ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES Author: Grace Burrowes
Series: Windham Brides, #1 On Sale: December 20, 2016
Publisher: Forever Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $6.99 USD Add to Goodreads
This first novel in a new Regency series from USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes is a spinoff of her highly popular Windham series.
THEY CALL HIM THE DUKE OF MURDER…
The gossips whisper that the new Duke of Murdoch is a brute, a murderer, and even worse—a Scot. They say he should never be trusted alone with a woman. But Megan Windham sees in Hamish something different, someone different.
No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he’ll take on any challenge—even letting their friend Miss Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn’t the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she’s fighting battles of her own. For her, he’ll become the warrior once more, and for her, he might just lose his heart.
AUTHORS LOVE THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES!
“The hero of THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES reminds me of Mary Balogh’s charming men, and the heroine brings to mind Sarah MacLean’s intelligent, fiery women… This is a wonderfully funny, moving romance, not to be missed!” —Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author of My American Duchess
“Grace Burrowes writes from the heart–with warmth, humor, and a generous dash of sensuality, her stories are unputdownable! If you’re not reading Grace Burrowes you’re missing the very best in today’s Regency Romance!” —Elizabeth Hoyt, New York Times bestselling author
“Sexy heroes, strong heroines, intelligent plots, enchanting love stories…Grace Burrowes’s romances have them all.” —Mary Balogh, New York Times bestselling author
“THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES has everything Grace Burrowes’s many fans have come to adore: a swoonworthy hero, a strong heroine, humor, and passion. Her characters not only know their own hearts, but share them with fearless joy. Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure.” —Tessa Dare, New York Times bestselling author
“THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES is captivating! It has everything I love in a book–a sexy Scotsman, a charming heroine, witty banter, plenty of humor, and lots of heart.” —Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
The Trouble With Dukes, #1
Too Scot To Handle, #2
5 Questions for Grace Burrowes
I’m honored to welcome Grace Burrowes to Roses Are Blue today to answer five burning questions:
- Which of your characters was the most difficult to write or gave you the most problems?
I suspect you have heard me bellyaching lately about a certain Welsh duke. Julian, Duke of Haverford, is the hero for my third Windham Bride, and this guy… I finally figured out that the way he was treating me—he was always too busy tending to some duke-ly duty to give me any scenes—was how he went through life. His Grace and I wrestled for the duration of an entire book, but we’re friends now… until revisions hit.
- Which of your own characters would you like to meet?
Hamish, Duke of Murdoch. If I can’t meet him, then can I please, please, please just hear his lovely Scottish voice? (And actually, I can, because there is a positively scrumptious audiobook version of The Trouble with Dukes coming out the same day as the print and ebook.)
- Did one of your own books ever make you cry?
A lot of them do, and it’s often not the big black moment that sends me pelting for the tissues. The scenes that get to me are usually scenes between estranged siblings, or other family members that have been at the outs. Often, part of stepping up to the plate for an HEA is getting things right with your family and friends. When I see a character do that, or try to do that, I know he or she will find the courage to reach for the brass ring of a lasting intimate attachment. And then there are the scenes where hero and heroine come through for each other. I love those, but they can make my very teary.
- Do you prefer to write about ordinary people, or nobility (titled gents)?
Honestly, there ought not to be a whole lot of difference. We have the same needs and hearts, regardless of station. I am drawn to more aristocratic historical characters because they in many ways had less freedom than people in other walks of life, and because I know them better as a function of where historical romance has been as I’ve read it for the past forty years. I tend to write large casts—I’m from a big family—and thus all kinds of people show up on the page (also horses, dogs, cats…).
- What’s your favorite period in history to write and to read?
I don’t have one. When I go to the UK, I’m as fascinated by Scara Brae, the Neolithic village on Orkney, as I am by the Duke of Wellington’s town house. I do think the Regency period resonates strongly with the present day, particularly for women. After a long period of expanding freedoms and rising influence, the end of the Napoleonic wars saw a retrenching of women’s roles, until the heavily corseted, entirely a-sexual, “angel of the hearth,” became the ideal role for women in the eyes of many Victorians. The Regency woman could look back to her grandmother’s day, when evening attire might expose a woman’s breasts with no breach of propriety, and also peer forward to what her daughter faced, a world where midwives were pushed out of birthing rooms in favor of disease-spreading male physicians. Interesting times!
Thank you, Grace, for taking the time for this mini interview!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania and is the sixth out of seven children. She discovered romance novels when in junior high (back when there was such a thing), and has been reading them voraciously ever since. Grace has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a bachelor of music in music history, (both from Pennsylvania State University); a master’s degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University; and a juris doctor from the National Law Center at the George Washington University.
Grace writes Georgian, Regency, Scottish Victorian, and contemporary romances in both novella and novel lengths. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, and enjoys giving workshops and speaking at writers’ conferences. She also loves to hear from her readers, and can be reached through her website or her social channels.
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“I don’t want any damned dukedom, Mr. Anderson,” Hamish MacHugh said softly.
Colin MacHugh took to studying the door to Neville Anderson’s office, for when Hamish spoke that quietly, his siblings knew to locate the exits.
The solicitor’s establishment boasted deep Turkey carpets, oak furniture, and red velvet curtains. The standish and ink bottles on Anderson’s desk were silver, the blotter a thick morocco leather. Portraits of well-fed, well-powdered Englishmen adorned the walls.
Hamish felt as if he’d walked into an ambush, as if these old lords and knights were smirking down at the fool who’d blundered into their midst. Beyond the office walls, harnesses jingled to the tune of London happily about its business, while Hamish’s heart beat with a silent tattoo of dread.
“I am at your grace’s service,” Anderson murmured, from his side of the massive desk, “and eager to hear any explanations your grace cares to bestow.”
The solicitor, who’d been retained by Hamish’s late grandfather decades before Hamish’s birth, was like a midge. Swat at Anderson, curse him, wave him off, threaten flame and riot, and he still hovered nearby, relentlessly annoying.
The French infantry had had the same qualities.
“I am not a bloody your grace,” Hamish said. Thanks be to the clemency of the Almighty.
“I do beg your grace’s—your pardon,” Anderson replied, soft white hands folded on his blotter. “Your great-great aunt Minerva married the third son of the fifth Duke of Murdoch and Tingley, and while the English dukedom must, regrettably fall prey to escheat, the Scottish portion of the title, due to the more, er, liberal patents common to Scottish nobility, devolves to yourself.”
Devolving was one of those English undertakings that prettied up a load of shite.
Hamish rose, and for reasons known only to the English, Anderson popped to his feet as well.
“Devolve the peregrinating title to some other poor sod,” Hamish said.
Colin’s staring match with the lintel of Anderson’s door had acquired the quality of man trying to hold in a fart—or laughter.
“I am sorry, your—sir,” Anderson said, looking about as sorry as Hamish’s sisters on the way to the milliner’s, “but titles land where they please, and there they stay. The only way out from under a title is death, and then your brother here would become duke in your place.”
Colin’s smirk winked out like a candle in a gale. “What if I die?”
“I believe there are several younger siblings,” Anderson said, “should death befall you both.”
“But this title is Hamish’s as long as he’s alive, right?” Colin was not quite as large as Hamish. What little Colin lacked in height, he made up for in brawn and speed.
“That is correct,” Anderson said, beaming like headmaster when a dull scholar had finally grasped his first Latin conjugation. “In the normal course, a celebratory tot would be in order, gentlemen. The title does bring responsibilities, but your great-great aunt and her late daughter were excellent businesswomen. I’m delighted to tell you that the Murdoch holdings prosper.”
Worse and worse. The gleeful wiggle of Anderson’s eyebrows meant prosper translated into “made a stinking lot of money, much of which would find its way into a solicitor’s greedy English paws.”
“If my damned lands prosper, my bachelorhood is doomed,” Hamish muttered. Directly behind Anderson’s desk hung a picture of some duke, and the old fellow’s sour expression spoke eloquently to the disposition a title bestowed on its victim. “I’d sooner face old Boney’s guns again than be landed, titled, wealthy, and unwed at the beginning of London season. Colin, we’re for home by week’s end.”
“Fine notion,” Colin said. “Except Edana will kill you and Rhona will bury what’s left of you. Then the title will hang about my neck, and I’ll have to dig you up and kill you all over again.”
Siblings were God’s joke on a peace-loving man. Anderson had retreated behind his desk, as if a mere half ton of oak could protect a puny English solicitor from a pair of brawling MacHughs.
Clever solicitors might be, canny they were not.
“Then we simply tell no one about this title,” Hamish said. “We tend to Eddie and Ronnie’s dress shopping, and then we’re away home, nobody the wiser.”
Dress shopping, Edana had said, as if the only place in the world to procure fashionable clothing was London. She’d cried, she’d raged, she’d threatened to run off—until Colin had saddled her horse and stuffed the saddle bags with provisions.
Then she’d threatened to become an old maid, haunting her brothers’ households in turn, and Hamish, on pain of death from his younger brothers, had ordered the traveling coach into service.
“Eddie hasn’t found a man yet, and neither has Ronnie,” Colin observed. “They’ve been here less than two weeks. We can’t go home.”
“You can’t,” Hamish countered. “I’m the duke. I must see to my properties. I’ll be halfway to Yorkshire by tomorrow. I doubt Eddie and Ronnie will content themselves with Englishmen, but they’re welcome to torment a few in my absence. A bored woman is a dangerous creature.”
“You’d leave tomorrow?” Colin slugged Hamish on the arm, hard. Anderson flinched, while Hamish picked up his walking stick and headed for the door.
“Your pugilism needs work, little brother. I’ve neglected your education.”
“You can’t leave me alone here with Eddie and Ronnie.” Colin had switched to the Gaelic, a fine language for keeping family business from nosy solicitors. “I’m only one man, and there’s two of them. They’ll be making ropes of the bedsheets, selling your good cigars to other young ladies again, and investigating the charms of the damned Englishmen mincing about in the park. Who knows what other titles their indiscriminate choice of husband might inflict on your grandchildren.”
Hamish had not objected to the cigar selling scheme. He’d objected to his sisters stealing from him rather than sharing the proceeds with their own dear brother. He also objected to the notion of grandchildren when he’d yet to take a wife.
“I’ll blame you if we end up with English brothers-in-law, wee Colin.” Hamish smiled evilly, though he counted a particular few Englishmen among his friends.
A staring match ensued, with Colin trying to look fierce—he had the family red hair and blue eyes, after all—and mostly looking worried. Colin was soft-hearted where the ladies were concerned, and that fact was all that cheered Hamish on an otherwise daunting morning.
Hope rose, like the clarion call of the pipes through the smoke and noise the battlefield: While Eddie and Ronnie inspected the English peacocks strutting about Mayfair, Hamish might find a peahen willing to take advantage of Colin’s affectionate nature.
Given Colin’s lusty inclinations, the union would be productive inside a year, and the whole sorry business of a ducal succession would be taken care of.
Hamish’s fist connected with his brother’s shoulder, sending Colin staggering back a few steps, muttering in Gaelic about goats and testicles.
“I’ll bide here in the muck pit of civilization,” Hamish said, in English, “until Eddie and Ronnie have their fripperies, but Anderson, I’m warning you. Nobody is to learn of this dukedom business. Not a soul, or I’ll know which English solicitor needs to make St. Peter’s acquaintance posthaste. Ye ken?”
Anderson nodded, his gaze fixed on Hamish’s right hand. “You will receive correspondence, sir.”
Hamish’s hand hurt and his head was starting to throb. “Try being honest, man. I was in the army. I know all about correspondence. By correspondence, you mean a bloody snowstorm of paper, official documents, and sealed instruments.”
Hamish knew about death too, and about sorrow. The part of him hoping to marry Colin off in the next month—and Eddie and Ronnie too—grappled with the vast sorrow of homesickness, and the unease of remaining for even another day among the scented dandies and false smiles of polite society.
“Very good, your grace. Of course you’re right. A snowstorm, some of which will be from the College of Arms, some from your peers, some of condolence, all of which my office would be happy—”
Hamish waved Anderson to silence, and as if Hamish were one of those Hindoo snake pipers, the solicitor’s gaze followed the motion of his hand.
“The official documents can’t be helped,” Hamish said, “but letters of condolence needn’t concern anybody. You’re not to say a word,” he reminded Anderson. “Not a peep, not a yes-your-grace, not a hint of an insinuation is to pass your lips.”
Anderson was still nodding vigorously when Hamish shoved Colin through the door.
Though, of course, the news was all over Town by morning.
Megan Windham is in a sorry situation indeed. It’s bad enough that her first romance was with a cad who only used and then rejected her, but now she is being blackmailed. If she doesn’t consent to marry Sir Fletcher Pilkington, he will expose her indiscretion, thus ruining her and bringing shame to her family. While Pilkington has no feelings for Megan, the cruel man desperately wants her dowry. He is getting impatient with Megan’s excuses and delays, and decides to put the pressure on. As he begins to bully Megan in a public place, Hamish MacHugh steps in to intervene.
Hamish has just inherited a dukedom. After years of fighting, the last thing he wants is the responsibility of being the Duke of Murdoch. He longs to be home in Scotland, but he’s here in London, escorting his sisters as they enjoy the social whirl. Hamish is familiar with Pilkington, and some of his actions during the war, so he’s quick to come to Megan’s aid. During his stint at being a soldier, Hamish fought fiercely and gained a reputation for brutality. There are even some who call him the Duke of Murder.
Megan doesn’t see very well, at all, but she can see that Hamish is not the brutal man some are calling him. She treats him with respect and courtesy, and shows him kindness that few others in town have. Despite his reluctance, Hamish soon finds himself taking dancing lessons from Megan. The big, rough-around-the-edges duke and the gentle aristocratic lady seem to have found a mutual liking for each other and become friends. Soon, Megan confides her problem with Pilkington. Hamish truly knows the kind of person he is, and is adamant that Megan can’t possibly be forced into marriage with him. As Hamish works at being Megan’s hero, a romance develops between the seemingly unlikely couple.
I love Hamish and Megan individually, and as a couple. Megan did not pre-judge him, based on rumors. She saw beneath his rough exterior to the heart of gold underneath. Hamish endured a lot while he was a soldier, and most of what is said of him is greatly exaggerated and based on false assumptions. He shows himself to be Megan’s hero, and she, his heroine. Their love was sweet, warm, and passionate. Author Grace Burrowes skillfully added many beloved characters from the original Windham books, as Megan is cousin to Gayle, Devlin, and Val. The family interaction is one of Grace Burrowes’ strength, and that only ramped up my enjoyment of this book even more. THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES has everything I enjoy in a story – emotion, warmth, passion, subtle humor, and strong characters. I sat down with this one and didn’t put it down until several hours later when I had finished it. Highly recommended.
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