Series: Unlikely Duchesses

Guest Review: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake

Posted January 29, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia DrakeReviewer: Tracy
The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake
Series: Unlikely Duchesses #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: December 31, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

When two childhood sweethearts find themselves together after years apart, does their romance have a chance to be rekindled now that he’s a duke and she’s a governess? Olivia Drake’s new Unlikely Duchesses series begins with The Duke I Once Knew, where first love is always the sweetest...

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her parents and her siblings’ children. Now, eager to create a life of her own, Abby seizes upon a position as a governess on a neighboring estate. Unfortunately, her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the notorious rake who once broke her youthful heart. But since he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years, Abby assumes she’ll never have to lay eyes on him ever again. Then, from out of nowhere, Max appears. He is stunned to come face to face with the girl next door he fell for years ago—before he went away, and she stopped writing to him. . .even though Abby swears that he is the one who left her without a word. Could it be that this spirited, witty spinster has won Max’s heart all over again—and that they may have a second chance at love?

Abby and Max were once in love. Abby was 15 and Max just 16 years old.  Unfortunately, after the death of Max’s mother, his father took Max and his sister to live in London.  It’s been 15 years and Max only came back for a very short time to bury his father. Abby though they’d be together forever but since she wrote multiple times and received no reply she got on with her life.

Abby is the youngest of 5 siblings. They were all older and out of the house by the time she was born and it was her pleasure and duty to take care of her aging parents.  She loved them to pieces!  Now that they’re gone, her siblings are all gathered to decide who Abby should live with – basically planning her life.  Abby isn’t having it.  She was happy to take care of her parents but she’s now 30 years old and knows that she’ll never have a husband or family.  It hurts that she can’t control that, but there is something she can control – where she lives.  She heads to the estate next door and applies for the job of governess to Max’s younger sister, Gwen, and gets the position.  She has no fear of Max showing up because he hasn’t been there in 15 years. Of course, he shows up.

Max is on his way to a friends house so that is pugilist champion can have a match with America’s champion.  Unfortunately when they arrive at the friend’s estate they discover that all of the servants have the measles.  Since Max’s estate is so nearby, they decide to stay there.  Max isn’t thrilled to see Abby as he doesn’t have fond memories from 15 years ago. He also wanted to seduce a woman he’d brought with him but he suddenly is only interested in Abby.  The pair soon start to talk and discover a few things about their past.  The question is, can those revelations make a difference for their future?

While I always find Drake’s books enjoyable, this one wasn’t my favorite.  From the moment that the letters are mentioned I knew immediately what had happened.  Despite this misunderstanding there wasn’t much angst except on Max’ part. I felt his reasons for not falling in love again were weak, but maybe that’s just me.  The story was more to the tune of Max and Abby getting to know one another again and rekindling the love they once shared.  It was cute but pretty basic.

Overall a decent read but nothing I haven’t read before.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Unlikely Duchesses

three-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake

Posted December 23, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I love Reunited Lover stories. I’ve read several books by Olivia Drake in the past and look forward to this one very much.

Sunday Spotlight: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia DrakeThe Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses, #1) by Olivia Drake
Series: Unlikely Duchesses #1
Also in this series: The Duke I Once Knew
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 31, 2018
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: three-stars


First love is always the sweetest.

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her aging parents and the children of her siblings. Now, eager to make her own life, she takes a position as governess on the neighboring estate. It shouldn’t matter that her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the infamous rake who once broke her youthful heart. Surely he’s forgotten her, for he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years. At least, that is, until he arrives unexpectedly.

Max is incensed to meet his sister’s new governess. But why does Abby appear just as displeased to see him when it was she who’d rejected him all those years ago? Why is he so drawn to the independent spinster she has become? And why is there a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes that suggests they might have a second chance at love?

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Excerpt

The sounds of cooing and kissing mortified her. Good heavens, would they never stop? Anyone might walk into the library! They ought to have the decency to take their amorous activities upstairs to a bedchamber.

But, of course, Rothwell did not possess a shred of decency. It made her cringe to recall that she herself had once fallen prey to his allure.

She risked another look over the edge of the table. Her eyes goggled.

The duke was delving beneath the hem of his paramour’s gown, sliding his hand up her ankle and out of sight. The ladybird squirmed and squealed in a frisky attempt at evasion. He leaned down and silenced her playful protests with a masterful kiss.

Abby sank back down again. Her pulse pounded and a blush heated her inside and out. She oughtn’t be so scandalized. Rothwell had a reputation as a notorious rake. Over the years, she had heard many a tale whispered among the neighbors of his disgraceful doings.

Yet it was one thing to listen to idle gossip and quite another to actually witness him in the throes of depravity.

And here she was, trapped. What was she to do?

If she made her presence known, the duke would find out that Miss Abigail Linton was the new governess. She could not be absolutely certain that he had forgotten her. And if he did remember, he surely would dismiss her on the spot, for he wanted nothing to do with her.

Her spirits fell into a fit of the dismals. That would mark the end of her little adventure out into the world. Oh, she could apply for a position elsewhere, but who would hire her if she’d been summarily discharged from her previous post? She would be forced to return to her brother’s house and resume her predictable life as the maiden aunt, growing withered and gray, shuttled between relatives, with no real say in her future.

The very thought was suffocating.

Nevertheless, she could not continue to crouch here while the two lovers were smooching and whispering. What if their intimate activities escalated? What if they did the deed right here, right now?

The horrid prospect spurred Abby to action. She must try to sneak out of the library unobserved. It was her only hope.

Dropping to her hands and knees, she crept along the carpet, weaving a path between the tables. Her long skirts hampered her progress, forcing her to inch along at a snail’s pace. Rothwell’s black boots were visible through a forest of chair legs. At least he was too distracted to notice her, judging by the amorous sounds emanating from across the room. To be safe, she made a wide berth around the couple. Feverish plans raced through her head. If only she could reach the door and slip out, then all might be well. Perhaps she could convince Lady Gwendolyn not to mention the new governess to her brother. And what of Lady Hester? Was there a chance that she could be persuaded to bide her tongue, too? Should Abby confess the truth and enlist her help? Was it possible to stay out of sight until he departed the Court?

Sweet heaven, how long did he intend to stay?

In the midst of her meditations, she couldn’t help overhearing the syrupy drivel of their tête-à-tête.

“Your Grace, you are too bold! Such a naughty boy you are!”

“I left boyhood behind long ago. Shall I demonstrate?”

“Mm, no. You mustn’t . . . ah, yes. Yes!”

Abby grimaced under a tide of acute embarrassment. As she crawled closer to the door, she glared in the direction of the lovers. She could just see Rothwell’s legs pressed against a froth of cream skirts. Blast him and his debauchery! He was the worst of rogues, the king of scoundrels. A more wicked man had never been born—! Too caught up in remonstrations to watch where she was going, Abby bumped her hip hard against a mahogany pedestal. A little squeak escaped before she could clap her hand to her mouth. At the same instant, a faint clanking noise drew her attention upward.

The globe atop the pedestal wobbled precariously. As she watched in horror, the sphere toppled from its perch and clunked onto the floor, where it rolled straight past the chairs and tables to land at Rothwell’s heels.

“What the devil—!”

Frozen in concealment, Abby watched wide-eyed through the maze of table legs as his boots shifted around. A large male hand flashed down to stop the spinning of the globe. Any faint hope that he might assume it had fallen of its own accord vanished in a millisecond.

Rothwell strode forward, his footfalls sharp and decisive. He came straight to her. To her great consternation, she found herself gazing at the polished black leather of his boots only a few inches away.

“Who are you?” he demanded. “What are you doing in here?”

Abby raised her chin only slightly, keeping her face averted. It was best that he didn’t gaze fully at her — or hear the normal pitch of her voice lest it trigger his memory. “I’m just a servant,” she whispered, “tending to my duties.”

“Speak up! Why did you not make your presence known at once?”

His dictatorial tone shredded her better judgment. “I was trying to leave discreetly,” she flared. “It didn’t strike me as wise to interrupt your tryst.” She paused, then added in a more servile tone, “I do beg your pardon, Your Grace.” She felt his gaze boring down like a physical force that threatened to smother her. She wanted badly to look up, to glare into his face and tell him in no uncertain terms exactly what she thought of him.

But that would be highly imprudent.

With lightning swiftness, he clamped his hands around her upper arms and hauled Abby to her feet. She found herself staring up into a pair of wintry gray eyes set in a face of unabashed masculinity. Although a dissipated life had hardened his expression and etched faint lines on either side of his mouth, he was more disturbingly handsome than ever. He also seemed taller and tougher, his chest broader and his shoulders wider.

She hated that he still had the power to make the breath catch in her throat. Worse, she hated that he had the authority to dismiss her with a snap of his arrogant fingers. As she racked her beleaguered brain for a way to convince him not to do so, something flickered in those icy eyes.

“Abby?”

Unlikely Duchesses

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: December 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Olivia Drake

Shortly after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism, Olivia Drake sold her first novel two weeks after sending it to a publisher. She now lives in Texas in a cozy cottage with a feisty cat, a loving husband, and two wonderful daughters who still come back whenever they want a home-cooked meal.

Many of you already know Olivia as Barbara Dawson Smith, author of 24 historical romance novels. She is a New York Times bestseller and winner of numerous honors, including the Golden Heart Award and the coveted Rita Award for excellence in the historical romance genre.


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