When eighteen-year-old Eliza Cross agrees to visit her school friend, Lady Celia, at her home for thesummer, it’s immediately clear how out of place she is at Caerdon Abbey. Eliza, orphan and charity student, can’t help feeling different from the aristocracy who are living their lives in luxury. But when Celia’s brother, Alan, the handsome Duke of Caerdon, comes home from France, Eliza finds herself irresistibly attracted to him – especially after he disciplines her on the very first morning after they meet.

Alan knows Eliza isn’t someone his mother would consider marriage material but he can’t stop thinking about her, no matter how hard he tries. A whirlwind courtship leads to a secret wedding, but when Alan is suddenly called to diplomatic service, Eliza is left on her own to keep her secret until he returns. Can the Duke’s schoolgirl bride hide the truth? And can she bear the consequences if she does?

Publisher’s Note: A sweet Victorian love story with passionate scenes and stern, aristocratic discipline. If any of these subjects are not to your liking, please do not open the pages.




She did not answer him, and so they proceeded in silence down the country road together, while Arabella laid her ears back just a fraction at the tension between them. He was fierce and oblivious to everything except how strangely stubborn she was, and how beautiful, and how much he wanted her to let him behind those high walls of propriety, where she hid her true self like a half-wild thing. And so, he continued on, stalking very fast, for over a mile until they were through the village and on the road to the lower farms.

“Please,” Eliza gasped finally. “I’ve such a stitch in my side—if you will be so angry with me, please do go back home.”

At that, Alan stopped short and turned. A twinge of consternation struck him as he saw how flushed and out of breath she was, along with a stirring at how wisps of her hair had escaped from under her hat and glowed in the sunlight like a kind of coppery halo. And he said, quietly, breathing only a little quickly, “Please what?” He fixed his gaze on Eliza’s face, waiting for her reply. If she would make this smallest surrender to him, he would make it easy for her, be tender in his mastery—but mastery it would be, and Eliza must know it. She had asked to be punished, had clung to him and cried, and yet still he felt remote from her. In the two days since then, she had neither avoided him nor sought him out. Instead, her complete mask of friendly deference, so prettily calculated to his rank, hers, and the duchess’s respective estimation of them, had been absolute. Though he had twice seen her in passion and pleading—once in her initial fear when she was caught, and once when he’d punished her so soundly for her little misdeeds—since then, she had behaved as though they were strangers. No more.

Eliza understood him immediately, he could see it, and there was only the briefest of hesitations before she took a deep breath and said, “Please, Alan. Peace.” She held out her gloved hand to him, palm up, her eyes wide as she offered the surrender he sought. That, the understanding in her eyes and that sweet gesture of submission unforced, uncoaxed even, thrilled Alan down to the soles of his boots.

Alan took her hand in his and turned it over to kiss the back lightly. “Peace, Eliza,” he said softly. Then he released her hand, and they continued to walk as quietly as before, but a good deal more slowly. Having won this small victory, he was not inclined to press his attack on her inner defenses.

About the Author

Bryony Kildare was voted “Most Likely to Become a Cult Leader” in high school, and we may all be grateful that she has turned her talents for fantasy towards delight rather than world domination. Today she is the author of vibrant erotic romances featuring discipline and power exchange in loving relationships. She lives in the American Southwest and is the humble servant of two extraordinarily demanding gray cats.

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