How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell (The Disgraceful Dukes #1)

Synopsis:

26029548“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?

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.

Review:

What a fun book! We have a kick-butt heroine, funny scenes, heart-rending moments, and a lovely HEA – what more could you want?

The good:

  • Charlene is strong, and has been taught jujutsu by a Japanese guard. She’s done her homework – I asked my husband (who’s done judo and aikido) about the techniques mentioned and they match up. And the particulars, like technique names, aren’t harped on too much either. Very nice.
  • Said guard, Kyuzo, is a native Japanese that was taken away from his village against his will. He’s been in England for something like 15 years now and his speech is perfect, colloquial English. No hint of accent or anything untoward – he’s acclimated to his new home, just like you’d expect after so long. (I can’t believe I’ve seen this as a negative in some reviews. Crazy.)
  • The plot revolves around a set of secrets, something that normally drives me mad. But instead of “oh no, he’s going to find out!” it was more like, “ooo, I wonder what he’ll do when he finds out!”
  • The writing is solid and assured, with hot love scenes and well-paced plot. I eagerly went to check Bell’s backlist and was surprised to see this is her debut – it doesn’t read like one!

The not-so-good:

  • There are still secrets. This is completely a me thing though – if you don’t mind secrets you’re going to eat this up.
  • Plot moppets, plural. Well, one and a half.
  • There’s a bit of damsel in distress, even though she’s such a strong character.
  • It’s not completely historically accurate. Now and then I’d think, “Wait, would that…?” I was enjoying myself so much I glossed over it. If you’re a stickler it’ll make you stickle.

A solid, enjoyable weekend read – I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

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