Congratulations to Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville on their new release, DANCING IN THE DUKE’S ARMS. Each story involves a duke and his path to finding love. I’m happy to say that every story is stellar, with unique characters and situations. It’s rare to find an anthology so jam packed with quality writing, but that’s what this one is, from beginning to end. My thoughts of each individual story and a brief synopsis is below. I highly recommend this one!
May I Have This Duke? by Grace Burrowes
Ellen MacHugh left her home and family years ago under a somewhat scandalous cloud, and went into service. The last three years have been working as governess for the Duke of Hardcastle’s nephew. Though she has come to love Christopher and her job, she has decided it’s time that she went home. The duke, Gerard, has just been coerced into attending a house party, where it’s expected that he’ll select a bride. As he informs Ellen that she and Christopher will be accompanying him to the party, Ellen give her notice that she will be leaving his employ immediately after. Because the duke has been harboring a secret attraction for Ellen, he can’t let her go, so he devises a scheme. He requests that he and Ellen act as if they are a couple in love – this will keep the other ladies from trying to lure him into marriage, and keep the gentlemen from trying to lure Ellen into their beds! Ellen agrees, tempted by a last chance to spend time and dance with Gerard before she leaves. It seems she has been hiding a secret attraction too.
I love this story! The duke is such an honorable, yet lonely man. As they spend time together at the party, he realizes that he can never let Ellen leave him. Yet, Ellen has another reason for wanting to return home, and aside from that, she won’t accept anything less than love. Winning his lady won’t be easy, but Gerard finds a solution, then stages a romantic scenario that is genuinely swoonworthy!
Waiting For a Duke Like You by Shana Galen
Princess Vivienne de Glynaven’s country has been taken over by revolutionaries, and everyone in her family has been murdered. Only she managed to hide, and then escape to England with the assassins hot on her trail. As she rests, exhausted and filthy, under a bridge, Nathan, the Duke of Wyndover, finds her. Amazingly, he recognizes the princess , as he met her years ago and was quite smitten. She, on the other hand, barely remembers him. He determines to keep her safe for now, and then obtain the king’s official protection for her.
The duke is said to be so blindingly gorgeous, that young ladies faint away at the sight of him. Yet, the princess barely remembers him. She also doesn’t usually associate with people prettier than she, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Vivienne accepts the duke’s offer of protection, which soon leads to more. Despite the seriousness of the assassinations, this is a light, sexy story guaranteed to give you several smiles.
Duchess of Scandal by Miranda Neville
Bentinck Travers, the Duke of Linton, was 30 when he decided to marry 18 year old Althea. After the honeymoon, things rapidly fell apart. The duke takes his responsibility very seriously, so he immediately went back to fulfilling his duties. This left Althea and her twin brother with plenty of time on their hands. Two young spirited 18 year olds who have never been to town before, began to live a partying lifestyle, with Althea paying her brother’s gambling debts. The more she partied, the more ducal Bentinck became. Soon, they apparently had nothing at all in common, and decided to live separately, scheduling their lives so they rarely crossed paths, and never inhabited the same house at the same time.
When Bentinck makes a mistake and shows up at one of his homes at the same time Althea is there, he is annoyed, and she is horrified. Althea decides to take the high road, and courteously asks Bentinck to join her for dinner. While they are somewhat awkward with each other, they are getting along cordially until Althea’s brother shows up with a low life friend. This is a more serious story of two people who made mistakes, couldn’t see the other’s point of view, and who gave up. Fate steps in to give them another opportunity. I love a second chance at love story, and enjoyed this one very much.
An Unsuitable Duchess by Carolyn Jewel
Stoke Teversault was a goner the minute he laid eyes on Georgina, but being a cautious man, he decided to wait before doing anything about it. As he was waiting, another man swept Georgina off her feet and into marriage. The marriage was happy, but brief, and Georgina is now a widow. Stoke helped her through the difficult times right after her husband died, but now that Georgina is emerging from her grief, Stoke has gone back to being the quiet, seemingly cold man who keeps her at a distance.
Georgina is surprised at herself for feeling desire for the aloof duke. It’s obvious that he feels nothing for her, or is it? Sometimes the lady has to take the initiative. Stoke is the kind of hero I adore – on the outside he appears cold, proud, and distant. But that’s really a defense mechanism, for on the inside, he’s seething with passion for Georgina. This is a wonderful story that I just enjoyed to pieces!