[The Billingham Bastards 2]
After a lifetime of unrequited love with her arranged fiancé, Anne Danvers has finally become the Duchess of Waverly. But just a few days into her marriage, her husband vanishes. Rhys Carlisle, Duke of Waverly has spent his life knowing he was better than everyone else because of his impeccable bloodline.
But when he finds out everything he was told was a lie and he is in actually a bastard son of the late Duke of Billingham, his world is destroyed. He never expects his new wife to chase after him or demand she not be written out of his life. Nor does he expect the passion he feels for her to transform into love. But even as the two grow closer, Rhys’s dark secret looms in the distance, along with a blackmailer who could destroy any future Rhys and Anne have dared to dream.
Jenna Peterson has captured a startling snapshot of what it meant to grow up titled in Regency England. When little boys were taught that title, breeding, and fortune are everything, and life without them isn’t worth living. I was captivated by the characters right away, and read it straight through to the end without stopping. I felt Rhys’s fear, self-doubt, and self-loathing. And I felt Anne’s love and hope and heartache. Truly a remarkable love story with a touch of naughtiness.
Rhys Carlisle was one such boy. Up until the age of thirteen, he made friends with titled and commoner alike. But when Rhys turned thirteen, his father decided it was time Rhys learned what it meant to “follow in his footsteps,” and he learned the lesson very well indeed. Perhaps too well.
His arrogance, snobbery, and general lack of compassion were legendary. But underneath it all, Anne knew there lurked a good and honest man. So when Rhys’s best friend, Simon Crathorne, Duke of Billingham, shared bad news with him the day they returned from their honeymoon, he was shaken to his very core. He questioned every principle, every truth he’d known and found himself lacking. So he ran away.
Worried sick over her missing husband, Anne discreetly searches for him without luck. Finally, Simon provides a clue to his whereabouts and transportation to get her there, but refuses to tell her why Rhys fled in the first place.
Raised to defer to her husband in all matters, Anne must learn to assert herself if she’s to save her marriage. Under her loving guidance, Rhys learns the real truths of life – love, friendship, and compassion for his fellow man. But that’s not enough for him to share his shameful secret with her. What’s worse, he plans to separate from her when they return to London. He’s convinced himself that’s the only way to save her from the savagery of the ton.
During all this, Anne discovers she’s capable of great passion, and Rhys feeds that passion all while withholding himself from her. He tells her that because of the circumstances, he will never give her a child.
When they return to London, Rhys finally confesses his tragic secret to her. A secret so potentially devastating that both he and Simon are being blackmailed to suppress it. Loving her husband as she does, Anne vows to stand beside him. But when he chooses to give in to the blackmailer and give up their life together, Anne realizes he’s unwilling to fight for her and walks out on him.
With Anne gone from his life, Rhys discovers the true depth of his love for her and decides he has to fight and win her back. This means he has to find a way to thwart the blackmailer without revealing his secret. And he does so in a most remarkable way.
The Billingham Bastards
What the Duke Desires-November 1, 2009
The Unclaimed Duchess-August 31, 2010
A Scoundrel’s Surrender-August 1, 2011