One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
Series: Stud Club #1
Also in this series: Twice Tempted by a Rogue, Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Published by Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date: May 25th 2010
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Regency
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In One Dance with a Duke—the first novel in Tessa Dare’s delightful new trilogy—secrets and scandals tempt the irresistible rogues of the Stud Club to gamble everything for love. A handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so select it has only ten members—yet membership is attainable to anyone with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing “Duke of Midnight.” Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody ever bests the duke—until Lady Amelia d’Orsay tries her luck.
In a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke’s dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer forgive her scapegrace brother’s debts, she never imagines that her game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the shocking murder of the Stud Club’s founder. Will Amelia lose her heart in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?
From the Paperback edition.
Spencer Dumarque, the Duke of Morland, has garnered a reputation for himself. Every night at the stroke of midnight he shows up at a ball, dances one dance with one girl, escorts her to dinner, then leaves. Thus society is totally smitten with him. They’ve dubbed him The Duke of Midnight. Lady Amelia d’Orsay has dubbed him something else, however..a cad.
Spencer is a member of the exclusive Stud Club. But he isn’t satisfied with owning one-tenth of the stud horse the club is named after. He won’t settle for less than full ownership. Unfortunately for Lady Amelia and her family, the coins can’t be sold or given away – they must be won in a game of chance. Her brother was lucky enough to gain one of these coins, and unlucky enough to lose it – along with a considerable sum of money – to Morland. Desperate to get him to release the debt, Amelia claims Spencer’s midnight dance..and sets off an entirely unexpected chain of events.
Shortly thereafter The Stud Club’s founder, Leo, is found murdered and Spencer and Amelia set off break the news to his twin sister. The other remaining members of the club, Rhys St. Maur and Julian Bellamy, decide someone must marry Leo’s sister as a way to protect her. Julian can’t because he doesn’t consider himself his equal. Rhys refuses for his how reasons. That leaves Spencer. Only Spencer isn’t interested in marrying anyone. Or is he. Because though he can’t imagine marrying Leo’s sister, the more he thinks about it, the more he realizes Amelia is everything he wants in a wife. Of course, convincing her might be more trouble that it’s worth, but once Spencer makes up his mind he isn’t easily deterred.
Amelia was very refreshing as a heroine. She was thisclose to being on the shelf, so she was somewhat more mature as a woman. I really liked that she was so practical and down to earth. She wasn’t a simpering miss, convinced love is the only answer to everything. She knew she wouldn’t get a better offer of marriage, and though Spencer wasn’t exactly what she’d always been dreaming of, she was practical enough to accept this was the best thing for her. She showed strength and depth of character.
Spencer was a coarse man. Or maybe plain-speaking is a better way to put it. He said what was on his mind and often alienated others – including Amelia – because of the way he put things. But he was strong and sensitive, even if he didn’t always show it. I really adored him. Both he and Amelia were flawed and that made their coming together all the more real.
While I loved most if it, I’m really struggling to come to terms with the actions of the heroine at the end of the book. Both protagonists made mistakes throughout, but I don’t understand why the heroine made the choice she did at the very end. Throughout the book I adored her, but there at the end I found myself questioning her feelings for the hero. She truly didn’t seem to care for him as much as he did her, by thought or deed.
Otherwise I really loved it. The story itself was wonderfully told and the characters were beautifully drawn. Both were flawed, yet lovable. Though the end marred my overall enjoyment somewhat, I still have to say this was a fabulous novel in what looks to be a promising trilogy. I’m anxious to start the next one.
4.25 out of 5
I have an extra copy this book. If you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment on this post telling us why you want to read it, and we’ll enter your name in the drawing. Contest ends Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.