants’ hall and the kitchen door and up the backstairs to the second floor. He knew Lady Judith would be in her private sitting room off the bedchamber. If he was correct, she would be taking her dinner there now.

He moved with a furtive walk down the corridor towards the door he knew Lady Judith was behind. He knocked, his knuckles barely touching the oak that separated him from her.

Hearing nothing from inside, Lord Robert twisted the door handle and pushed the door open slightly.

“Is that you, Jules?” He caught his breath at the sound of her voice. The voice he hadn’t heard in three long years. He brushed aside the inkling that the voice sounded somehow … different. Without speaking, he slipped into the room, closing the door behind him.

Lady Judith turned towards him, startled. “What are you doing? How did you get in here?”

He crossed the room in three bounds to kneel beside the chair she sat on. “I might ask you a similar question, My Lady.” He reached up to touch her cheek. She recoiled as if stung. As if he were a stranger.

“Judith. Why? What has happened? I have it from my brother you’ve been spreading rumours about me. I know it can’t be true. It’s entirely out of character for you to behave in such a manner. I came here to get the truth from you.”

“Rumours?” She looked directly at him. For a split second, she appeared as someone else. Her features had hardened during her travels, no doubt the result of losing her mother on the journey. Her hair was somewhat darker, or was it? He decided she’d changed the style. “Surely I don’t know what you speak of,” she snarled at him.

“My brother told me, actually berated me, when he delivered the news that you had said I reneged on a promise. Do you know what I’m speaking of now?”

She gazed out the window, her eyes darting here and there. “I, I don’t want to talk about it.”

“But, darling, it’s me. Robert. Why do you treat me so coldly?” He reached for her again, and she made herself small against the back of the upholstered chair she reclined in.

He pulled back. “I see. So you’ve changed your mind about me? About us? You no longer wish to marry me?”

“Oh, please don’t be difficult, Robert. I shall have to call Jules. This is a most complicated situation. Surely you must understand that I, well, I want to move up. So to speak. Within the ton. Can you blame me? My parents are dead. I have no one. My very survival is at stake. I cannot live alone forever. I want to be married. I want to have children. But I also want security. The kind that comes from having a firm foothold on the higher rungs of society. You must understand that. Once an heir is located for my father’s estate, what’s to become of me?”

Lord Robert stood and walked over to the marble fireplace. “What’s to become of you?” He smoothed the front of his jacket. “I offered you marriage three years ago. I offered you love and a comfortable life. Security, as you so poetically describe it. You denied me but asked me to wait for you. You wanted to see foreign places and still have me. And I was willing to give you that. I waited for you, as you asked me to. All this time, I’ve waited. Yet you told Lord James and others that I forsook you when you came back.” He fingered the items on the mantel to avoid looking at her. “Your parents would have given their permission, God rest them, for you to marry me when you were seventeen. They would have allowed you to marry me even though I’m not Atwater’s heir. I had a future with my law practice. I’ve been quite successful.”

Lady Judith delicately stifled a yawn.

“My father is leaving me his small estate, Windhill, north of Hempstead Hall. I am not destitute, Judith. I can give you a good life. Why have you repeated a made up story that detracts from my good reputation? I don’t understand why you would want me to look like a cad, or worse. You loved me … once.”

“You don’t understand? Please, Robert. You’re the second son …”

“I’ve already told you about my inheritance. I am not a poor man.”

“Ahh, yes your lovely little estate in the country. But you’re still Lord Robert are you not? I am, presently, Lady Judith, and I’ve told you I want to move up in society. I want to be firmly enmeshed with the ton. Not skirting around the outside. And I will move up, Robert. I will marry for position. It’s perfectly acceptable. Why, our parents indulged in it, did they not?”

Robert’s head was spinning at the implications of her words. “You want to move up? … No, you cannot be planning what I think you’re planning. You want to gain the affection of an heir apparent? And it doesn’t matter who he is? You asked me to wait for you. Judith, do you hear me? You cannot.”

“I cannot what, dear Robert?” Her smile was vapid, showing no emotion. Her once extraordinary green eyes appeared dull and unfocused. Robert wondered if she’d taken laudanum. She was much unlike herself.

“Answer me. Is what Lord James told me the truth?” Lord Robert turned back to the fireplace. “Have you intentionally sullied my good name?”

“And what, pray tell, did the Marquess tell you?”

“Judith, listen to me.” Robert glanced over his shoulder at her, his fingers still moving the objects on the mantle to and fro. “If what my brother told me is true, if you’ve begun this sordid story about me … it will ruin me. My word will have no merit in anyone’s eyes. How could you have betrayed me this way? Why have you told everyone, lied to everyone, about me? Why did you say I left an agreement that was never made? You didn’t want to be tied to me. But you didn’t want to lose me, either. So I waited for you. You stopped writing to me and still, I remained faithful to you. I don’t understand why you wish to hurt me.”

Lady Judith sighed. “Dear Robert, I do not want to hurt you. However, I want to be a Marchioness. And then, I plan to be a Duchess. And, thankfully, I don’t have to look too far to do it. But, your dear brother would not even look at me if I were engaged to you.”

Lord Robert’s lungs deflated forcefully. “You’re going after my brother? Judith! If I had known how, how conniving you’ve become, I would never have come here today. I’m quite shocked.”

Lady Judith shrugged and said nothing. Robert turned from the mantel, and they stared at each other, both waiting for the other to look away. Robert broke the gaze, straightened up, and without another word, strode from the room.

He went out the way he’d come in. Through the area. Then he walked the short way down the mews to Brooks’s where the familiar games room beckoned. Instead, he went to the smoking room, spied a corner sofa, and headed for it.

A familiar voice came to his ear. “Well, if it isn’t the notorious Lord Robert Weston.”

Robert turned to find Lord Tom Radcliffe reclining in an overstuffed chair, cigar in hand.

“Tom, you’ve heard the news I take it?”

“Yes. Lady Judith made sure that everyone who’s anyone heard. Not to say I’m anyone, mind you, but I rub elbows with greatness.”

Lord Robert grinned. “Greatness? Really, My Lord?” He dropped down on the sofa and signalled to the barman. A tray bearing two brandies was soon balanced in front of them, and each took his glass.

“Now. What is really going on here, Robert? Your cousin was beside herself yesterday. That’s what I was told by my man this morning. He got it from one of the kitchen maids.”

“You don’t believe it, do you?” Robert interrupted.

“No, no. Of course I don’t believe it. Any of it. I know how you’ve pined for Judith these last two years, Robert. And then to find out she’s back, and then this lie. Do you think she’s gone insane?”

“Honestly, I don’t know what to think.”

“Have you seen her?” Lord Thomas examined the candlelight through his brandy.

“I have. She said she wants to be a Marchioness. After that, her plan is to be a Duchess. As she put it, she doesn’t have to look far to achieve her desires.”

Tom’s face fell. “You don’t think she’s decided to go after anyone in your immediate circle, do you?”

“She most certainly has. She’s decided to seduce my brother. It’s as if she’s meticulously planned an elaborate charade. She acted as if she barely knew me, Tom.”

“Robert, I didn’t know it’s as bad as that.”

“It is. It’s every bit as bad as that.”

Tom sighed. “Oh dear. Everyone believes Lady Judith, it’s true. The ton has nothing but sympathy for her. She lost her mother while travelling and then returns only to be discarded by her betrothed? It’s rather brilliant if you’ll forgive my saying. If you think she planned it, she did a wonderful job. My question is why. Why come up with a story like that to achieve the plan?”

“I wish I knew the answer, Tom. Maybe it’s the only way she could think of to break ties with me. If she’d only told me she wanted to be free from our love.” Robert shook his head. “As it is, Dan is probably out back waiting for me. I don’t want to be seen, of course. I knew I took a chance coming here, but I needed your perspective. Thank you, friend.”

“You never need thank me. And remember, My Lord, I’m a lawyer. I’ll do everything in my power to remind the gossip mongers they don’t know all the facts of the case. Your scandals cannot outdo our Regent’s. That would be treason, would it not?”

Lord Robert embraced his friend, patting him on the back, “Thank you, Tom.” He was gone from the room in the wink of an eye, out the back door of the club, and then across the mews in three long strides.

Dan was there ready to take Robert to Hempstead Hall. Robert gestured for him to stay on the bench, and then hopped into the carriage. He knocked on the ceiling, and they started off in the direction of the country manor.

At the last intersection before the bridge, Lord Robert leaned forward a little to better see the river. A lovely pink bonnet sporting a white plume caught his attention. Beneath the bonnet two large blue eyes, surrounded by wisps of corn silk curls, gazed at him placidly. The lovely lady waited to cross the cobbled road assisted by her manservant.

He was startled at her complete poise and quiet amidst the ruckus of the city. She smiled at him, and he slid back into the depths of the carriage, feeling a curious sensation in his chest.

“Falling for the Heartbroken Duke” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lord Robert Weston, living the life of a Duke’s second son, is thrown in among the elite of London’s bon ton, while he chafes against the conformities and gossip of the very rich. When his childhood sweetheart, Lady Judith Barton, reappears in town after three years, she has much more to say than hello.

He is thrilled to see her again, but his hopes are soon to be destroyed. When her vanity prevails, his affectionate heart is played and love promises are broken. Not only is he heartbroken, his reputation slips down towards a path where it’s very hard to return from. Will he be able to overcome all the hardships and take his life on his own hands?

Lady Phoebe Sinclair, having lost her dear mother, is back in London after two years in Paris. When tragedy strikes again, Lady Phoebe’s cousin from Scotland, comes to London to claim his inheritance. Amid glittering parties, ton gossip and mutual friends, Lord Robert and Lady Phoebe’s paths cross when Lord Robert’s father and brother both succumb to typhus.

She is instantly enchanted but she has already heard all the vile things that are being said on his account. She avoids contact with him in any possible way, but when she finally finds herself imprisoned in a marriage arrangement she never wanted, who is going to come to her rescue?

When social pressure to produce an heir comes down to Lord Robert’s head, will he be able to make the right decision and solve a seemingly unsolvable mystery? While true happiness finally seems like a dream come true, life or death challenges never cease to come up…

“Falling for the Heartbroken Duke” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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71 thoughts on “Falling for the Heartbroken Duke (Preview)”

    1. Dear Bridget
      It’s going to be another story I’ll be unable to put down. This excerpt is a cliff-hanger on a par with a mystery novel. Without overworking please publish it soon.

    2. This one looks intriguing! Love the introduction but am always Leary of people so easily led to believe the worse. Given the times and shallow thinking of the gossips I suppose it is a very likely scenario. Look forward to reading how it unfolds for the both Robert and the deceitful Lady Judith.
      Thank you for sharing what looks to be a good storyline.

    3. Hi Bridget, I love the story already! I want to continue reading it right now! I dislike Judith immensely, and I can’t wait for her to get her “just desserts”! Trust me, It will be a LONG WAIT for me until the book’s release! Thanks in advance for another GREAT READ I’m sure!

    4. Thank you for sharing the preview, you truly have another fabulous book coming out soon, can hardly wait.

    5. Hello Bridget you are an amazing writer and thanks for the chance to read a preview from your upcoming book. What I can say about the book is that I am very sure it will be another best seller, poor Lord Robert I do hope he will redeem his sullied reputation and I wished with all my head he will find a lady who will love him no matter what and that Lady Judith (she is no lady) gets what she deserve in the end. Thanks again I love this book so far.

    6. Sounds like Lady Judith has turned into a money hungry witch while traveling around.I can’t wait to read the book.

    7. What an intriguing storyline. Can Lady Judith’s deceit really bring her what she wants ? How many others will be hurt along the way.
      This is going to be another book I can’t put down.
      I look forward to reading the full story.

  1. I love it!, it is intriguing me who will be the lady waited to cross the cobbled road assisted by her manservant.
    I love your historical books.

  2. Oh my goodness,
    Poor Lord Robert😯
    Can we slap Judith silly..what a conniving bit of fluff!!😲😝😡
    …well, im certainly intrigued…Want to know what becomes of Robert and the ” mask” removed from Judith’s scheme..
    AND yes , I want to finish reading the rest of this story…

  3. You’ve got me, and a lot of others I suspect. Good writing, very interesting start, I look forward to reading the whole book. Excellent.

  4. I sure hope “Lady” Judith gets her comeuppance! Poor Robert, won’t Judith be surprised when Robert becomes the duke?! It’s a sad day when even your family won’t believe you 🙁

  5. Well, that was quite a start for a story! I’ve always been leery of society women because they can be pretty mean! It will be interesting to see how she gets her comeuppance.

  6. I’m hooked! Must read the book to see how poor Robert fairs. Of course, all of your books are a must read for me, and this looks like a good one once again!

  7. Looks like another enchanting story that I won’t be able to put down!

  8. So far, so great, looking forward to the release. So glad i happened upon your books.

  9. Love this introduction. Now I want the rest of the story. Can’t wait.

  10. Loved the preview. I am very upset at Lady Judith for how she treated Lord Robert. He deserves better than that.

  11. The ton, what gossipmongers. Lord robert has my sympathy already. The lovely lady crossing the is a nice tease. I already am anticipating a good read.

  12. Looks like another great Bridget Barton Book filled with intrigue, deceit, love and romance. Ms. Barton, I love your books! Looking forward to reading the rest of their, Lord Robert & Lady Phoebe’s, story. Hope Lady Judith reaps what she has sown.

  13. After reading the First chapter of “Falling for the Heartbroken Duke”, I am completely hooked. I can’t wait to read the rest of the story.

  14. I’m absolutely hooked and can’t wait for it to come out so I can finish reading! I can already tell this delicious tale is going to be one I can’t put down!

  15. Wish I could have gone on reading this book..Don’t like the sound of Judith. Very conniving lady. Storyline is very intriguing. Can’t wait to see what happens.

  16. This is a lovely opening chapter. Many conflicts and relationships are revealed. The argument between the brothers works well to show Robert’s cavalier attitude and that James is a prig. Their lack of affection comes out when the refer to each other by their titles. What a betrayal Robert must feel seeing how his brother automatically believed the tale about him. Sadly his own galavanting probably led to that, so I get that he cannot be totally appalled at his brother’s acusation. The only thing that pulled me out in the conversation was the use of contraction. It doe not fit the class and era. I have convinced myself it was for the contemporary audience. Another thing that I appreciated was the use of sensory detail. It begins with the stairs and the door thudding. The horses on the cobbles in the news and the color and tension of the brandy at the club we’re also moments that stood out. I will definitely buy the book.

  17. Loved it so far. I can’t wait for it to come out. I have several of your books and love them all.

  18. “Falling for the Heartbroken Duke” by Bridget Barton This is a good story..especially if you love lots and lots of twists and turns in your story. And, if you like long stories. I was gifted with a copy of this story. I enjoyed the book, but for me it was just a tad too long and thus the 3-star review.

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