How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell
Series: The Disgraceful Dukes #1
Published by HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
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The pleasure of your company is requested at Warbury Park. Four lovely ladies will arrive… but only one can become a duchess.
James, the scandalously uncivilized Duke of Harland, requires a bride with a spotless reputation for a strictly business arrangement. Lust is prohibited and love is out of the question.
Four ladies. Three days. What could go wrong?
She is not like the others…
Charlene Beckett, the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan, has just been offered a life-altering fortune to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke’s proposal. All she must do is:
* Be the perfect English rose [Ha!]
* Breathe, smile, and curtsy in impossibly tight gowns [blast Lady Dorothea’s sylph-like figure]
* Charm and seduce a wild duke [without appearing to try]
* Keep said duke far, far from her heart [no matter how tempting]
When secrets are revealed and passion overwhelms, James must decide if the last lady he should want is really everything he needs. And Charlene must decide if the promise of a new life is worth risking everything . . . including her heart.
James, the new Duke of Harland, is going to throw a house party. The attendees will be himself, his friend Dalton, and the four women he’s considering marrying. He chose those women because their fathers are influential in parliament. He really doesn’t want to marry but he knows he needs an heir. He plans on getting married, staying in England long enough to impregnate said bride and then he’ll head off to the West Indies where’s he has his cocoa plantation.
Lady Dorothea is the daughter of an earl and one of the chosen four women who will attend the house party. Unfortunately, she’s on a boat sailing home from Italy and her mother, Lady Desmond, is not about to let this opportunity pass her daughter by. She heads to a brothel called the Pink Feather, where her husband’s by-blow, Charlene, lives and works. Charlene’s mother owns the brothel and Charlene does laundry and the books there – refusing to be a courtesan. Charlene is also the spitting image of Lady Dorothea and Lady Desmond wants her to pretend to be Dorothea so that she can snag the Duke. Once Dorothea’s back in town then she’ll marry the duke. Charlene will earn enough money to pay off a loan for her mother and Charlene’s younger sister will be able to get away from the Pink Feather.
The weekend starts out well but from the get go James can’t seem to keep his eyes off of Charlene. She thinks he’s handsome as well and makes every effort to grab his attention. Though she’s definitely unconventional, James seems to be attracted to that and soon the pair are finding it hard to stay away from each other. James is falling for Charlene but in the end he’ll marry Dorothea and Charlene will have her heart broken.
The story is pretty simple even though it seems a bit twisty. I really liked James as he was a bit of an ass but never to the women. He just wanted what he wanted and wasn’t about to get anything less and was a bit belligerent about having to act civilized when he really wasn’t. I loved that he adored Charlene’s unconventional attitude. She really was just herself – only dressed as a lady of the ton. She certainly didn’t act like it most of the time and that was a good thing.
James had a daughter, Flor, that Charlene bonded with during the course of the weekend. Charlene was a kind-hearted woman and she knew what it was like to grow up with her parents not being married. She was really good with Flor and that part of the story was really well written.
Now of course James doesn’t end up marrying Dorothea, as he fell in love with Charlene, but the way that comes about was pretty great. I won’t tell you as you’ll just have to read it for yourself but I found it to be a very satisfying conclusion to the story.
Rating: 4 out of 5