"You'll love Lenora Bell!" —Eloisa James

You’re the Duke That I Want

The Thunderbolt Club, Book 1

Available December 26, 2023 from HarperCollins Avon

You're the Duke That I WantUSA Today bestseller Lenora Bell returns with a Grease-inspired rom-com about an innocent lady who clashes with a sexy rake, the first book in a brand-new series sure to delight fans of Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, and Julia Quinn.

Raised by an overprotective mother, bookish romantic Sandrine Oliver craves adventure, but nothing exciting ever happens in her sleepy seaside village. Until a handsome, mysterious stranger arrives and sweeps her off her feet…only to leave suddenly with no explanation.

Lord Dane Walker, brother to the Duke of Rydell, is infamous for racing fast carriages and breaking hearts. But when his brother is mortally injured, Dane inherits the responsibilities of the dukedom—duties that come with a dangerous secret which threatens everyone close to him.

In London, Sandrine is astonished to learn that the charming, honorable man she met at the beach is really a disreputable rake. And the infuriating nobleman acts as though he barely knows her.

Who needs a wild rake? Certainly not Sandrine! With a little help from her friends, she transforms into a glamorous belle. She’s out to make Dane pay…but can she stop her traitorous heart from longing to surrender only to him?

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HarperCollins Avon (December 26, 2023)
ISBN-10: 0063316889
ISBN-13: 9780063316881
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Reviews for You’re the Duke That I Want

“There is a good reason why discerning romance readers are hopelessly devoted to Bell’s (Duke Most Wicked, 2022) cheeky and charming books, since she continues to serve up inventive takes on the classic Regency historical. To launch her new Thunderbolt Club series, Bell effectively channels her love for the musical Grease into a smart and sexy love story infused with a full measure of the author’s devilishly dry sense of humor.” (Booklist)

“A rollicking Regency retelling of Grease...The transposition of the classic musical to Regency England works surprisingly well, with perhaps the cutest change being that, instead of cars, the characters brag about their carriages. This is good fun.” (Publishers Weekly Review)

“Witty banter and steamy love scenes will keep readers saying, ‘Tell me more!’…This book will appeal to readers seeking a fast-paced historical romance that is passionate and playful, with a heavy dose of modern movie inspiration. Recommended for fans of Eloisa James, Sabrina Jeffries, and Tessa Dare.” (Library Journal)

“This is such a fun and romantic start to The Thunderbolt Club series. With major vibes from the film Grease, which I’ve seen a zillion times, I guess you could say this historical romance and I go together like ramma-lamma-lamma-ka-dingity-da-dinga-dong.” (One Book More Review)

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Excerpt from Chapter Two

The voice was low-pitched and male, bellowing something about saving her. Sandrine paddled her hands and kicked her feet until she was facing shore.

“I’m quite all right,” she called to the man on the shore. “Please go away,” she added, conscious that she was clad only in her shift—her bonnet, gown, and boots a heap of white and blue on the sparkling sand. So far away. Her mother was going to murder her. She’d been caught swimming in the sea by a stranger. A tall, well-built stranger. She couldn’t see his features clearly, but he looked young. And maybe he was . . . handsome? Sandrine was absolutely forbidden from speaking to strange men. But this one appeared to believe that she needed rescuing. He performed an awkward dance to divest himself of his boots and loped toward the sea.

“I’ll save you!” he shouted again, crashing into the water.

“I don’t need saving, my feet reach the bottom,” she shouted back. “See?” She righted herself, walking toward him, but he paid her no heed, diving into the waves and heading straight toward her.

Goodness! The huge dark shape of him bore down upon her. Did he mean to run her right over? She scrambled about, attempting to flee the impending collision. She reached a deeper spot, and suddenly her feet had nowhere to land. A wave splashed over her head and she sputtered, flailing her arms a little, only because she was surprised, not because she was drowning. She was nearly back to the shallower part when he was upon her in a great churning of powerful arms and a rearing of broad shoulders.

He clasped hold of her waist with one strong arm, his face looming in front of her. She could only see parts of him through the wet hair plastered to her brow and cheeks. An angular jaw. A deep cleft in the middle of his chin. Dark eyebrows over deep blue eyes.

“I’ve got you now, don’t panic. We’ll be on shore in no time,” he said in a husky growl.

“I wasn’t panicking at all until you—” she attempted to explain, but her words turned into gurgles as he hauled her through the water by her waist where she bobbed up and down, tucked under his arm like a piece of driftwood. She struggled to free herself but only succeeded in swallowing more seawater, which made her cough, only adding credence to his misguided belief that he was rescuing a helpless, drowning damsel.

There was no reasoning with or stopping him. Rescue her he would. She was obliged to twist out from under his arm and clamp her legs around his waist like a limpet clinging to a rock so that her head remained above water. She was finally able to draw enough breath to speak.

“I wasn’t drowning,” she sputtered, the erratic motion of his striding jostling her tighter against his hard body.

“Stay calm,” he instructed. “We’re nearly there.”

He half dragged, half carried her up the beach and deposited her beside the heap of her clothing, dripping water onto her book. He was breathing heavily, his chest heaving, the sodden fabric of his dark-colored shirt clinging to his wide chest and muscular shoulders. She could see the outlines of his body through his wet clothing. His leather riding breeches were plastered to his thick, powerful thighs, and the visible bulge between. He loomed over her, blocking out the sun. The sight made her feel light-headed. Or maybe it was all the seawater she’d swallowed. And if she could see his every outline . . . she glanced down. Her shift was transparent. He could see everything.

She heard her mother’s voice ringing in her mind. Keep your gaze modestly lowered and your ankles crossed. But really, was there any point in attempting modesty when one was already so thoroughly exposed? Everything about this encounter was completely forbidden. She squeezed her eyes shut, trembling a little from the breeze on her wet flesh, but mostly because of the handsome stranger still looming over her.

He dropped to his knees and wiped hair out of her eyes. “Don’t die on me now.” His fingers closed around her wrist, feeling for a pulse.

“You’re shaking, poor thing,” he muttered. He rubbed her hands with his, blowing on them with hot breath. “We’ll have you warm in no time. The sun is high.” Gently, he rolled her over until she lay on her back. She kept her eyes squeezed shut.

His fingers hovered over her mouth, his thumb brushing her lower lip.

“Still breathing,” he said hoarsely. “That’s a good sign.”

She peeped at him from under her lashes, watching for signs that he’d been transformed into a ravening beast at the sight of her exposed flesh. He appeared genuinely concerned about her welfare. Although, she did notice his gaze lingering on her bosom for a brief, heart-pounding moment. He really was undeniably good-looking. Sandrine noted this while keeping her eyes mostly closed and lying still. She was attempting to catch her breath and make some sense of what had just happened. She also needed to formulate a plan whereby she obtained his solemn promise never to mention any of this to her mother.

The longer she lay still, the more agitated he became. Which was rather satisfying, given the distress he’d so recently caused her.

“You’ll catch a cold,” he muttered. He left for a moment and then was back with his coat. He lifted her by the shoulders, wrapping his coat about her and cradling her against his chest.

“Wake up, miss.”

There was a lovely scent about his jawline despite his seawater dunking, as though he’d shaved with expensive soap scented with manly things like cedarwood and leather. She fit perfectly against his wide chest, enclosed in the safety of his strong arms. Her breathing quieted as he stroked her back and wrapped her in warmth. His lips had a sensual fullness about them and on closer inspection the cleft in the center of his chin was a deep dimple.

Could it be that she was the one undergoing the beastly transformation? She did feel an unprecedented stirring in her bosom. Her mother was always warning her about the danger of carnal cravings. Perhaps this was what she meant. She had the strangest urge to pull his head down to her level and kiss those finely sculpted lips.

He reached around her, wrestling something out of his coat pocket with one hand. Something cold and hard pressed against her lips, opening them. Molten fire burned down her throat, and her eyes flew open as she sat up and wiped her lips.

“What was that?”

“Brandy.” He screwed the lid back onto a silver flask. “Works wonders for reviving fainting young ladies. Though, I did notice you peeping at me from under your lashes.”

“I wasn’t! And I’m forbidden by my mother to taste strong spirits. Oh dear, I’m breaking so many of her rules today.” The taste of it lingered on her tongue, heavy and spiced with forbidden vice.

She’d never tasted strong spirits. Or dipped so much as a toe into the sea. Never allowed her feet to leave the earth and her arms to spread wide in a cradle of water. Never worn a wet shift in front of a man. Or been clasped in a man’s embrace, or felt his thumb brush her lips.

His eyes were a clear blue, and dark wet hair curled over his brow. She’d have to remember every detail. How he’d held her so solicitously. How, when he laughed at her, his lips quirked to one side and his eyes sparked with devilry. She was up to at least six unpredictable and thrilling occurrences by now—and she’d broken so many of her mother’s rules that she’d lost count.