It has come to this author’s attention that the frosty, ever-so-proper Duke of Faircliffe is in possession of stolen artwork!
This salacious detail has also come to the attention of London’s most scandalous family: the Wild Wynchesters. Rumor has it, the painting rightfully belongs to them!
One cannot begin to guess what acts of revenge the motley family of vigilantes might wreak upon His Grace, the Duke of Icy, Yet Maddeningly Sexy Hauteur.
Graham Wynchester has been spied climbing the Palace of Westminster. Elizabeth, purchasing a deadly new swordstick. Tommy, looking disreputable and rakish. Marjorie, with paint under her fingernails. Jacob, amassing an army of highly trained… ferrets?
And as for Miss Chloe Wynchester… er… where did that girl disappear to? She is perhaps the most underestimated of all the Wynchesters. The unassuming wallflower of the bunch and yet, I suspect, the one who poses the greatest danger to the Duke of the Finely Clenched Jaw and Smoldering Gaze…
About the Book: The Duke Heist
A secret identities, forbidden love, opposites attract romance from a New York Times bestselling author: Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?
Chloe Wynchester is completely forgettable—a curse that gives her the ability to blend into any crowd. When the only father she’s ever known makes a dying wish for his adopted family of orphans to recover a missing painting, she’s the first one her siblings turn to for stealing it back. No one expects that in doing so, she’ll also abduct a handsome duke.
Lawrence Gosling, the Duke of Faircliffe, is tortured by his father’s mistakes. To repair his estate’s ruined reputation, he must wed a highborn heiress. Yet when he finds himself in a carriage being driven hell-for-leather down the cobblestone streets of London by a beautiful woman who refuses to heed his commands, he fears his heart is hers. But how can he sacrifice his family’s legacy to follow true love?
“Erica Ridley is a delight!”
“Irresistible romance and a family of delightful scoundrels… I want to be a Wynchester!”
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An Excerpt from The Duke Heist
Chloe folded her hands in her lap and did her best not to glare a hole right through the handsome, haughty Duke of Faircliffe. His frigid blue gaze had looked right at her—and slid away just as quickly, having glimpsed nothing to attract his interest.
How many times had she and Faircliffe been in the same room? Eight? Ten? Every disdainful glance in her direction as indifferent as the last. She lifted her chin. Her father had taught her that to the right person, she would be visible and memorable. Faircliffe was clearly the wrong person.
Not that she wanted him to notice her, Chloe reminded herself. The continued success of “Jane Brown” hinged on her uncanny ability to be wholly unremarkable under any circumstances. She gripped the soft muslin of her skirt and took in all the other ladies in the parlor.
Mrs. York clapped her hands together. “And now… a celebratory tea!”
The duke’s face displayed a comical look of alarm. “I don’t think—”
“You must join us!” Mrs. York’s hands flapped like frightened birds. “The girls were about to have oatcakes and cucumber sandwiches before you arrived.”
“We were about to discuss epistolary structure in eighteenth-century French novels,” Philippa murmured.
“I never meant to interrupt,” Faircliffe said with haste. “I mustn’t stay, and in fact—”
“Nonsense! Come, come, all of you.” Mrs. York waved her arms about the room, driving her guests into the dining room like a shepherd herding sheep.
Chloe and Faircliffe were both caught in the flow.
Once they reached the door, however, Chloe stepped to one side. She could not take a seat at the table, or she would be stuck there for the next hour.
While everyone else was occupied, this was her chance to liberate the painting. But first, she needed an excuse to disappear. An adorable, furry reason.
She released Tiglet from the large wicker basket. The calico kitten darted between boots and beneath petticoats with a formidable rawr.
Mrs. York gave a dramatic shriek in response.
Tiglet scaled several curtains in search of an open window before darting out of the dining room and flying off down the corridor as though his tail were afire.
Chloe gasped, as if shocked that her homing kitten was attempting to dash home. “How embarrassing! I’ll run and find the naughty little scamp at once. Go on ahead. Please don’t wait for me.”
With her basket hanging from her arm, she ducked into the parlor and closed the door behind her. She hurried to lift the painting from the wall and carried it behind a chinoiserie folding screen in the corner. Up came the frame’s grips, off came the backing, out came Bean’s painting. She rolled it carefully and tucked it into the basket before stretching the forgery she’d brought over the wooden frame.
She ran to open the parlor door before anyone noticed it had been shut and hurried past the dining room to the front door without taking her leave from the guests. Would anyone notice she failed to return? Doubtful. If anything, the ladies would assume Jane Brown had slunk off in mortification.
Still, there was no time to waste. Any caper’s success depended upon a timely exit.
Keeping her head down, she headed down the front walk toward the first carriage in the queue. Only when she glimpsed the red curtains and a pair of leather gloves on the box did she lift her head toward the driver’s perch.
It was empty.
Her lungs caught. Where was Graham?
Distant shouts reached her ears, and her tight muscles relaxed. Something unexpected must have occurred, and her siblings’ distraction was underway.
This was her cue to flee.
Chloe pushed the basket inside, unhooked the carriage from its post, and leapt onto the coachman’s seat. Female drivers weren’t unheard of, but all the same, she was glad she never went outside without garbing herself in the plainest, dullest, dowdiest clothes in her wardrobe. No one who glanced her way would bother looking for long.
She set the horses on a swift path out of Mayfair.
Only when Grosvenor Square was no longer visible behind her did she allow herself a small smile of victory.
“Did we escape?” came a low, velvet voice from within the carriage.
Chloe’s skin went cold. Who was that? Graham wouldn’t be hiding in the back of the carriage. A stranger was in the coach! She twisted about and wrenched the privacy curtain to one side.
A handsome visage with soft brown hair and sculpted cheekbones stared back at her, glacial blue eyes wide with surprise.
“Faircliffe?” she blurted in disbelief.
“Miss… er… you?” he spluttered when he found his voice. “What the devil are you doing driving my carriage?”
About the Series
The Wild Wynchesters are a uniquely talented family of caper-committing siblings who don’t let High Society’s rules stop them from righting wrongs.
You can grab a FREE prequel: The Governess Gambit!
Meet the Wild Wynchesters: This fun-loving, caper-committing family of tight-knit siblings can’t help but find love and adventure!
Years ago, Chloe Wynchester and five other uniquely talented orphans were adopted by a wealthy baron with a secret mission: The motley Wynchester family fights for justice from the margins of high society. And the handsome, clever duke Chloe has long admired proves to be her worst enemy…
An unscrupulous boarding school is exploiting orphans in a secret workhouse. Baron Vanderbean plots a daring rescue. When illness befalls him, Chloe must take the reins. But how can a lifelong wallflower lead the charge to save the children?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ERICA RIDLEY
Erica Ridley is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of witty, feel-good historical romance novels, including the upcoming THE DUKE HEIST, featuring the Wild Wynchesters. Why seduce a duke the normal way, when you can accidentally kidnap one in an elaborately planned heist?
In the 12 Dukes of Christmas series, enjoy witty, heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!
Two popular series, the Dukes of War and Rogues to Riches, feature roguish peers and dashing war heroes who find love amongst the splendor and madness of Regency England.
When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Central America, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.
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