Monday, February 03, 2020


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Diamonds In The Rough, Book 5
Regency Romance
Release Date: January 28, 2020

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From USA Today Bestselling Author, Sophie Barnes....
The Forgotten Duke 
Book 5 in the 
Diamonds In The Rough Regency Series

He never imagined he'd be the man he was born to be, or that one woman's faith in him would change his life forever…

When Carlton Guthrie, the Scoundrel of St. Giles, encounters a runaway bride, he offers to help her. Not out of kindness, but because she's the Earl of Hedgewick's daughter. Using Regina to exact his revenge on her father seems like the perfect plan. Until Carlton starts to fall for the innocent beauty.

Seeking refuge with a notorious crime lord, was never part of Regina's plan. But in her blind attempt to escape the fate her parents have planned for her, options are limited. What she doesn't expect, is to pull aside Carlton's facade, and to find a tormented man who makes her feel safe and cherished – a man she could easily love, if he'll let her.

Everything in Regina’s life had always gone according to plan. She’d been born on March fourteenth, exactly as the physician and midwife had predicted. Since then, her sole purpose had been to become an accomplished lady. She’d been educated in a manner befitting the daughter of a British peer. And so, it was not surprising that she could play the pianoforte, embroider monograms on handkerchiefs, converse in French, and dance as if floating on air.

Her life was as it should be, as it had been designed to be, and she had no illusions about the duty that would one day be required of her. As a female, she would have to make the best possible match. Love would not factor into this eventuality since her marriage would without doubt be one of convenience.

Her parents had spent the last eighteen years preparing her for this. And yet her father, Charles Berkly, Earl of Hedgewick, still managed to surprise her when he interrupted tea one afternoon to inform her that she and the Marquess of Stokes were to be married.

The very next day.

By special license.

Apprehensive and slightly dazed, Regina told herself that all would be well. Her father had made a magnificent match – one that would elevate not only her but her entire family. She trusted him to have her best interests at heart, so she did not think to protest the hasty union or to remind her father that she and Stokes had never met. Instead, she breathed a sigh of relief when he described the marquess as a handsome youth with a fondness for poetry and music. She imagined herself enjoying his company, of entertaining him in the evenings with music and song, and of giving him children as duty required. She convinced herself that in time, love would blossom between them and that they would be happy together.

But when Stokes arrived that same evening for an introductory dinner, and was shown into the parlor by Plath, the butler, Regina realized that everything she’d imagined was but an illusion. Instead, she was expected to walk into hell and live there.

The resolve required to maintain her composure as Stokes approached her, to drop into an elegant curtsey and not run screaming from the room, was extraordinarily difficult. Like sitting still while a swarm of bees tried to sting you. But she now understood why she’d never met the marquess before and why she had to marry him faster than she could blink. Most likely, her father hoped to complete the task before she realized she was marrying a child.

Even though it was rather difficult not to notice such a thing, considering Stokes’s appearance. He had the typical rounded features of a young adolescent with a lanky body to match. Regina supposed he could be fifteen, if she were lucky, but rather feared he might be much younger than that. His face was regrettably covered in pimples of varying sizes, though this was the least problematic aspect since he would likely be rid of those within a few years. Of greater concern was his difficult gait, which suited an aging old man much better. And when he extended his hand to Regina, the stiff rigidity forcing his fingers to curl at odd angles was more than she could bear.

With a gasp, she looked up, only to be met by pain in his eyes. The heartbeats thumping fast inside her slowed, easing a path toward sympathetic understanding. He did not want this marriage any more than she did.

So Regina smiled. Not because she was pleased on either of their behalves, but because it was what Stokes deserved. However difficult this situation was for her, surely it must be worse for him, not only because he was so much younger but because he probably thought she would spurn him.

“It is a pleasure to finally meet you, my lord,” she said as she placed her hand in his.

Behind him, his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Windham, looked on with a mixture of hopefulness and concern.

“The pleasure is entirely mine,” Stokes told her politely. He gave her hand a gentle pull and she let him create the appearance of helping her rise. “Perhaps the two of us can take a turn about the room together before we’re called in for dinner?”

“I’d like that,” Regina said. She deliberately avoided looking over at her brother Marcus, whose glower she could feel as acutely as the heat emanating from the fireplace. He would undoubtedly have some choice words with their parents later, but for now, Regina believed the best policy would be to make the most of an already difficult situation.

So she placed her hand lightly on the arm Stokes offered and forced her steps to match his as they moved toward the far end of the room.

They reached the bay window looking out on the dusky garden and drew to a halt. Giving her a sideways glance, Stokes spoke in a low whisper. “I am sorry about all of this. When my parents told me of their intention to see me wed, I did my best to dissuade them. But Papa is determined to secure the lineage of his title and with the undeniable progression of my illness, he sees Hedgewick’s offer as the only hope of doing so.”

His comment caused numerous issues to poke and prod at Regina’s mind, like how her father had apparently started all of this by approaching Windham. And the idea that she would have to lie with him tomorrow after the wedding.

Forcing all her aversions to this aside, she chose to get to know this boy whose life must be unbearably difficult, and asked, “Do the physicians know what it is that ails you?”

He inhaled deeply, as if this subject required additional strength. “They say it is primary asthenic gout.” He looked at her directly. “Incurable, by all accounts.”

“I am sorry.” It was all she could think to say even though she knew it was not enough.

“Apparently, it is rare in children, which makes me special according to some physicians.” He gave a low snort. “I must say I’ve never felt so myself.”

Regina winced. The physicians were idiots if they believed that Stokes would find comfort in such a notion. “How long have you suffered like this?”

“The symptoms began five years ago and have been progressing since.”

Hoping he wouldn’t detect the pity she felt for him, she casually asked, “And how old are you now, if you do not mind my asking.”

“Fourteen.” The edge of his mouth lifted and for a second she caught a glimpse of the fun-loving boy he might have been if he’d been granted good health. “It is the age of consent for a boy, provided his parents approve.”

Regina nodded. The duke and duchess were hoping to marry him off as expediently as possible before he got worse and lost his chance completely.

Determined to put a positive spin on the situation, Regina said, “You’re probably the most eligible bachelor I’ve ever met. A pity you’re going to be squandered on an old woman like me.”

He grinned with what appeared to be genuine amusement. “I doubt there’s a woman in all of England as beautiful as you.”

She nudged him slightly while giving him a sly smile. “Top points for charm and for not inquiring about my age.”

Affecting a debonair look, he said, “No proper gentleman would ever think to do so.”

“I am eighteen,” Regina confessed with a chuckle.

“And entirely wasted on me.”

Regret flickered in his eyes and Regina’s heart squeezed painfully in response. “Don’t say that. You and I—”

“Have no hope of happiness.” His blunt statement, as obviously simple as it was, jarred Regina’s soul.

“Don’t say that,” she whispered.

“Why not?” He gave her a quizzical look. “It is the truth, when you think of it.” When she said nothing in response to this, he added, “My illness will not kill me for at least a couple of decades.”

With a gulp, she met his gaze head on. “I should hope not.”

“You say that now, but as I deteriorate with time, you will regret being my wife, just as much as I will regret ruining your life.”

Regina stared at him and as she did so, it occurred to her that she had to find a way to save them both. Perhaps they could have the marriage annulled immediately after? It was an option, though not a very good one when she considered the vicar who would be conducting the ceremony. He ought not be able to do so unless she and Stokes gave their consent. And yet, it was becoming increasingly clear that they would be pronounced husband and wife no matter what they said or did. Their parents were powerful people. What chance did she and a child stand against their determined wills?

Fear started to drip through Regina like freezing rain. “I’ll find a way out of this,” she assured him.

He raised an eyebrow. “How?”

“I don’t know.” Short of running away…

Her nerves tightened in response to that thought. It went against the obligation instilled in her since childhood. It felt wrong and disobedient and…wonderfully freeing, all things considered.

Swallowing, she glanced sideways. Assembled on the sofa and in the armchairs were their family members, all watching with syrupy smiles painted on their faces.

Except for Marcus, who looked rather grim. His eyebrows were drawn together, one partially obscured by a dark blonde lock of hair. Jaw tight, he appeared to be holding a great deal of anger in check. If she were to flee, she would miss him the most, which was something she contemplated a great deal as the evening wore on.

When the time eventually came for Stokes and his parents to depart, he stepped close enough to Regina so he could whisper next to her ear, “Time is running out.” He leaned back and gave her the sort of sad smile that quickened her pulse with the knowledge that only she had the power to act.

Other Books in the Diamonds In The Rough Series:

A Most Unlikely Duke
Diamonds In The Rough, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Published: June 2017

He never thought he'd become a duke, or that the secrets of his past would cost him his greatest love...

Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortune lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help, and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…

After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelop them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.

The Duke of Her Desire
Diamonds In The Rough, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Published: December 2017

He was only supposed to keep an eye on his friend’s sister . . . now he’s about to lose his heart . . .

When Thomas Heathmore, Duke of Coventry, agrees to steer his friend’s inexperienced younger sister through society, he doesn’t expect the lady in question to be so infernally stubborn. Amelia Matthews seems to have little interest in balls or suitors at all. Instead, she intends to open a school, and against his better instincts, Thomas offers to help. Yet somewhere along the line, Amelia ceases to be a simple responsibility . . . and becomes an undeniable temptation.

Since her brother inherited a dukedom, Amelia’s prospects have transformed. But though she’s long been secretly infatuated with Thomas, she refuses to heed the arrogant aristocrat’s advice. If only it were as easy to ignore his heated touch. And as Amelia soon learns, the ton is a minefield, where one moment’s indiscretion can unleash a scandal—or entice her to surrender everything to the duke of her desire . . .

The Illegitimate Duke
Diamonds In The Rough, Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Published: August 2018

United in a common cause…

Lady Juliette Matthews longs to be much more than just another pretty ornament in society. But using her recently acquired fortune to do some good is more complicated than she anticipated. Young ladies are not expected to risk their safety in helping the less fortunate. And the one gentleman who could help in her mission is stubborn, infernally handsome—and far too honorable to act on their mutual attraction.

And in a desire impossible to deny…

Florian Lowell has suddenly been made heir to the Duke of Redding—a far cry from his status as a dedicated physician. Yet even with his new role as the country’s most eligible bachelor, the beautiful, fearless Juliette is utterly beyond his reach. The scandalous circumstances of his birth would destroy both their reputations if they became known. But when a more urgent danger threatens Juliette’s life, Florian must gamble everything…including the heart only one woman can tame.

The Infamous Duchess
Diamonds In The Rough, Book 4
Publisher: Avon
Published: March 2019

A woman with a shocking past…

Branded a money-hungry con artist for marrying the elderly Duke of Tremaine days before his death, Viola Cartwright has found refuge in her work at St. Agatha’s Hospital. No one must know the painful reason behind her marriage. She steers clear of attachments—until Henry Lowell, heir to the Viscount Armswell, lands on her operating table after a duel. Charming and wickedly handsome, Lowell is one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels. Yet he may not be all that he appears.

And the man who can promise a future filled with love…

Posing as an unrepentant rake has helped Lowell avoid women pursuing him only for his title. But now that duty has finally called on him to marry, he finds himself entranced by the mysterious, independent-minded Viola. Then her late husband’s son returns from overseas, contesting Viola’s inheritance. Lowell longs to help her and sets out to convince Viola that a strategic union may be the best way to save all she holds dear. But can he also persuade her to take a chance on love…?

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Sophie Barnes, has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places around the world. Born in Denmark, she has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses. While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.

When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family. She currently lives on the East Coast.

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Judy Thomas said...

I love the covers of these books.

Sophie Barnes said...

Thank you for participating in the tour!

RABT said...

Thank you for hosting!

Jerry Marquardt said...

I like the blurb the most of all elements of The Forgotten Duke.