The Shy Duchess!

Happy Sunday, everyone! I am soooo excited to be launching my new book, The Shy Duchess, because it’s a return to the Welbourne Manor family. After working on The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor anthology with Diane and our friend Deb Marlowe (whose own Welbourne book, How to Marry a Rake, is out in May!), I felt like these characters had become my friends. I wanted to know what happened to them, if they were happy, if they were having more adventures. With The Shy Duchess, I got to do that! I had so much fun catching up with them all, and getting to know Lady Emily Carroll, who was a very special heroine to me after my own childhood battles with deep shyness…

“McCabe knows her time period, the mores and expectations of her characters…her stories have made her a fan favorite and she does not disappoint” –RT BookReviews

Our hero is Nicholas, the eldest (legitimate!) son of the rambunctious family, and now the Duke of Manning. The heavy responsibilities of being duke and taking care of his family have been weighing on Nicholas, making him take life much more seriously. He’s also burdened with a tragic secret in his past–a secret, youthful marriage that ended after less than a year when his beloved wife died in childbirth. He mourned her alone, not even telling his siblings what happened, and he’s determined never to hurt a woman like that again. Never to give her the “cursed” title of Duchess of Manning.

But of course he can’t quit thinking about our heroine, Lady Emily Carroll, can’t quit wanting to make the too-serious young lady smile. Even though she seems all wrong for him…

Emily was born with the gift of great beauty–and the curse of paralyzing shyness. She freezes whenever she tries to talk to a man, stumbles when she tries to dance, and ends up hiding in the corner at every ball. The only time she feels comfortable is when she is doing her secret charity work with “fallen women” trying to make new lives for themselves! Her silence has earned her the nickname The Ice Princess–and no offers of marriage. She knows her penurious parents are counting on her to marry well, but all she can do is long for Nicholas from afar.

Until a masked ball at Vauxhall reveals an explosive passion, which leads to a scandal and a forced betrothal, which leads to a Welbourne honeymoon–and Nicholas begins to thaw his ice princess’s heart as well as heal his own.

If they can get past a blackmailer, Nicholas’s protective family, and Emily’s mother’s terrifying pre-marital advice…

“Come sit by me for a moment, Emily dearest. I want to speak with you about something very important.”

Emily’s stomach clenched. Whenever her mother had that tone in her voice, Emily knew she wouldn’t like what she heard. “Oh, Mama, I am very tired, and tomorrow is such a busy day. Can it not wait?”

“No, it cannot,” her mother said sternly. “This is very important. Now, come sit by me on the bed and listen to me carefully.”

Emily went with her in silence, letting her mother hold onto her hand. Her fingers were very tight, pressing the heavy emerald engagement ring into Emily’s skin. “Now, my dear, a wife has many duties, especially a wife who is a duchess,” her mother said. “I have taught you to run a house properly, to dress fashionably and to remember to be charitable and kind. But there is one last, most important duty I must tell you about, as my mother did for me the night before my wedding.”

Emily very much feared she knew what was coming next. “Oh, no, Mama.”

“Yes.” Her mother’s lips pressed together grimly. “You will have your duty in the bedchamber. Now, Emily, I warn you it will not be pleasant. It will hurt, and be rather messy. You must lie back and do as your husband tells you, and it will soon be over.”

“Mama!” Emily groaned. “I don’t really need to know…”

“Let me finish. There are ways to make it easier. I used to close my eyes and plan a party.”

Emily stared at mother numbly. “A party?”

“Yes. I would choose the china and the silver, and design flower arrangements and guest lists. Then I would devise a menu and decide on my gown. By the time I knew what to serve for dessert, it was all over and I scarcely felt a thing! As a duchess, you could plan very elaborate parties indeed.”

Emily closed her eyes, trying not to shudder. She knew the rudiments of anatomy, of course; she often visited galleries full of classical nude statues. And she knew the basics of the marriage act, what went where and so forth. But… “Mama, what exactly happens that I must fear?”

“Oh, my dear, you needn’t fear! It is our natural duty and we must bear it. The duke will show you what to do, and I am sure he will not demand anything–extra of you.”

“Extra?” Emily choked out.

“Yes. You must not touch things, or move about too much. That just makes it last longer. You are his wife, not a hired mistress. All will be well, Emily dearest, and in the end you will have beautiful babies, as I did. That will make everything worthwhile.”

Emily was utterly stunned. Pain, and–and mess? It sounded utterly appalling. She could hardly reconcile it to the pleasure she felt when Nicholas kissed her. “Is that all, Mama?” It was surely quite enough…

Please visit my website for more excerpts, plus a Behind the Book glimpse at the history of Vauxhall Gardens! You can also see more about the book on eharlequin. I will be giving away an autographed copy of The Shy Duchess (so you can see for yourself what actually does happen on the wedding night!) to one commenter on today’s post.

And who else is excited to watch the Oscars tonight????

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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