Promo: Revisiting THE MAGIC TOKEN (PG excerpt)

2003 EPPIE Award Finalist for Best Historical Romance!


Author: Susanne Marie Knight

Genre: Regency Romance

Price: $6.99

Available electronically at and Uncial Press.

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An old woman gives skeptical Amanda a magical coin. It couldn't possibly work, but then how else can she explain her sudden good fortune? The very man who captured her heart years ago appears, offering a position as governess. But how can she endure being near to a man so beyond her reach?

Marcus, Duke of Yarborough, is burdened by family and political responsibilities. A chance meeting throws him together with the engaging sprite from his past, causing him to reevaluate his beliefs. For once in his life, the call of love beckons far stronger than duties and obligations.

Scene Set-Up:
Newly hired as governess to the Duke of Yarborough’s young sister, Daphne, Amanda finds herself having to lie to protect Daphne from the duke’s displeasure.

After the door closed, the duke gestured toward a wide, cushioned settee, away from the fireplace. “Please, have a seat, Miss Barclay.”

Amanda gladly complied. To her dismay, he remained standing. She had a coveted, close-up view of his muscled thighs. Her heart pounded in response, but only because he towered over her; no other reason.

“What was my sister crying about?”

Her first dealing with the Duke of Yarborough and she had to lie. And he just said he hated secrets. If her father were alive, he would preach up a storm.

But she had to protect the child. It was important that Daphne tell the duke herself. “Um, it was nothing important, your grace.”

Convinced or not, he shrugged away the incident. “So, I am a busy man. I shall get right to the point. Do you agree to become my sister’s governess? I think you will find me generous. Very generous. Indeed, I have had no complaints from any of my women acquaintances.”

Amanda raised her hand to her throat. Women acquaintances? Whatever did he mean? Was he talking about... mistresses? He could not possibly mean to dishonor her. Narrowing her gaze, she regarded him warily.

He pulled off his leather gloves and slapped them against one hand. “Well, speak up. What do you say--yea or nay? Save your missishness for another occasion, hmmm?”

She flushed. How embarrassing that he could read her private thoughts. Far from feeling at ease, she sat at the edge of the cushion. “You do not know anything about me, your grace. How can you be certain of my competence?”
Dropping his gloves next to his hat, he stood and paced in front of her. Every step he took closer to the fireplace made her wince with apprehension. She and Daphne had been lucky--so far.

“Fishing for compliments, are you, Miss Barclay? Well then, I shall oblige you.” He ticked off comments on his fingers. “One, you are the daughter of a baronet, I believe. And sister to a parson--I cannot think of more steadying influences than those. Two, you have been away nursing relatives--this shows stamina. Three, Pritchard has spoken for you. I value his opinion.”

The duke swept his gaze over the length of her. “And four, concerning your outward appearance, suitably clothed, you do not inspire aversion.”

She gasped. His insult drummed savagely through her veins, chilling her very core. A sudden frost descended over her limbs, disabling her.

His highly polished Hessian boots came to a stop in front of her. She could only stare at the boots’ small, black tassels, jiggling to a halt.

“Ah, I have made a mull of it, haven’t I?” He reached down and carefully tugged her to her feet. “I do apologize, Miss Barclay. I am a plain speaker. At times the things I say are not suitable for the gentler sex. Six years in Wellington’s army had that effect on me.”

She removed her hand from his. Speaking of effects, Marcus’ close proximity had a dizzying one on her. Instead of looking him in the face, she contemplated the complex folds of his cravat. Being this near to him was even worse than she imagined.

Worse? No, perhaps it was more like heaven.

“I-I had no idea you fought in the war, your grace.”

“True, it is unusual for the heir to serve king and country. However, my duty abroad suited my father as well as myself.”

He shrugged, belittling his patriotic service. “The past is best forgotten.”

With one finger, he nudged her chin up. His blazing bright eyes held her captive. “I do so hope you will accept this position, Miss Barclay. My sister is greatly in need of guidance. Her mother scarce bothers with the child. Regretfully, Nanette is as flighty as they come. I sometimes believe she cares more for my father’s son, Gregory, by his second wife, than she does for her own child.”

Releasing his hold, the duke abruptly backed away as if disturbed. He strode over to a redwood sideboard and from a crystal decanter, poured amber fluid into two tumblers. The smell of fine, aged whisky drifted over to her. “Enough of these delays! Have a drink and we will seal the bargain.”

Bereft of his support, Amanda sank back down onto the settee. She willed her suddenly rapid heartbeat to return to normal. “I do not drink, your grace.”

He observed her from over the top of his glass. His eyes seemed to smolder. “Pity,” he murmured.

Staring at her folded hands in her lap, she stalled for time. “How long would you be requiring me, your grace?”

He downed the drink, then poured another. “Hey? Requiring you? I--”

Turning his broad back to her, he held onto the edge of the sideboard. “A fair question. In truth, Lady Daphne needs a stabilizing influence in her young life. Someone who will not pack up and leave at the first temper tantrum. And I promise you, there will be temper tantrums.”

He spun around. “Can you stay the course, Miss Barclay?”

From under half-lidded eyes, he gazed at her. Even from across the room, his masculine presence troubled her, sending wondrous strange tingles down her spine. He was charming--a rogue and an aristocrat, all rolled into one vastly appealing man. She would find it difficult to resist him, but she somehow she had to.

She tucked an errant lock of hair back into her chignon and made her decision--her commitment. “Yes, I believe I can, your grace. However, as I have just returned home, I am loathe to leave again. If I do accept, this position would be temporary for me. Only while Daphne is in Swinbrook. Are we in agreement?”

“Temporary? This is not what I had in mind, Miss Barclay.” Marcus frowned his displeasure. His midnight brows descended close to his eyes.

One did not disobey a duke--usually. But once she had inconvenienced his father by refusing to exchange her virtue for a bag of gold coins. And now she inconvenienced Marcus. Perhaps these society men were too used to getting their own way.

“Those are my terms.” Sitting back in the settee for the first time, she exhaled a ragged breath. Goodness, but when he was angry, he looked like the wrath of God.

A slow smile hovered on his lips. After a moment, his deep, rich laughter filled the main parlor. She watched in amazement. What could be so humorous?

He slammed his tumbler down, splashing whisky over the sides. “You drive a hard bargain, Miss Barclay! However, I like that, especially in a woman. Tell me, are you always so determined?”

Uncertain of what to make of his change in moods, she just nodded.

He quickly covered the distance separating them, then extended his hand. “Done. I agree--for now. I will arrange to have your things transported to the manor house today.”

His handshake was firm and exciting, like the rest of him. From his touch, agreeable sensations fluttered up her arm and down into her midsection. Years before she had not known what to make of those feelings. Now she was well aware of what they meant. They meant danger.

She stared at the fullness of his lips. What would it be like to kiss--

Marcus broke contact. “Since our business is finished, I will let you and Lady Daphne get better acquainted.” He turned to go.


I hope you enjoy!

Susanne Marie Knight
Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist

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