The Duke Next Door (Heiress Brides, #2) by Celeste Bradley
Series: The Heiress Brides #2
Also in this series: Desperately Seeking A Duke, Duke Most Wanted (Heiress Brides, #3)
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Genres: Historical Romance
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The dangerously beautiful Deirdre Cantor is determined to inherit her grandfather’s vast fortune. All she needs is to marry a duke…and be the first granddaughter to walk down the aisle. After all, she has always dreamed of becoming a member of the haute ton. So when the proper Calder Marbrook, the Marquis of Brookhaven and future Duke of Brookmoor, is abandoned at the altar, Deirdre makes it her business to become his wife—in spite of the whispers about his past.
Soon Deirdre’s visions of a lavish existence with the handsome Calder are shattered when she learns his shocking secret. Feeling betrayed, Deirdre seeks revenge by playing a perilous and seductive game of cat and mouse with her husband that threatens to drive them both to the heights of passion. She will not surrender to him, no matter how great her desire. But at what cost? Calder is determined to keep his secret under lock and key—and to make his stunning wife his in every way that matters. Even if it means winning her heart all over again…
For me, this was a vast improvement over Desperately Seeking a Duke. This was more believeable, for one thing. It was also more like what I’ve come to expect when I pick a book up by Celeste Bradley.
I’m always somewhat fascinated when an author takes a character that has previously been so un-likeable and actually makes said character likeable. That’s how Deirdre was for me. I didn’t like her in Desperately Seeking a Duke. She seemed like an opportunistic, social climbing airhead. Though you get an inkling at the end of the book that there is more to Deirdre than meets the eye, it’s still was not quite enough to have me believing that she would be a good heroine.
When Sophie breaks her engagement with Calder Marbrook, the Marquis of Brookhaven, Deirdre sees it as her opportunity to marry the man that she loves. Yes, loves. Though the fact that he is next in line to the dukedom is a nice bonus, Deirdre has loved Calder from afar for years. When he proposed to Sophie, Deirdre was heartbroken and barely able to standby and keep her silence. I think it was at that point that my opinion about Deirdre completely changed. The fact that she didn’t try to interfere in any way between Sophie and Calder spoke volumes about her character.
Deirdre learns rather early on that Calder has been keeping a secret. A big one. It isn’t until after their wedding that she learns that Calder has a daughter. Deirdre is appalled that Calder would actually expect her to be a mother to a child that she had no idea existed. When she realizes that she’s treating eight year old Meggie exactly as Tessa (the evil stepmother) treated her as a child, Deirdre decides that she can only try to make the best of an impossible situation.
Though Deirdre endeared herself time and time again with how she dealt with Meggie, her childishness still came through here and there. Though never really trying to make Calder jealous, she continued to have her former suitors visit. It’s one of her former suitors that becomes obsessed with Deirdre and convinced that she really wants to be free of the Marquis of Brookhaven. Helping matters along is one of the solicitors that is managing Deirdre’s grandfather’s fortune. You’ll remember that this is one of the solicitor’s that kidnapped Rafe in Desperately Seeking a Duke.
The suspense element in this book was much more believeable. An obsessive lovestruck suitor. A jealous husband. Given Calder’s past with his wife running away with another man, he obviously jumps to the wrong conclusion about Deirdre and the poet (for the life of me, I can’t remember his name). What could have become tedious, didn’t because it didn’t take Calder long to realize that he was wrong. Of course then it’s almost too late when he comes to that realization.
The ending was fitting. I am really looking forward to reading the third and final installment in this trilogy. I think historical lovers should really enjoy this series.
4 out of 5.