Excerpt from Emily Greenwood’s Novella “Kiss Me, Your Grace”


Just two more days until the Regency anthology Dukes in Disguise is released! Grace, Emily, and I had a grand time creating this anthology. We hope our readers garner as much fun reading the stories as we had writing them. 

Here’s an excerpt from Emily Greenwood‘s novella “Kiss Me, Your Grace” to whet your appetite.

Here’s the blurb:
Rowan, Duke of Starlingham, thinks love is for fools, though when he arrives at his hunting box to find an alluring but puzzlingly uncooperative woman pretending to be his cousin, he realizes he may be a victim of the most absurd malady of all: love at first sight.

Let’s dive in!


Chapter One

“Louisa, I do not need any wine,” Claire Beckett said to her friend Louisa Firth as they sat before a cozy fire. It was late in the evening, and the hearth around which they were relaxing was in the handsome, cozy sitting room at Foxtail, the Duke of Starlingham’s hunting box.

About once an hour since arriving three days before, Claire had reflected on the outrageousness of her being at the lodge. Louisa, whose position as Foxtail’s housekeeper would be in danger should it ever become known that she’d invited Claire to stay, had dismissed Claire’s worries, insisting that no one would ever know since they were as good as alone there. But Claire couldn’t help being concerned.

“Everyone needs wine sometimes,” Louisa said. “Even Grainger.”

“Grainger, like you, is an employee here, and his needs are being provided for by the Duke of Starlingham. I have no business being here at all, so I must in all conscience pay for anything I use here on my illicit holiday. Wine would not be a sensible use of my limited funds.”

Claire had had quite a bit more money when she’d set out on her journey, but that was before she decided that she urgently needed to see Louisa.

Louisa, whose handsome features looked eminently respectable in her housekeeper’s attire of plain dark frock and white cap, grinned cheekily and poured wine in a glass, then pushed it toward Claire. “Grainger and I, being the only staff living in, are allowed two glasses of wine on Sunday, and I only want one, so you must have my second glass.”

“It’ll be wasted on me– I never drink more than a sip or two.”

“That’s because your father has ridiculous notions about women being frail and foolish that he imposes on you.”

It was true that Mr. Beckett always said that ladies should never drink more than a thimbleful of wine, lest they risk looking coarse. But Claire knew her father meant well. Or at least, that was what she’d always told herself until a few days ago.

Louisa nudged the glass closer. “Go on. It’s really good wine.”

Oh, why not, Claire thought. A glass of wine was nothing to telling lies and pretending to be what she was not. Claire took the wine and sipped. It was delicious, and she relaxed back against the high, upholstered sides of her chair in a comfortably unladylike slump.

The room was decorated in manly shades of chocolate and midnight, with the obligatory stags’ heads mounted on the walls, though happily as far as Claire was concerned, only three. As the sitting room fire crackled merrily, its light danced amid the mischief in Louisa’s eyes. Though she was unfailingly hardworking and practical, Louisa was also prone to outrageousness. As the daughter of Claire’s father’s estate manager, Louisa had always been able to get away with more than Claire, the daughter of a gentleman. They’d been friends since girlhood, despite the difference in their stations.

“Imagine if your father could see you here,” Louisa said.

Claire groaned. “I’m trying not to think of him, or my mother, or any of my brothers discovering me here. Any moment now, one of the locals is surely going to realize I’m not the Duke of Starlingham’s second cousin and expose me.”

“Nonsense,” Louisa said, leaning forward to select a biscuit from the plate she’d put on the small table between them. “No one around here has seen the man–or a single person from his family– for a good dozen years or more. The duke’s man of affairs is the only person who ever comes here, and he only comes once a year to check on the place. Besides, the neighbors all think it’s wonderful that the duke’s cousin has come to stay.”

“I never would have dreamed that one day I’d be a fraud,” Claire said morosely.

“Have a biscuit,” Louisa urged. “I hear almond biscuits are the very thing to relieve feelings of being a fraud.”

“You are the most outrageous friend,” Claire said, but she took two.

“I simply believe in the value of indulgence in times of uncertainty. From the slim look of you, I expect you’ve hardly enjoyed yourself at all in recent times.”

Maybe, Claire thought, and felt instantly disloyal toward her family. But the biscuits were good, and she sipped her wine, which helped her mind less that she was disloyal and a fraud.

“But what if someone does find out?”

“Phoo,” Louisa scoffed. “You’re a gentleman’s daughter and just the sort of young lady who belongs at Foxtail, and I’d wager, if the old duke ever deigned to grace us with his presence, he’d agree.”

“The poor old duke, who has no idea that a wicked woman is taking advantage of his hospitality in his very own hunting box.”

“Stop worrying about the duke! The man has so many estates he can’t even be bothered to visit them all. You spend too much time being concerned about other people, Claire. Honestly, I don’t know what’s happened to you in recent years–- you’ve become so horribly nice. Do you realize that ‘I’m sorry’ was the first thing you said to me when you arrived the other night?”

Claire only just managed to stop herself from apologizing for that.

“And clearly you’ve become accustomed to doing more than your fair share of tasks — I’m certain you were going to volunteer to wash the dishes for Sally this morning!”

“She’s so busy, and surely my coming here has made more work for her.”

“She’s paid–and quite a bit more than she would make anywhere else in the county—to wash dishes here. You’re not supposed to do her work for her.”

“I’m sorry.”

Louisa glared at her meaningfully, and Claire dropped her head into her hands and moaned. “You’re right. I’ve just become so used to being accommodating. I hate disappointing people or making them angry.”

“In the name of all that’s sensible, Claire, you can’t go through life making everybody else’s wishes your command.” Louisa shook her head with affectionate exasperation. “Coming here was the best thing you could have done for yourself.”

Maybe that was true, even if Claire did still feel guilty about the deception she’d perpetrated on her family and the deception she was currently perpetrating at Foxtail. She had become so used to doing whatever it took to forestall one of her father’s tirades that she’d hardly noticed when she’d begun to push her own needs and opinions aside. Until four days before, when her father had told her what her future was going to be, and something in her had snapped. She’d done the only thing she could think to do: escape.


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Emily Greenwood has a degree in French and worked for a number of years as a writer, crafting newsletters and fundraising brochures. But she far prefers writing playful love stories set in Regency England, and she thinks romance is the chocolate of literature.

Find Emily: Website | Facebook | Twitter




Read her latest release How to Handle a Scandal!



Excerpt from Grace Burrowes’ novella His Grace of Lesser Puddlebury

Regency anthology Dukes in Disguise is available March 15th 11th!

dukes_in_disguise_blogGrace Burrowes, Emily Greenwood, and Susanna Ives (me) team up to bring you three Regency novellas, each featuring a young, wealthy duke who must spend two weeks masquerading as a commoner in the bucolic backwater of Lesser Puddlebury. Disaster will rain down if their graces’ titled status become public knowledge. Fortunately for our heroes, true love is no respecter of rank.

“His Grace of Lesser Puddlebury” by Grace Burrowes
Connor, Duke of Mowne, has been injured in a most delicate location, and needs a place to heal far from the eyes of Polite Society. When he takes refuge with the independent and impecunious Julianna St. Bellan, he suspects his wound was in truth caused by Cupid’s arrow!
Read an excerpt from His Grace of Lesser Puddlebury below.


“Duchess of Light” by Susanna Ives
In a tangle of lies and disguises, a brokenhearted duke and a desperate miss find truth in love.
Read an excerpt from Duchess of Light.

“Kiss Me, Your Grace” by Emily Greenwood
Rowan, Duke of Starlingham, thinks love is for fools, though when he arrives at his hunting box to find an alluring but puzzlingly uncooperative woman pretending to be his cousin, he realizes he may be a victim of the most absurd malady of all: love at first sight.
Read an excerpt from Kiss Me, Your Grace.


Excerpt from

“His Grace of Lesser Puddlebury”

Chapter One

Over the clip-clop of the coach horses’ hooves and the incessant throbbing of his arse, Coinneach Callum Amadour Ives St. Bellan, ninth Duke of Mowne, endured that form of affection which—among grown men at least—traveled under the sobriquet of teasing.

More honest company would call it making sport of a fellow in a misguided attempt to cheer him up.

“Mowed down, they’ll say, like so much wheat,” Starlingham quipped. “One stray bullet and the great duke is hors de combat.”

Lucere was not to be outdone. “The moon sets, as it were.”

They went off into whoops, endlessly entertained, as always, by a play on the title Mowne, which was an old Scottish term for the lunar satellite… and thus a cognate for a reference to the human fundament.

“If the Sun and Stars had not tarried with a pair of tavern maids, we would have reached the dueling ground sooner,” Con groused. “This whole imbroglio is your fault, you two.”

There was simply no getting comfortable in a coach after being shot in the arse. No getting comfortable anywhere.

“I would be spared my present indignity,” Con went on, “but for the flirtatious excesses of my oldest and dearest friends. Bear in mind, if the wound festers, the pair of you will be consoling my mother on the loss of her darling baby boy, and Freddy will become the next Duke of Mowne.”

Mention of Mama sobered the Duke of Starlingham and the Duke of Lucere faster than a ballroom full of unbetrothed debutantes in the last week of the Season. Faced with such a prospect, the Sun, Moon, and Stars, as Con and his friends were collectively known, would have closed ranks. They’d often stood figuratively shoulder to shoulder, defending their bachelor freedoms against all perils, most especially the artillery fire of the matchmakers.

In the present situation, Con and his friends would have to split up.

“Where did you say we were going?” Lucere asked.

“Outer Perdition,” Starlingham muttered. “We’re in Yorkshire. Nothing civilized goes on in Yorkshire, where the winters are long and the sheep are notoriously friendly.”

“Starlingham, you will take up residence at your hunting box,” Con said, assuming that handy dwelling yet stood. “Lucere, you and your manservant, should you refuse to part with that worthy, will have to bide at a local inn or boarding house. Send word to either me or Starlingham regarding your choice of accommodations. I can stay with my third cousin, Jules St. Bellan.”

Dear old cousin Jules was one of Mama’s many faithful correspondents, though the relationship was so attenuated as to be more nominal than biological. Nominal and fiscal, for Con had been sending a stipend north to Lesser Puddlebury for years.

“Maybe we’re doing this all a bit too brown,” Lucere said. “Your Uncle Leo might never get word of the duel.”

“Maybe you’re still cup-shot,” Starlingham countered, grabbing for the strap dangling above his head as the coach lumbered through a curve. “If Leo learns we’re taking a week’s repairing lease in Greater Goosepuddle, he’ll suspect Freddy got into another scrape, and then Mowne won’t be allowed so much as a spare farthing.”

Freddy, next in line for the Mowne ducal title, was always getting into scrapes, as were Quinton and Hector, and—not to be outdone by her older brothers—Antigone.

Uncle Leo had decided that Freddy must be taken in hand—by Con—or Con would lose control of the family finances, of which Leo was trustee.

“Which of you will marry Antigone if Leo cuts off my funds?” Con asked, for somebody would have to marry her if she was to be kept in reasonable style. Leo’s views of a wardrobe allowance were parsimonious on a good day.

Only two paths circumnavigated Leo’s threatened penny-pinching when it came to the family finances. The first was for Con to turn five-and-thirty, which fate would not befall him for another six years—assuming he could avoid further incidents of bloodshed. The second means of prying Leo’s fingers off the St. Bellan money pots was to marry. If the Deity were merciful, that duty lay at least a decade in the future.

Con shifted on his pillow. The laudanum was wearing off, and the dilemma caused by Freddy’s dueling loomed ever larger.

“Hearing no volunteers for the honor of marrying my darling sister,” Con said, “we must deceive Uncle Leo in hopes he never learns of Freddy’s latest mis-step. In the alternative, I could take a vow of poverty, which would lead perforce to the cheering vistas of unmitigated chastity and limitless sobriety.”

“It might not be so bad,” Lucere said, an odd comment for a man whom rumor suggested was facing an engagement to a German princess.

“Poverty, chastity, and sobriety?” Starlingham asked.

“No, spending a week in Lower Dingleberry. How many times have these people seen three dukes in the neighborhood at once?”

“They must never see three dukes in the neighborhood at once,” Con retorted. “I shall be Mr. Connor Amadour and swear my cousin to eternal secrecy. He’s a mercenary old soul, and his silence can be bought. You two will not trade on your ducal consequence whatsoever. Be wealthy, be charming, be handsome, but keep your titles to yourselves. The greatest commodity traded up and down the Great North Road is gossip, and three dukes dropping coin and consequence all over some rural bog would reach Leo’s notice by the next full moon, as it were.”

Three young, healthy, single dukes could do nothing without observation and comment by all of society. Freddy enjoyed a little more privacy, but Leo somehow learned of the boy’s every stupid wager and bungled prank nonetheless.

“So… we’re not to be dukes,” Lucere said.

“We’re not to have even a country manor for our accommodations,” Starlingham added.

“But if we can pull this off,” Con said, “I’ll retain control over my portion of the family money, which means nobody need marry Antigone, and I won’t have to call either of you out for landing me in this contretemps. All we’re missing are cold Scottish mornings spent tramping about the grouse moors.”

And the gorgeous scenery, and the fresh air, and a chance to get the stink and noise of London out of a man’s soul.

“Two weeks, then, but we’re also missing good Scottish whisky,” Lucere noted.

“And the Scottish lasses,” Starlingham said, saluting with an imaginary glass.

Con would miss both of those comforts, but in truth, his allowance also paid for Mama’s occasional gambling debt, Antigone’s excesses at the milliner’s, Hector’s charities, Quinton’s experiments, and Freddy’s scrapes.

Con financed it all out of his own allotment, a delicately balanced enterprise that Uncle Leo could easily upset. Leo never interfered with Con’s decisions affecting the ducal finances, but with the personal finances, only Con’s funds stood between his immediate family and utter mortification.

Though what could be more mortifying than getting shot in the arse?

“When you do see the Scottish lasses again,” Lucere said, “you’ll have a fetching scar.”

“Would you like one of your own?” Con drawled. “All you need do is attempt to interrupt Freddy’s next duel, for he’s sure to have another. Stand well clear of the opponents, but position yourself such that Freddy’s bullet bounces just so off a rock and grazes your ducal assets. Along with your fetching scar, you’ll enjoy a significant mess and no little discomfort. I was wearing my favorite riding breeches, for which Freddy will pay.”

“Hurts, does it?” Starlingham asked quietly.

These were Con’s friends. He dared not answer honestly, or they’d pound Freddy to flinders when the poor lad had been trying to delope.

“I did fancy those breeches. Their destruction pains me.” The truth, when Bond Street tailors could beggar a man in a single season.

Lucere passed Con a silver flask. “We’ll drink a toast then, to two weeks of happy ruralizing in Upper Lesser Middle Bog-dingle-shire.”

Con took a swallow of mellow comfort and passed the flask to Starlingham, who did likewise.

“To being a plain mister, and not Your Perishing Grace every moment of the infernal day,” Starlingham said, raising the flask.

Lucere accepted the silver vessel back and studied the unicorn embossed amid the laurel leaves on the side.

“Good-bye to the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and for the next two weeks, here’s to the dukes in disguise.” He tipped up the flask, then tipped it higher, shaking the last drops into his open mouth.

Con’s arse hurt, but to have such friends, well, that made a man’s heart ache a little too. He raised his arm, as they’d been doing since one of them had suffered an adolescent infatuation with the paintings of Jacques-Louis David.

His friends did likewise—the most inane rituals never died—and bumping fists, as one they chanted, “To the dukes in disguise!”


“This is not a tumbledown cottage,” Con muttered as the groom and coachman wrestled his trunks from the boot. “I could swear Her Grace said Cousin Jules resides in a tumbledown cottage, barely more than a shack.”

The dwelling was pretty, in a rural sort of way. Three stories of soft gray fieldstone topped with standing seam tin, the whole flanked with stately oaks and fronted with a wide, covered terrace the width of the house. Red and white roses vined from trellises up onto the terrace roof.

The place gave off a disconcerting air of bucolic welcome, such as a duke in demand by every London hostess ought not to find appealing.

“Will that be all, sir?” John Coachman asked with an exaggerated wink.

“Thank you, yes. I’ll expect to see you again in two weeks, and until then, I expect utmost discretion from you and the grooms. Ut. Most.”

John wasn’t prone to drunkenness, but his groom was young and new to a duke’s service.

“Right, Your Worship. Mind that injury, or Her—your mama will have me out on me arse.”

More winking, and then the coach creaked down the drive, kicking up a plume of dust as Starlingham’s gloved hand fluttered a farewell from the window. Nobody came forth from the cottage to carry in bags, greet the visitor, or otherwise acknowledge company.

“I’m not a stupid man,” Con said, gaze on the bright red front door.

But what did one do without a footman about to knock on the door, pass over a card, and ensure the civilities were observed? How did luggage find its way above stairs before the next rain shower? The knocker was the sort that never came down, but hung permanently by its fittings, so how did one tell if the family was receiving?

Mysteries upon puzzles. How would… Mr. Connor Amadour go on?

Insight struck as thunder rumbled off to the south. This was Yorkshire, and thunder rumbled about a good deal, even when the sun shone brightly.

Also five minutes before a downpour turned the shire to mud.

Con marched—unevenly, given the increasing pain of his wound—up the steps and rapped on the door.

Nothing happened. Why hadn’t Con asked John Coachman and the grooms to pile the luggage under the terrace roof? The roses grew in such profusion as to make the porch cozy. A wide swing hung near one end, a worn rug beneath it, embroidered pillows in each corner of the swing.

Con had recently become an ardent if silent admirer of the comfy pillow.

He banged the knocker again, rather louder than gentility allowed. Perhaps the help was hard of hearing. Perhaps they were all down in the kitchen, scrambling to tuck in their livery because it was half day. Even the legendarily hardworking denizens of Yorkshire would observe the custom of half day.

More thunder, more rapping. Life as Mr. Amadour looked decidedly unappealing. A wind began to tease at the surrounding oaks, while Con’s trunks sat several yards from the foot of the steps, apparently incapable of levitating into the house.

Mr. Amadour was a resourceful fellow, Con decided, and fit, despite his injuries. He fenced, he boxed, he rode great distances in the normal course. He gave a good account of himself on any cricket pitch and was a reputable oarsman.

Apparently, he had latent skills as a porter too, for it took Con a mere fifteen minutes to wrestle three trunks up the steps and pile them beside the door. Even wearing gloves, though, he acquired a scraped knuckle, a set of bruised fingers, and a squashed toe.

And he’d started the wound on his backside to throbbing. He couldn’t very well check to see if it was bleeding again, though he suspected it was. The surgeon had told him to apply pressure directly to the injury to stop any renewed bleeding.

Applying pressure to a bullet wound amounted to self-torture.

Con reconnoitered. He was a duke, a single, wealthy-on-paper, not-bad-looking duke—not that single, wealthy dukes could be bad-looking in the eyes of most. He’d bested matchmakers, debutantes, card sharps, and Uncle Leo. He’d learned the knack of looking pious while napping through a Sunday sermon.

Cousin Jules would come home, for Cousin Jules never traveled to speak of. He was too busy writing to Mama in an endless correspondence of gossip, gratitude for the last bank draft, and importuning for the next one. Perhaps Jules was on a constitutional out among  the lovely scenery.

Con determined that he would admire the scenery too, from the comfort of the pillowed swing at the end of the porch. All would remain cozy and dry on the porch despite the fickle weather, Cousin Jules would ramble home, and within the hour, Con would be tucked up before a fire, a glass of brandy in hand. He’d be a welcome, if unexpected, guest whose worst problem would be all the fussing and cooing from the help.

As it should be.



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Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania and is the sixth out of seven children. She discovered romance novels when in junior high (back when there was a such a thing), and has been reading them voraciously ever since. Grace has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a Bachelor of Music in Music History, (both from The Pennsylvania State University); a Master’s Degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University; and a Juris Doctor from The National Law Center at The George Washington University.

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