From the blurb:
Even in London society—where everyone knows what you did last season—you never know who’s next in line to walk down the aisle…
TRUE LOVE IS OFTEN FOUND
With her whirlwind social life in London, Lady Isabella Wharton has little interest in the customs of the country. But when her godmother asks her to pay a visit to her bachelor grandson in Yorkshire, Isabella can’t refuse. It behooves her to please the old dowager, since she harbors one of Isabella’s most scandalous secrets. So off she goes to see the newly-titled—and notoriously rustic—Duke of Ormond…
WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT
Trevor Carey doesn’t care about what goes on behind ballroom doors. He is content with the simple life—and isn’t ashamed to admit it to a society flirt like Lady Isabella. But the country air brings out a different side of Isabella—one full of longing and passion. Can her sophistication be hiding a desire for love? When a blackmailer from the city arrives to threaten Isabella, Trevor will shield her from harm—even travel to London. Can the duke tackle the ton on Isabella’s behalf …and manage to keep her all to himself?
I requested this title to review from NetGalley because the title intrigued me, the blurb promised a well-written book with an air of mystery, and the cover is so lusciously romantic.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
The characters are well drawn and likeable. Isabella is strong and courageous, and although she is vulnerable due to the legacy of her first husband, who abused her, she is no cowed woman, and I really liked that in her. Trevor is a man of principle, very attractive for his decency as lord and magistrate in his area and in his role as guardian for his two younger sisters. He is chivalrous and has a delightfully masterful edge.
The story is compelling, with enough mystery and drama to keep you turning the pages until the very end. It feels realistic enough for the time, and the twist at the end is both surprising and strangely moving.
For me, though, what really stands out in the book is the quality of the writing. Manda Collins is an excellent writer who expertly writes in the historical fiction style, with plenty of old-fashioned terminology and phrasing included without becoming burdensome for the reader. I especially loved her flashes of wit among the more serious and poetic writing:
Tonight, she was wearing what he secretly referred to as a gut puncher, for the feeling it inspired in him. The gown was a bluish green, the shade of a robin’s egg. it was cool and elegant and hugged her every delicious curve.
“I was unlucky enough to meet the fellow at the tavern on the night he arrived. A more perfect example of a ‘toadeater’ I don’t believe I’ll ever meet.”
Only Belinda was content to eat her luncheon without weighing in on the conversation. Though Trevor thought he noticed a judgmental tone in the way she consumed her peas.
Overall, a book I heartily recommend as a passionate, lively, well-crafted novel.
Why Dukes Say I Do is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.