The Duke's TemptationBy: Addie Jo Ryleigh
I don’t know where to start. After years of dreaming of this moment, you’d think I’d be more prepared. There are so many who had a hand in helping me get here that I could probably fill a book recognizing them.
I’ll start with those who were forced to live with me and my craziness during this wonderful endeavor. I dedicated the book to my husband and children but the endless support and encouragement I’ve received deserves a second mention.
Babe, you’ve done so much for me and our tribe of monkeys that this success is as much yours as it is mine. Your endless sacrifices don’t go unnoticed and we love you for your strength and devotion. A simple thank you will never be enough.
My boys, you exasperate me. You focus me. You challenge me. Your insane wonderfulness fills my life to the point of bursting. Not a single day goes by that I don’t thank God for each of you. Thank you for allowing Writing Time to interrupt Mommy Time. Someday you’ll understand why Mom kept hoarding the computer. I love you and thank you.
Mom and Dad, thank you for always making me feel like I could do anything. You’ve supported me through every day of my life and shaped me into the person I am. Thank you.
My siblings, thank you for believing in my crazy plan to write a book. Who knew your sister could be so cool?
JMC, AKA Sparky, I’m not sure I can find the words to thank you fully. First, thanks for ALWAYS being there. Not just to bounce ideas off (and you know there have been PLENTY of those) but for just being a part of my life. I’m glad I decided to keep you around. *wink* Secondly, thank you for your relentless kick-my-butt-into-gear support. You were the first to read the words once I put them on paper and there is no one I’d trust more. Thank you more times than I can count.
Auntie Barb Block, I knew I could trust you to give it to me straight. I put the fate of my hair in your hands so I knew my book would be just as safe. You’ve always been one of the go-to people in my life. Thank you for your kind praise and support.
Jeannie Reyerson, thank you for your encouragement and being brave enough to read one of the very first drafts. I miss our talks at the fence.
Melissa Murphy, my very first critiquing partner ever, thank you for helping a newbie figure this all out.
My editor, Char Chaffin, thank you for your belief in me and my story. Thank you for helping me shape it into what it is and guiding me along the way.
Lastly, thank you Soul Mate Publishing and all its wonderful authors for being a dedicated and supportive group. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to land.
Gabriel St. James, the sixth Duke of Wesbrook, locked his gaze on the lady—if one could even call her that. Having never dealt with this particular kind of lady before, he was not acquainted with the proper protocol.
Truth be told, he shouldn’t be so taken aback by the situation. He was, after all, his father’s son, and therefore destined to live the same debauched life. It still burned that after years of struggling against it, in the end, he’d had no choice but to grudgingly accept his place within the family line of scoundrels. His father had made sure there was no alternative.
He narrowed his eyes on the vision before him. To have his debauchery presented in such a fashion was something else entirely. Something he wasn’t certain he could withstand. He couldn’t deny that he gambled more often than not, consumed his fair share of liquor, and was a rake of the first order, but there were some lines he refused to cross. He’d vowed to never fully become his father.
That obviously failed. Not even he could dispute the proof standing there. The very evidence that confirmed he was more like the previous duke than he thought.
As much as he desired it, he could no longer ignore her—all thirty-six inches of her. Despite his confusion, there was no doubt the pixie-faced, three-year-old standing before him was his daughter. His illegitimate daughter.
There, he’d done it. He finally found a word to describe her. Daughter.
Fury pumped through his veins and caused his hand to tighten on the all-too-brief letter that had arrived with her. How the hell could he not have known he’d fathered a child three years ago? Denial might have been his gut reaction but in actuality there wasn’t a need for him to validate the information. He knew it was true. Her features might be feminine, but almost every scrap of her proclaimed she was a Wesbrook. From her wavy ebony hair that gave a hint of unruliness, to the way she raised her tiny chin under his scrutiny.