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Imperial Splendour by Barbara Cartland

Imperial Splendour

by Barbara Cartland

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This book is dedicated to the Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who first suggested I should visit Russia to obtain the background for this novel. he also helped me with many of the authentic details.
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When handsome Duke of Welminster arrived in St. Petersburg to discuss the news of Napoleon's advance on Moscow. At that point, love is the furthest thing from his mind! Then, invited to the home of an old friend, Princess Sonia, the duke realizes that the princess sees him as a potential husband for her daughter, Tania. But as Tania and a young friend dance for him, it is the friend, Zoia, and not Tania, who captures his attention. Zoia is a beguiling young woman whose mother fell into disgrace by marrying beneath her station, and whose father, a French musician, still lives in the threatened city of Moscow. Suddenly, mystically, the duke finds himself under her spell.

Some nights Zola had lain awake in the darkness, knowing that her love for the Duke had increased every hour, every minute, feeling she had loved him for years, or perhaps centuries, in other lives.

Now he looked at her with an expression she had never seen before. His arms went round her.

"If you love me, if you really love me, that is all I want to know."

"I... love youl" Zoia said. "Desperately but...."

As she lifted her face his lips came down on hers, the fire that had burnt within her rising to her lips until she and the Duke; were lost in the wonder of it. How long the kiss lasted she had no idea. She only knew that when the Duke raised his head, words like music came from her.

"I love you... I love... you!"
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