EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: The Governess and the Duke

From the author of Cinderella and the Duke, Lydia Drake, comes the next installment in the Renegade Dukes series! Releasing on December 26, 2023, this book is currently available to pre-order. Find out where to pre-order here.


“The day Viola had learned that Huntington would not marry Susannah, she’d felt as though a death sentence had been commuted at the last minute. Even if Viola knew there was no hope of him ever loving her, she liked to have at least the possibility of his affection. Once Huntington was married, that dream would end forever.
Viola had waited for Huntington to return to town, as had the Ashworths and the rest of their peers in the ton. But it had been fifteen months or more, and the duke had not left Northumberland. She gazed wistfully at the castle’s imposing structure, wondering where inside its walls Huntington concealed himself.
“Why can’t we just stay at Moorcliff, anyway?” Felicity, bored again, dropped her pencil and turned a cartwheel. Her skirts flew upside down, a most unladylike display.
“Because we have not been invited. Felicity, young ladies do not show off their undergarments to the world!”
“But the duke’s His Grace’s friend, isn’t he? I’m sure he’d be happy to see us.”
“If you were with the Duke of Ashworth or the duchess, that would be one thing. As a governess, however, it would be improper for me to call upon the Duke of Huntington, even if we are acquainted.”

Felicity made an affronted noise. “That’s ridiculous! We fought a bloody Revolution over that sort of thing, didn’t we?”
“Are you referring to the French or American Revolution?” Viola asked, trying not to weep. How many hours had she labored to instruct Felicity in history?
“The one where they cut people’s heads off.”
“I feared as much. That was the one in France, dear, as we have been over before.”
“Well, if you can’t call on the Duke of Huntington just because you’re a governess, then maybe we ought to chop a few people’s heads off until everyone sees sense.”
“Sometimes, Felicity, I don’t know whether you’re joking or not.” Viola shivered as an autumnal breeze knifed past. She closed the sketch pad so that the papers wouldn’t fly about and began to take down her easel. “We can continue tomorrow. Right now, I think we should return to the inn. The sun will be down soon.”

“But I wanted to go nearer the castle! I’m sure there are other places to sketch.”
Felicity continued to prove baffling. Normally she could not wait to be freed from work. Now she wished to spend more time at her craft?
“We won’t be able to sketch when the sun is down. Come along.”
“But it’s lovely here! We’ve been standing still in one place or another the entire day. I want some exercise!” So saying, Felicity snatched Viola’s sketch pad out of the governess’s hands and began bounding away across the field. They were situated upon a hill overlooking Moorcliff, and Viola cried out in fond exasperation as she started taking down Felicity’s easel as well.
“Felicity Alice Berridge! You come back here this instant,” she called. Of course, Viola didn’t have it in her to be hard on the girl. No matter how wild Felicity grew, everyone adored her. Felicity had the gift of natural charisma, which Viola often wished she could possess in even some small amount.

“No! You’ll have to catch me first!” With a squeal of joy, Felicity started running along the hill’s incline, waving her arms to keep her balance. Viola finished tying up the easels. She put away the pencils and various art supplies in a bag, then slung it over her shoulder.
“I’m not carrying your easel all the way back to the inn! Do you hear me?”
“No, can’t hear you! Better chase me,” Felicity shouted. She got tired of being so far away, and thus trotted toward Viola until the governess began to come after her. Shrieking with gleeful abandon, Felicity tossed the sketch pad aside and raced along the hill again, the grass waving about her ankles. Viola took up her sketch pad with a sigh.
Ignoring Felicity would put a damper on her high spirits much faster than chasing her would. While Viola waited for the maniacal girl to run out of energy, she looked at Moorcliff again and felt her gut twist.
Perhaps Felicity had a point.

Why did they have to live in a world where a woman like Viola couldn’t call upon a duke? Why couldn’t a woman in her position hope to love and be loved by him as well?”



Governess Viola Winslow has waited her whole life for the Duke of Huntington to notice her. But fate—and circumstance—is about to prove that sometimes falling for a duke is no accident. It’s a comedy of errors—and love—in this witty, Austen-esque new romance from the author of Cinderella and the Duke.


Each book in the Renegade Dukes series is a STANDALONE:
* Cinderella and the Duke
* The Governess and the Duke







Lydia Drake is a reader of all things romance and a drinker of all the tea. She’s been a die hard historical romance fan since her first viewing of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. The book is wonderful too, of course, but sadly it has no scenes of Colin Firth diving into a pond. A New Jersey resident, her favorite activities include taking the train to New York City, scouring used bookstores, spending time with her family and wrangling her hyperactive cockapoo puppy. Cinderella and the Duke is her debut novel.


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