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The Duchess
Cover of The Duchess
The Duchess
A Novel
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The incomparable Danielle Steel breaks new ground as she takes us to nineteenth-century England, where a high-born young woman is forced out into the world—and begins a journey of survival, sensuality, and long-sought justice.
Angélique Latham has grown up at magnificent Belgrave Castle under the loving tutelage of her father, the Duke of Westerfield, after the death of her aristocratic French mother. At eighteen she is her father's closest, most trusted child, schooled in managing their grand estate. But when he dies, her half-brothers brutally turn her out, denying her very existence. Angélique has a keen mind, remarkable beauty, and an envelope of money her father pressed upon her. To survive, she will need all her resources—and one bold stroke of fortune.
Unable to secure employment without references or connections, Angélique desperately makes her way to Paris, where she rescues a young woman fleeing an abusive madam—and suddenly sees a possibility: Open an elegant house of pleasure that will protect its women and serve only the best clients. With her upper-class breeding, her impeccable style, and her father's bequest, Angélique creates Le Boudoir, soon a sensational establishment where powerful men, secret desires, and beautiful, sophisticated women come together. But living on the edge of scandal, can she ever make a life of her own—or regain her rightful place in the world?
From England to Paris to New York, Danielle Steel captures an age of upheaval and the struggles of women in a male-ruled society—and paints a captivating portrait of a woman of unquenchable spirit, who in houses great or humble is every ounce a duchess.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The incomparable Danielle Steel breaks new ground as she takes us to nineteenth-century England, where a high-born young woman is forced out into the world—and begins a journey of survival, sensuality, and long-sought justice.
Angélique Latham has grown up at magnificent Belgrave Castle under the loving tutelage of her father, the Duke of Westerfield, after the death of her aristocratic French mother. At eighteen she is her father's closest, most trusted child, schooled in managing their grand estate. But when he dies, her half-brothers brutally turn her out, denying her very existence. Angélique has a keen mind, remarkable beauty, and an envelope of money her father pressed upon her. To survive, she will need all her resources—and one bold stroke of fortune.
Unable to secure employment without references or connections, Angélique desperately makes her way to Paris, where she rescues a young woman fleeing an abusive madam—and suddenly sees a possibility: Open an elegant house of pleasure that will protect its women and serve only the best clients. With her upper-class breeding, her impeccable style, and her father's bequest, Angélique creates Le Boudoir, soon a sensational establishment where powerful men, secret desires, and beautiful, sophisticated women come together. But living on the edge of scandal, can she ever make a life of her own—or regain her rightful place in the world?
From England to Paris to New York, Danielle Steel captures an age of upheaval and the struggles of women in a male-ruled society—and paints a captivating portrait of a woman of unquenchable spirit, who in houses great or humble is every ounce a duchess.
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    Chapter 1

    Belgrave Castle sat in all its splendor in the heart of Hertfordshire, as it had for eleven generations and nearly three hundred years, since the sixteenth century. And aside from some more modern features that had been added, and a few decorative touches, very little had changed in its history. And its owners followed the same traditions they had for more than two hundred years, which was reassuring. It was the family seat of Phillip, Duke of Westerfield. The Latham family had built Belgrave Castle, it was one of the largest castles in England, and due to the duke's fortune, one of the most beautifully maintained.

    The land around it was extensive and stretched as far as the eye could see, with forests, a large lake—which the groundsmen kept well stocked for fishing—and tenant farms, which were run by farmers whose ancestors had been serfs. The duke had overseen all of it since his youth, when his father died in a hunting accident on a neighboring estate. And under his diligent care, Belgrave and all its land and properties had prospered. At seventy-four, he had been schooling his eldest son, Tristan, in the management of the estate for several years. Phillip felt that his son was ready to take it on, and handle it responsibly, but he had other concerns about him. Tristan was forty-five years old, married with two daughters. The duke's younger son, Edward, was forty-two years old, had never married, and had no legitimate children, though countless illegitimate ones. No one knew just how many, not even Edward himself. And he was given to strong drink and gambling, and every kind of indulgence one could imagine, preferably if it involved fast horses or women. It would have been a disaster if he had been the eldest, but fortunately he wasn't, although neither of Phillip's sons had produced a son and heir.

    Both men were the sons of the duke's first wife, Arabella, the daughter of an earl, and Phillip's second cousin, with a handsome fortune of her own. She came from an irreproachable family, of aristocratic lineage, and she had been young when they married. It had been a union both families had approved of, Phillip had been twenty-eight, and Arabella barely seventeen, and strikingly pretty. She had been the star of her first London Season, where she had been expected to meet her future husband, and she had done so very successfully. But Phillip had discovered that she had a cold nature as she grew older, and she was far more interested in social pursuits, and enjoying the benefits of being a duchess, than she was in her husband, and she had even less interest in her children. She was a very self-centered woman, though greatly admired for her beauty. She had died of influenza when the boys were four and seven, and with the assistance of governesses, the large staff he employed, and his mother, the dowager duchess, who had still been alive at the time, Phillip had brought up his boys alone.

    The young women of neighboring families, and the London hostesses who entertained him when he went to town, did their best to catch his interest in the ensuing years. But the boys were in their twenties before Phillip met the woman who enchanted him totally and became the love of his life the moment he met her. Marie-Isabelle was the daughter of a French marquis, first cousin of the late French king who had died in the French Revolution. She was a Bourbon on one side of her family and Orléans on the other, with royals on both sides. She had been born during the first year of the Revolution and her parents had been killed shortly after, their château burned to the ground and all their possessions stolen...

About the Author-
  • Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors, with over 650 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include The Mistress, The Award, Rushing Waters, Magic, The Apartment, Property of a Noblewoman, Blue, Precious Gifts, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina's life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children's books Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood.
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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