The Disgraceful Dukes #1
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.
How the Duke Was Won is a gem of a historical romance, making us swoon and laugh our way through James and Charlene's matrimonial journey until we regrettably find ourselves turning the last page.
Romances involving a mistaken identity can often be a source of stress, causing us to be so focused on the impending reveal that it's hard to get caught up in the fledgling relationship, but Ms. Bell makes this familiar trope work oh-so well. Instead of posing as her half-sister for some sort of revenge or spy-based plot, Charlene simply seeks the financial means to save herself and her sister from the courtesan life awaiting them thanks to their mother. She bears no ill-will toward James, nor is she interested in keeping tabs on him to uncover his darkest secrets and blackmail him, he's simply a job for her and one she plans to execute to the best of her ability.
Of course things become infinitely more complicated the more time they spend together, Charlene finding in him someone she never expected in a wealthy duke with a terrible reputation. Their interactions bring both a smile to our lips and heat to our cheeks, Charlene often struggling to impersonate the epitome of refinement and Societal elegance and instead slipping and calling things as she sees them. Her fellow competitors for the title of duchess also add a great deal of humor to this story, with one in particular standing out so much that we can't help but hope she gets her own book in the not-too distant future.
Overall, How the Duke Was Won is engaging from beginning to end, the perfect blend of chemistry, intimacy, and emotional connection with a side of cute banter and laugh out loud moments.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.