I always enjoy a villainess, especially when she’s not all bad.


The Baroness stood next to the Duke. The firelight showed through her elegant pale gown, highlighting each curve and swell… 


Why not make the heroine’s arch rival in The Devil Duke star in the sequel, The Demon Duchess (soon to be released). I always enjoy a villainess, especially when she’s not all bad. Perfect example: the Baroness in The Sound of Music—my inspiration for Abigail Sutton, Trevor Barrington’s longtime mistress who is about to have her world shattered by her beau’s rowdy young house guest, Izzy De Luca. She doesn’t plan on conceding to the scrappy competition without a fight, however.


“The American has put Daddy in a foul mood again. He shouts at her a lot and when he is not shouting he stares. Funny that he should always watch her. You are so much prettier.”

“Yes, we will have to remind him of that. Let’s go find him, shall we?”


ARMS CROSSED, THE DUKE GLOWERED in the shadow of a giant oak tree as Charlotte and his troublesome charge played badminton. The miniature vagabond obviously had no idea what she was doing (but seemed to be enjoying herself all the same).

The graceful Baroness sailed to his side. She had unpinned her glorious mane of hair and it fell in a shimmering stream down her slender back. She laid a well-manicured hand on his sleeve. “She is quite dreadful at sports, isn’t she?”

“Yes, quite.”

He watched the girl intently as she kicked off her shoes and rolled up her tattered jeans. Her thin white tank top did little to conceal her body. It rolled up over her stomach as she dove for the birdy. She tripped and went down, howling with riotous laughter as Charlotte leapt on top of her. The girls rolled together on the grass, pinching and poking each other. Her threadbare jeans had slouched down low and a pair of very bright polka dot underwear peeked out of over the top of her waistband.

“Charlotte will stain her dress rolling around on the grass like that.”

The Duke hardly noticed the Baroness’s silken caress on his wrist. “Stains on dresses are the least of my worries.”

“Let’s go upstairs for a bit, my pet. You look very much as though you need to unwind.”

“Not now.”

She dropped her hand from his arm and pouted prettily. “I’ve never known you to turn me down. What’s gotten into you?”

“It’s the middle of the day,” he snapped.

“That certainly never stopped you before.”

Trevor grumbled in annoyance and called across the lawn. “Come along, Charlotte. No more cavorting. It’s time for lunch.”

Charlotte ran toward her father, taking the hand he held out to her. He threw a stern look over his shoulder at his unlikely house guest before heading into the house. Izzy snatched up her sneakers and brushed the grass from her bottom.

“You are quite good at this, aren’t you, Miss De Luca?” the Baroness commented.

“What do you mean?”

“Getting him to notice you—you are quite good at it.”

“Notice me?”

“He notices you in the way a man notices a woman.”

Izzy let out a loud snort. “Are you kidding me, the guy hates me.”

“All this quarreling and sparring, it’s the dance of seduction, is it not?”

“Oh yeah, I’m a real seductress.”

“You know you’ll have to share him, don’t you?”

“Share him! Are you nuts, lady? That guy wouldn’t touch me if I was the last chick on Earth. He doesn’t even see me as a chick. He thinks I look like a boy.”

“He can’t take his eyes off you.”

Izzy pulled on her hooded sweatshirt with a yank. “That’s because he is totally disgusted by me, it’s probably like staring at a car accident. You know, you can’t stop looking at it even though it’s totally gross.”

“You could be very attractive if you tried. You have awfully good bones.”

“Everyone keeps saying that, but I don’t even know what that means.”

“Just so long as you realize you are one of many. We all wait on line to spend an hour with him. He’s that good.”

Izzy adopted the tone of an outraged upper class Englishwoman as she brushed past the Baroness. “I’m suuuuuuuure I don’t know what you meeeeeeeean!”

“Wait a minute, Isabel. I think we have gotten off on the wrong foot. There is no reason we can’t be friends.”

“It would be raaaaaaaaaaather civilized.”

Abigail laughed with delight. “Oh, you do have us down pat, don’t you?”

Izzy laughed a little too. Her gaze drifted over the beautiful woman. What would it feel like to have it all, long legs, a perfect body and face—an hour with him?

“You must excuse me for acting a bit territorial. Trevor and I have known each other since we were children.”

“He probably wore a friggin’ suit in the cradle.”

“I know Trevor can be quite stuffy and cantankerous at times—”

Trevor. She gets to call him Trevor.

“—but you see, when he is in an agreeable mood, he can make you feel as though you are the only woman in the universe. I’m one of many too, waiting for the same thing—a chance to spend some time alone with him.”

“Well, I’ve spent some time alone with him and it was like being roasted alive over a slow flame. That guy is a friggin’ nightmare.”

The spirited young American flounced into the house.

“Good bones is not all she has,” the Baroness muttered under her breath.


To be continued…


Tessa Bowen