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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events
portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously.
how to dance with a duke
Copyright © 2012 by Manda Collins.
Excerpt from How to Romance a Rake copyright © 2012 by Manda
All rights reserved.
For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York,
Printed in the United States of America
St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / February 2012
St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth
Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
iss Cecily Hurston battered her ivory-tipped parasol
against the hulking footman who none too gently thrust her
through the doors of Number 13 Bruton Street.
“You cannot do this!” She elbowed him to emphasize her
point, and smiled in satisfaction at his grunt of pain. “My
father was a founding member of this club! I demand you let
me in at once!”
“He’s the one whot made the rule,” the beefy man said,
putting her down and fending off further attacks with one
arm as he backed inside and shut the door.
Cecily stood gaping at the closed door. “He . . . he . . .
“You heard me!” The shout was just audible through the
She tried again. “Surely in this par ticular situation you
would be willing to bend the rules a bit . . .”
But after a couple of minutes with no response, she
heaved an exasperated sigh, and gave the door one last aggravated kick. The heavy boots she’d worn for today’s visit protected her toes, but did little to protect her wounded pride.
She had hoped, considering the circumstances, that the
members of the Egyptian Explorer’s Club would waive their
ridiculous no-unmarried-females rule. After all, none of
them had considered that Lord Hurston would suffer an apoplexy on the return trip from his most recent expedition. She
was an unmarried lady, true, but she was also— despite her
father’s best efforts to discourage her scholarly pursuits—
one of the only people in England capable of translating his
idiosyncratic form of hieroglyphics, which he used for all
his travel writings in an effort to deter would-be thieves.
Without her help, the tale of her father’s final Egyptian tour
would be told, for the first time in his illustrious career, in
someone else’s words.
And then there were the rumors. She knew his notebooks
held the key to disproving the rumors surrounding her father
since his return to London.
Now she would be forced to go to the Duke of Winterson.
His brother, Mr. William Dalton, had served as Lord Hurston’s personal secretary on the journey and might have kept
his own records of the trip. Unfortunately, in another bit of
bad luck for the expedition, that gentleman had gone missing during the trip, and had not been seen or heard from
since. It would not be the same as her father’s account, but
Mr. Dalton’s notes would surely be more reliable than those
of any other man who had accompanied them to Alexandria. Still, the thought of using anything other than her father’s words was disheartening.
Defeated, Cecily took a calming breath and straightened
her hat, which had been knocked askew in the scuffle.
Smoothing her dark hair back from her brow, adjusting her
gloves, and yanking her pelisse firmly into place, she turned
to face down the front steps to the street below.
Unfortunately her ejection from the club had not gone
His exquisitely fitted attire and gleaming, silver-topped
walking stick marked the man gazing up at her as a gentleman. And he was handsome enough to give her pause.
Bright blue eyes surveyed her from a face that might well
have been stolen from a classical statue, aquiline nose and all.
While not normally one to have her head turned by a pretty
face—in her experience handsome men, like her cousin,
were a selfish breed— even Cecily felt her breath momentarily stop at the sheer elegance of the gentleman below.
H ow to Dance w ith a Duke
But when he raised his beaver hat to reveal a head full of
closely cropped dark curls, she had the uncanny sense that
he laughed at her.
“Are they not accepting visitors today?” he inquired
politely—as if he hadn’t watched Cecily’s forcible removal
from the establishment moments earlier.
On her guard, she tried to determine his intent. Was he
laughing? Or was he merely obtuse? Probably the latter, she
thought to herself. In her experience handsome gentlemen
were also lacking in common sense.
As if reading her thoughts, he raised a gloved hand. “I
assure you, madam, that my query is sincere. I thought perhaps your . . .” He cleared his throat, as if trying to determine what to call what had just occurred at the door behind
her. “Exit,” he settled upon, “was due to the club’s closure.”
“No,” she responded, making her way down the first few
steps leading to the street below. “They are closed only to me.”
She paused at the next to last step, and looked the gentleman
up and down, in a rude gesture that would have earned her a
boxed ear from her old governess, Miss Milton. “I feel quite
sure that someone of your . . .”
“Sophistication?” he suggested, making no move to ascend the stairs, and effectively blocking her descent.
She took one step down, bringing her to eye level with
the stranger. He did not look like the sort of man who would
have business with the club.
Perhaps reading her expression, his sharpened gaze was
replaced with a look of playful challenge. “Breeding? Looks?”
Tired of their game, and if truth be told a bit unnerved by
his attentions, she pushed past him into the street below.
“Sex,” she said, stalking away.
But, to her dismay, the gentleman followed her.
“I beg your pardon,” he said, shaking his head as if to
clear it. “I think I misheard you.”
The man was wits-to-let, however appealing his dimples
might be, Cecily decided. Pausing, she looked him squarely
in the eye and repeated, “I said that I feel quite sure some-
one of your sex should have no difficulty gaining entrance to
the Egyptian Explorer’s Club. Now, if you will please excuse
She continued on her way and was annoyed, but not surprised, to find him trotting along at her side, though a slight
limp in his left leg slowed him down a bit.
“Of course that’s what you meant,” her unwanted companion said. “I had not realized that the club was not open to
“Yes, technically, that is correct,” Cecily said tersely. “If
you would excuse me, sir . . .”
“Indeed, I am quite certain ladies are allowed into the
club because my sister-in-law has mentioned several times
that she has attended lectures here.”
His conversational tone indicated that he had no intention
of leaving her to go on about her business. With a sigh of
surrender, she kept walking. By the time she reached her
waiting carriage, she decided, he would likely have given up
and left her side.
“Then your sister-in-law must be married to a member,”
she replied, deciding to keep her tone brisk to discourage
“That is true,” he said companionably. “My brother was a
member so that probably explains it.”
When they had walked several hundred feet in silence,
however, Cecily could stand it no more.
“Sir,” she said, stopping, “I do not know who you are, but
as you can see I am in a bit of a hurry, and as we have not
been properly introduced it is highly irregular for you to escort me down Bruton Street.”
She did not add that if she were to return to her carriage
with a strange gentleman accompanying her, she had little
doubt that her maid would carry the tale back to her stepmama. A circumstance she desperately wished to avoid.
“You disappoint me,” the gentleman said, shaking his
head. “Surely the Amazon who kicked both the footman
and the door of the Egyptian Explorer’s Club is not concerned with a matter as conventional as the proprieties.”
H ow to Dance w ith a Duke
“Yes, well, the Amazon was overcome by pique outside the
Egyptian Explorer’s Club,” she said tartly, resuming her brisk
pace. She did not add that it was all very well for a man to ignore the proprieties. He did not have to rely on the goodwill of
a distant cousin and a stepmama to keep a roof over his head.
“Your irritation was understandable,” her escort responded.
“But you are not overcome by annoyance now, and yet if
I were not here, you would be walking unescorted down
Bruton Street for all the scandalmongers of London to see.
So you are hardly a reliable source for what does and does
not constitute proper behavior.”
Cecily opened her mouth to object, but he interrupted
before she could speak.
“However, if you are so concerned about our lack of proper
introduction, then let us by all means dispense with that
He halted, and out of habit Cecily stopped as well. He
made her an elegant bow and Cecily dropped into a curtsy.
Which felt exceedingly foolish in the middle of Bruton
Street, but then this entire day had devolved into a series of
foolish vignettes, one more insane than the last.
“Winterson, at your service, madam,” he said curtly, as if
he did not like revealing his name to her.
She looked up abruptly.
“Winterson?” she asked. “The Duke of Winterson? Why
on earth didn’t you say so before?”
Lucas should have known better. The first lady he’d encountered since his return to London with more than a passing
acquaintance with her own brain, and she turned out to be
just like every other woman he’d met since coming into the
It shouldn’t have mattered so much, but it did. As Major
Lucas Dalton he had certainly never hurt for female
company—though he acknowledged that the scarlet uniform did its part—but once his uncle and cousin had died,
leaving him to assume the title, he had found himself the
object of an unseemly amount of female attention.
Discovering that his fiery Amazon was just another avaricious harpy was a disappointment, but hardly surprising given
his recent interactions with the fairer sex. A different sort of
man might have embraced his sudden popularity with enthusiasm, but Lucas had never aspired to more than the life of a
military officer. Though there were some parallels between
serving as an officer and serving as a peer of the realm, the
differences at moments like these were as vast as an ocean.
“Indeed, I am Winterson.” He cast one last look at her
shapely form, and mink-colored curls, and suiting his actions
to his words, turned to walk away. “Now, if you will excuse
me, I have just remembered a pressing appointment with—”
A firm hand on his upper arm stayed him. He cast a
speaking look, one even his raw recruits would recognize, at
the place where her fingers gripped his coat.
Flustered, as he had intended, she let go of him at once.
“Please, Your Grace, I beg your pardon. But do not go. I
have been looking forward to making your acquaintance for
I’ll just bet you have, darling.
Aloud, he said, “Yes, well, I am in a bit of a hurry, miss.”
And without waiting to hear what she said, he stalked back
the way they had come, aware that his limp was more pronounced when he hurried, but not really giving a hang.
“But wait.” She followed after him. “Your Grace, pray do
not run away—”
He halted abruptly, and dammit if she did not grip his
“I am not running away,” he said between clenched teeth.
“As I told you a moment ago, I have a previously forgotten
appointment. And stop gripping me by the arm!”
“If you are not running away, then why will you not stop
a moment and allow me to introduce myself?” she snapped,
her cheeks flushing and her bosom heaving in a show of
temper that was, if truth were told, quite becoming.
Perhaps her reasons for ignoring the proprieties were less
H ow to Dance w ith a Duke
about ignoring convention and more about where she stood
on the social ladder. He took a moment to examine her attire, and noting her plain hat and the drab color of her gown,
he decided that she might be an impoverished widow. His
mood brightened considerably at the thought. An unmarried
miss might want him for his title, but a widow might be
willing to accept a less permanent arrangement.
Another few minutes to hear the lady out would hurt no
one, he thought.
At his continued silence, however, the lady lost patience.
Throwing up her hands in disgust, she began to walk away.
“I had thought perhaps you and I were after the same
thing, but at this point it doesn’t matter. You may have your
arm back, Your Grace. I will importune you no longer.”
Ah. So he was right. She had been importuning him. But
not for marriage—that was the important thing.
Now he was the one rushing after her, and even with his
injury, his stride was so much longer than hers that he was
able to overtake her quite easily.
“I beg your pardon for my boorish behavior, Miss . . . or
Mrs. . . . ?” His voice rose with the question as he mentally
crossed his fingers that she would fall into the latter group.
Stopping, she once more dropped into a curtsy, and extended her hand to him. “Miss Cecily Hurston.”
Lucas closed his eyes. When he opened them, she was
“Of course you are,” he said wearily. “The daughter of
Viscount Hurston, no doubt?” He had been trying to arrange
a meeting with that gentleman for weeks now. The family
claimed the viscount had lost the power of speech, but Lucas
wouldn’t believe it until he saw the man for himself.
“Indeed,” she returned. “Now you see why I was so eager
to stay you, Your Grace. We have much to discuss.”
Even as he considered using her to get to her father, he
dismissed the idea. She would have no influence over the
man. Look at the reception his friends at the Egyptian Club
had given her.
“I am afraid, Miss Hurston,” he said calmly, “you are mistaken. What could I possibly have to discuss with the daughter of the man who will not even grant me the courtesy of a
face-to-face meeting about the disappearance of my brother?”
His momentary flight of fancy over, for the first time in
his adult life, Lucas Dalton, Duke of Winterson, dismissed
common courtesy completely, turned on his heel, and walked
To his relief, Miss Cecily Hurston did not follow.
Cecily felt a dull ache in her temples as she returned to the
carriage bearing the insignia of the Viscount Hurston. She’d
asked the coachman to wait for her several blocks away
from the Egyptian Club, and after the duke’s abrupt dismissal in Bruton Street she’d almost given in to the childish
urge to run in order to get there. Letting the driver hand her
into the carriage, she settled in and leaned her head back
against the heavy cushion.
Though she had spent the majority of their encounter attempting to be rid of him, once she knew that her handsome
interloper was the Duke of Winterson, Cecily had hoped the
man might wish to discuss the circumstances of his brother’s
disappearance from her father’s latest expedition to Egypt.
Not only had her father taken ill on the voyage back, the rumormongers of the ton had begun circulating a rumor that he
was responsible for William Dalton’s death. That he had
become crazed as a result of some nonsensical curse that
plagued those who tampered with the ancient dead.
The curse, Cecily knew, was merely a figment of the lurid
imaginings of an ignorant populace who failed to understand
the customs of any culture but their own. But the allegations
that Lord Hurston had killed Will Dalton were unconscionable
given that her father was unable to defend himself.
Though she had hoped the Egyptian Club would help her
prove that her father had no hand in Will Dalton’s disap-
H ow to Dance w ith a Duke
pearance, its members had been strangely distant since her
father’s return. Not a single member had visited her father
since news of his illness had spread through town. Thinking
to ask for the club’s help directly, she and her stepmama, Violet, had called on Lord Fortenbury, the president now that her
father was unable to perform his duties, but his welcome had
been lukewarm. When they beseeched him to speak out
against the rumors, Fortenbury had refused, saying he did not
wish to involve the club in scandal. Directly addressing the
rumors, he said, would merely give credence to them.
Never one to sit by and wait for things to happen, Cecily,
who already wanted her father’s journals to transcribe them,
suspected they also held clues that would clear her father’s
name. But to her consternation, they were nowhere to be found.
Not in his rooms and not in the library of Hurston House.
Which left two options: the Egyptian Club, and the bags of
his secretary, Will Dalton.
She and Violet and their other friends would do what
they could to stifle the gossip, but for real proof that her father was innocent of causing harm to his secretary, she
needed those journals. And to get the journals she needed to
get into the Egyptian Club.
Having the Duke of Winterson attach blame to her for
her father’s actions was hurtful, but having him accuse her
father of murder was worse. If she had not been so overset
by her ejection from the club, she might have been better
prepared to deal with his accusations. She was used to being
ridiculed for her bluestocking tendencies, which was a badge
she wore proudly since it implied she had more on her mind
than flounces and ruffles. But the whispers about her father
were still a new enough occurrence to sting. Outright accusations were rare, but, as this morning’s encounter had proven,
infinitely more cutting. Especially given her sometimes
tumultuous relationship with her father.
From her earliest years, Cecily had pestered her father to
teach her to read Latin and Greek as he did. But fearful that
she would become obsessed with the subject he blamed for
her mother’s death when Cecily was only a small child, Lord
Hurston had attempted to dissuade her from her intellectual
Though she had little recollection of the event herself,
Cecily knew that her mother had been quite a gifted scholar
in her own right when she’d been found dead on the moors
surrounding the Hurston country house. Speaking about the
incident had been discouraged, but from what Cecily gathered from the servants’ gossip, the first Lady Hurston had
been struggling with her own translation of Homer’s Odyssey at the time, and it was speculated that she had developed
a brain fever from the overstimulation.
The only reason she knew anything at all about Egyptology, or Latin and Greek for that matter, was thanks to her
godmother, Lady Entwhistle, who had been a great friend of
Cecily’s mother, and who had endowed the motherless girl
with a thirst for knowledge equal to her own. Now Cecily
was able to speak and read several languages with ease, and
in addition had a remarkable facility for unraveling codes
It was odd, she supposed, given the number of times Lord
Hurston had discouraged her interest in his travels, that she
even considered ensuring that his accounts of his final voyage were included as part of his legacy as a scholar. But for
all of their arguments and difficulties, Cecily loved the man.
Their relationship, aside from his feelings about her scholarly activities, was a strong one. And, intellectually at least,
she understood just why he did not want her to become involved in his work. His fears that her interests would turn
into the kind of obsession that had precipitated her mother’s
death were unfounded, but came from a place of love. And
there was something about seeing him now, a shrunken
shadow of his former self, which made her long for one last
conversation to set things right between them. Because there
was little hope of that, she would settle for ensuring that the
account of his final expedition was told, truthfully and in his
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