Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield

Arrogantly aristocratic and head of the Batten Family, Maximus spearheads the fight to rid London of gin.

Hero of Duke of Midnight.

Also ppears in Darling BeastDearest Rogue, and Duke of Sin.

Read order for Maximus’ story arc: Notorious Pleasures » Scandalous Desires » Thief of Shadows » Lord of Darkness » Duke of Midnight

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“Happy?” 

Hero turned at the deep male voice and saw her dear elder brother, Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield. For a moment, her mind blanked at the question. In the two months it had taken to arrange her engagement to the Marquess of Mandeville, Maximus had asked her several times if she was content with the match, but he had never asked her if she was happy.

“Hero?” Maximus’s straight dark brows drew together over his rather arrogant nose. 

She’d often thought that Maximus’s looks suited his rank perfectly. If one closed one’s eyes and tried to paint the perfect duke in one’s mind, Maximus would appear. He was tall, his shoulders broad but not heavy, his face long and lean and just a tad too coldly commanding to be truly handsome. His hair was dark brown—though he cropped it close, as he habitually wore immaculate white wigs—and his eyes were brown as well. Brown eyes were often thought warm, but one impatient glance from Maximus was enough to disabuse anyone of that notion. Warmth was the last thing one would associate with the Duke of Wakefield. And despite all that he was still her brother.

Hero smiled up at him. “Yes, I’m quite happy.”

Was that relief she saw in those stern eyes? For a moment, she felt a traitorous flash of irritation. Maximus had shown no sign before this moment that her happiness might be a factor in the match. The consolidation of lands and interests, the strengthening of his parliamentary alliance with Mandeville, those were the important considerations. Her feelings, as she well knew, played no part at all in the negotiations. And that was fine with her. She was the daughter of a duke, and she’d known from the cradle what her purpose and place in life was.

Maximus compressed his lips, surveying the crowded ballroom. “I wanted you to know that there is yet time for you to change your mind.”

“Is there?” She glanced about the ballroom. Mandeville House was exquisitely decorated. Blue and silver swags—the Wakefield family colors—intertwined with Mandeville scarlet and black. Vases of flowers stood on every table, and the marquess had hired and outfitted a veritable platoon of footmen. Hero looked back at her brother. “The contracts are settled and signed already.”

Maximus frowned in ducal displeasure. “If you truly wished to escape this engagement, I could break it.”

–from Notorious Pleasures