Lord Theodore Harrow has watched three of his closest friends fall in love and suffer for it, but now they are content, and he is left on the outside. When an accident brings him face-to-face with the woman of his dreams, he hopes his single days will be over, without the drama.
Mrs. Valeria Wilson is not looking for another husband to replace the one she buried with great relief. Now, while trying to hide from her evil father-in-law and protect her young son, The last thing she needs is a peer of the realm pursuing her. When his friends get involved, life turns upside down for Valeria.
Can Valeria keep her heart safe and her secret preserved while taking advantage of some of the help these people have to offer her in her desperate straits? Fighting her ex-father-in-law puts them all in a direct battle with the Black Diamond himself— not only for their lives, but the future of Britain.
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The Duke of Diamonte, also known as the elusive Black Diamond, stewed as he paced the expensive Turkish carpet in his study. His staff had been wisely avoiding him since he’d returned to the estate.
He’d killed the wife and unborn child of Sir Michael Tidley, his by-blow from a liaison designed to ruin Tidley’s grandfather. Michael had proven a worthy adversary, but he’d have to deal with him at some other time. For now, his focus turned to his grandson, Dartanian. Since his only legitimate son, Damon, had died, the Duke had been stalking his daughter-in-law, Valeria. The emotional games he played with her were nothing compared to what he would do when he found her again.
Valeria had done well in covering her tracks. He grew frustrated with the fruitless efforts of his minions in searching for her and his grandson. When he found them, he had plans to torture her further. He’d never hurt the boy. At least not yet. Too many grand dreams were tied up in that lad whether or not his mother cooperated. He had no qualms about punishing Valeria. She had cost him precious time. She would pay dearly for her betrayal in leaving. He knew just how to draw her back into his lair.
“Bellen!” he called for his butler.
The weak-kneed man was slow in responding. “Yes, my lord?”
“Have my horse saddled and a bag packed. I depart for London within the hour.”
The man bowed and backed out of the room, shaking in fear.
The Duke stood and stared into the fire. “Soon, sweet Valeria. Soon you will wish you had never crossed me and rue the day I rescued you. I may have a use for you yet. A spare son is always an asset.” He clenched his teeth. She would never leave here again and once he had a second son to replace Damon, not even her precious Dartanian would be safe. Such was the fate of those who crossed him.
Once he found his grandson…he could move forward with his plans.
The perfectly matched black horses pranced down Rotten Row in Hyde Park. The sun shimmered on their muscular flanks as the high-steppers moved along pulling the open carriage.
“What do you think, Phillip?” Lord Theodore Harrow asked as he loosely held the reigns.
“They are a sight to behold, Theo, but why are you even considering buying this pair? You own enough horseflesh already. I realize you possess the money to spend, but as beautiful as these horses are, they appear high-strung to me.”
“I don’t have your dashing good looks, Phillip. If I want to attract a bride, I need to be noticed.”
Phillip shook his head and laughed. “Theo, all you need to do is show up at a dance and propose to any young debutante there. They would trip over themselves to get your ring on their finger.”
“All for a title and my money.”
“What’s wrong with that? It is the way many marriages in the ton are made.” Phillip’s eyebrows went up as he folded his arms. “It’s not worth them loving you for the horses in your stable.”
“You have all managed to make love matches. I want a woman who will love me. Me. Not my title or wealth. I want what you, Marcus, and Michael have.”
“Are you willing to go through what we went through to get there, Theo? I don’t regret anything when it comes to my dearest Beth. I would prefer to have done it without the kidnapping and attempted murder of both her, me, and our unborn child.”
Theo waved a hand at this friend. “You came out all right in the end.”
Phillip sighed, and Theo could sense his gaze on him. How could he get his friend to understand? His friends and their wives adored each other. For once Theo wanted a woman to gaze at him like Elizabeth looked at Phillip. Or Josie at Marcus. Or Katrina at Michael. He was left behind in the game of love. He wanted someone to love him for who he was inside. He decided to drop the conversation for the moment. He’d hoped Phillip would understand.
“What about God, Theo? Have you considered your relationship with Him?”
“Pardon?” Theo almost dropped the reins in surprise. “Why would you bring that up?”
“You want love. The basis of love that we all have with our wives is Jesus Christ. I realize that for Michael and me, it didn’t start out that way, but now I cannot imagine any way I could be happily married to anyone without having God as part of the equation.”
Theo clenched his teeth. “I don’t want to talk about religion on a beautiful morning like this.” The clip clop of the horses’ hooves kept time to the symphony of bird sounds from the trees around them.
His friend let the subject drop for now but it would probably be raised again. While Marcus never preached at him, Phillip and Michael had been exerting more pressure on him to explore Christ and a “relationship” with him. Absurd.
As if God would care to have a relationship with him. Most women weren’t interested except for his title and wealth and beyond that, he possessed little else to offer to God. He shook his head and focused on the beautiful horses pulling his new carriage.
The park was sparse this morning in the way of human traffic. There were a few governesses or nurses with their young charges, taking the air. The elite, fashionable crowd was still sleeping off the previous night’s excesses.
Theo yawned. He would go home and back to bed when he was done here. There were no other plans.
A horse jolted, and the reins were almost pulled out of Theo’s hands as the other one reared. With a jerk the carriage moved forward at greater speed.
“What?” Theo yelled, “Whoa!” He pulled back on the reins, but the horses plunged forward anyway.
“Get them under control, Theo.”
“What did you think I was doing? Waltzing with them?” Really, Phillip could be quite irritating at times. He would have asked Michael to join him today, but he was still in the country.
The horses careened off the road ...