"A romantic, fantastic, enchanting treat."―Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author of The Ugly Duchess for A Royal Pain
Being royal isn't all it's cracked up to be...
Abigail Heyworth, youngest daughter of the 18th Duke of Northrop, is not your typical British royal―she'll take a recycling drive over a charity ball any day. She can't stand hats and heels. Abby's not getting much sympathy, of course, because everyone thinks the life of royalty is so charmed.
But to Abigail, keeping up appearances is unbearable, while running away doesn't seem to work either. Just when she feels like she's getting whiplash from swinging between flat-out rebellion to miserable capitulation, Abigail meets an all-American self-made millionaire who challenges her on every level.
It may turn out that what Abigail is searching for kind of resembles the American Dream...
Praise for USA Today bestseller A Royal Pain:
"A delightful love story...worth reading again and again."―Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Filled with clever characters, witty banter, and steamy sex, readers won't be able to put it down."―RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars
"Fresh, funny, and engaging."―Booklist
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Megan Mulry writes sexy, modern, romantic fiction. She graduated from Northwestern University and then worked in publishing, including positions at The New Yorker and Boston magazine. After moving to London, Mulry worked in finance and attended London Business School. Mulry is a member of RWA. She has traveled extensively in Asia, India, Europe, and Africa and now lives with her husband and children in Florida.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"So, are you still a lesbian or not?" Max asked, out of pure curiosity.
Abby almost spit her mouthful of scotch directly into her older brother's face. Instead, she swallowed loudly and asked, "What does that even mean?"
"You know what I mean. I'm not trying to pigeonhole you or be small-minded or anything-I'm just ill equipped to understand the parameters."
"Do you love your wife?"
"What kind of question is that? Of course I love my wife. I'm mad about her. What does that have to do with anything?"
"Everything. It has to do with everything." Abby tried not to get too fired up, but when Max acted like an ass, it was sort of her sisterly responsibility to set him straight. "Look. I loved Tully. I'll probably always love her. She was everything to me for almost ten years-I can't very well dismiss that as some sort of passing phase. But, to be perfectly honest, I never really thought of ours as a primarily gay relationship. I think it's difficult to explain."
"Try me." He lifted one eyebrow in challenge.
"Especially to one's older brother." She quirked her eyebrow up in a mirror image of his, then settled a little deeper into the comfortable deck chair. "Okay. And this is only for you, by the way. I'm not trying to be some bisexual standard-bearer in The Guardian weekend section, all right?"
Max smiled. "All right."
"I suppose I understand what you're asking and my answer is... there is no answer. Or maybe, I don't think your need to know should force me into some weird cultural-box answer. Lesbian, bisexual, pansexual. I mean, please. I'm not going to label myself to make you feel better."
Taking a deep breath, Max continued. "I only meant... do you think you're going to start dating? Do you like anyone?"
There was someone, but she wasn't about to admit that to Max when she could barely admit it to herself. "That's not what you were asking and you know it. But obviously you're going to badger me until I give you some sort of data on this. You're such a statistics nerd."
"True enough. Go on."
Abigail sighed. She didn't resent it as much as she ought. Max was kind of forcing her to pinpoint what had been rolling around in her brain for the past six months anyway. "Tully was the best. She was... look, you know her. She's glorious. She really was all that. Beautiful, caring, sexy. I loved Tully... the person." Abby's voice went a bit quieter. "But it wore out, somehow."
"I get it."
Abby straightened a bit and took a deep breath. "No time for being maudlin at the end of such a splendid weekend. Devon and Sarah's wedding was lovely, didn't you think?"
"It's not maudlin." He ignored her attempt to steer the conversation away from herself. "You don't always need to be the one who buoys everyone up, you know? I think it's amazing how much you loved Tully, but that you're strong enough to want to strive for something... more. You're brave, Abs. You're an adventurer."
She shrugged. She didn't have the heart to tell him she was starting to feel like a bit of a coward where a certain man was concerned.
"So." Max took a sip of his scotch. "If I were to set you up on a blind date, hypothetically, of course, would it be with a boy or a girl?"
"Max!" Abby laughed. "Enough! When I find out, I'll let you know, how about that?"
"Oh fine. I'm not trying to pry-"
"Of course you are! It's what big brothers do, remember?"
"All right. I admit it. I'm prying you open with a crowbar. You just seem out of sorts lately. You're usually so outgoing and involved in all your... things..."
"Oh, dear Max. You're adorable. I'm an activist. There's a word for all my things."
"I know, I know." He waved one hand as if activist was a word that didn't really count... a retrofitted word. "Abigail the Activist."
Lady Abigail Elizabeth Margaret Victoria Catherine Heyworth, fourth child of the eighteenth Duke of Northrop, sister to her filial inquisitor, the nineteenth Duke of Northrop, felt the weight of all those powerful, regal names pressing down on her. "I'm sick of monikers," she added with a touch of defeat.
"Well, if nothing else, that I understand entirely," Max added with bitter enthusiasm. "When Bronte really wants to set me off, she insists on calling me ‘your grace' or refers to me in the third person as ‘the duke' when it's only the two of us in the room, like, ‘Is the duke in a bad mood?' or ‘What does the duke want for dinner?' She knows it's the worst possible taunt. No one wants to be a moniker. Sorry, Abs."
"That's all right. I know what you were asking. Maybe I'm just trying to avoid having to really think about it. I feel like I've been Abigail-the-lesbian-younger-sister for so many years, especially in Mother's eyes, it might be easier to maintain the role."
"As long as you also maintain that Mother is often cruel and senseless, then go right ahead. Otherwise, just be you. We all revel in your independence and free will, especially those of us who are more tethered to tradition through no fault of our own."
"Are you complaining about being a fucking duke again?" Bronte's cheerful, flat American accent cut through the hot Caribbean night air as she stepped out onto the misshapen deck that extended at a precarious angle overlooking the moonlit bay.
Abby looked up and smiled at her fabulous, if brash, sister-in-law, and watched as Bronte settled happily into Max's lap. Her long, straight chestnut hair hung over one shoulder (and Max gave her a quick kiss on the other) as she looped her hand around the back of his neck.
"Even worse," Max drawled, "I asked Abby if she was still a lesbian, and then I started complaining about being a duke."
"You didn't! Oh, Abby, he's so dim sometimes! I'm trying to be patient, but..." She gave him a kiss on the cheek and turned back to her sister-in-law. "He's not as smart as he is handsome."
"In any case," Abby said, looking pointedly at her brother, "and regardless of what Mother would euphemistically refer to as my choices-I need a plan for when we get back to England. It's been great of you two to weave me into the fabric of your happy little family at Dunlear for the past few months, but I have to start a life of my own at some point. I don't even know where I want to live, let alone what I'm going to do."
Bronte spoke with quick efficiency. "I'd offer you a job at the agency in a second-I think you could sell steak to a vegan, with all that enthusiasm and fire-but advertising would probably be tantamount to heresy as far as your moral compass is concerned. What do you want to do?"
"Damned if I know... something that does good?" Abby's voice sounded unsure, then she barked a laugh. "What a toff I sound like!"
"Well, aren't you?" Bronte asked.
"Ha!" Max laughed. "Yeah, Abs, aren't you a toff?"
"Very funny. You two are beastly. I'm not the one living in a castle."
"Really?" Max pushed. "Last time I checked, you were living with us in said castle."
"I'm not living with you! I'm staying... with you... for a while."
"Right." Max smiled and took another sip. "After six months, staying is also known as living."
"Enough!" But Abby laughed because he was right. "I'm going to be staying in London a lot more once we get back."
"At Mother's? In Mayfair?" Max asked with another taunting smile.
"That was low." Abby smiled and took a long swallow of scotch.
"Well? If it looks like a toff and quacks like a toff?"
Bronte burst out laughing. "That's so fucking true!"
Abby tried to keep a straight face. "I am not a toff... moving on. Do you two want to help me get on with my life or not?"
Bronte clapped her hands together, as if embarking on a new adventure. "Yes! What should Abigail be?"
Max watched as the two women discussed the various ideas for Abby's future, enjoying their easy camaraderie and the warmth of Bronte in his lap.
"I didn't love being removed from civilization," Abby mused.
"What do you mean?" Bronte asked.
"Well, all those times Tully and I were away-working on the organic farms in New Zealand or helping build the wells in Kenya or living in the caravan at Findhorn-I loved all the work, the physical labor and having something real to show for our efforts, but I kept thinking, not always, mind you, but often enough, that all I really wanted to do was walk out my front door at two in the morning and get a pint at some crowded pub off of Leicester Square and smoke a few cigs and laugh at some dirty jokes. But then I felt guilty that I wasn't satisfied with the simple life and all of the good we were doing. I see now that a lot of that was due to what was, well, disintegrating between Tully and me. I think I want to be in a city for a while and work with an organization that's really hands-on, with people. I still sound like a toff, don't I?"
Max smiled as Bronte launched in.
"No! I know exactly what you mean. You need to talk to my friend Cammie; she's the head of an organization in New York that funds one-woman projects. You would love her-"
"You are impossible," Max mumbled.
"What?" Bronte turned to her husband in mock innocence.
"Don't pay her any mind, Abby, she's the world's worst matchmaker."
"The last thing I want is to be set up on a date, Bron!"
"No! Nothing so transparent," Max said. "She would hardly try something as easy as meddling in your love life; she will orchestrate your whole life! Just wait, she'll have names and numbers and emails flying your way within a day."
Bronte conceded, "He's right, of course, but there's nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. I just want the best for everyone." But she looked a tiny bit sheepish.
"And you know what is best for everyone, I presume?" Max said as he gave her a little pinch on the behind.
She leapt from his lap and laughed. "Well! At least I don't fucking ask people if they're still lesbians!" She looked at Abb...
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