She would rather burn in his presence than pine in his absence…
Faith Wellingford Evers, Duchess of Ashedon, is tired of society’s endless gossiping about her failings and her late husband’s infidelities. Seeking escape one night, she’s attacked by ruffians, but is saved by an unlikely figure from her past!
Having risen from penniless orphan to Member of Parliament, David Tanner Smith is no longer the quiet boy Faith once knew. With the first spine-tingling kiss, their old friendship is transformed. And in its place is an explosive mix of illicit encounters and forbidden desire…
This second book in Julia Justiss’ Hadley’s Hellions series is easily read as a standalone, although characters from the previous book – Forbidden Nights with the Viscount – do have parts to play in this one. Stolen Encounters with the Duchess is a very readable cross-class romance which plays out against the solidly crafted backdrop of the work of a group of political reformers in which our hero, David Tanner Smith is one of the key players.
Readers of one of the author’s previous books, From Waif to Gentleman’s Wife, may recall that a lad called Davie Smith was instrumental in rescuing the heroine and thereby earned the gratitude of the hero, Sir Edward Greaves. Davie was sponsored by Ned at Oxford, then worked as his secretary before realising his political ambitions and becoming MP for Hazelwick. He is now a hard-working, respected member of parliament and is particularly dedicated to the cause of political and social reform.
Years earlier, when Davie was working for Ned, he encountered sixteen year-old Faith Wallingford, whose brother, the Marquess of Englemere, was one of Ned’s closest friends. In spite of the huge difference in their stations, Faith and Davie became fast friends, frequently enjoying discussions about anything and everything, from art, to music to books and, of course, politics. But theirs was not a friendship that could last, and they haven’t seen each other for more than a decade.
While Davie has spent the last ten years living a fulfilling and interesting life doing something he loves, Faith’s life has been the opposite. She fell in love with the handsome, charming Duke of Ashedon, married him and gave him three sons, only to discover that his frequent and indiscreet infidelities had made her a laughing stock among the ton. Not only that, he had insidiously made sure that all ties with her family and friends were cut, leaving her completely dependent on him for everything. It’s only now, in the months since his death, that Faith has discovered how isolated she is; cut off from everyone she used to know and even prevented from spending much time with her sons, she is a very different young woman to the vibrant and quick-witted girl that Davie Smith fell for all those years ago.