There may be times when a gentleman is desperate to gain a lady’s attention, but a gentleman would never resort to desperate measures to obtain it.
―A Proper Gentleman’s Guide to Wooing the Perfect Lady
Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn is guardian for his sweet, younger sister. Due to his misguided past as one of the infamous Rakes of St James, Hawk is hoping to avoid the Season by securing a match for her before it begins. He has the perfect gentleman in mind, but for one infuriating―and unexpectedly intoxicating―obstacle: the intended groom’s own sister, Miss Loretta Quick.
Having narrowly avoided her own arranged marriage to an unacceptable nobleman, Loretta is determined that her dear brother―a gentle, good-natured soul―should marry for love. Matching wits with Hawk may be her greatest challenge yet. . .until she realizes it may also be her greatest pleasure. For the young duke’s irresistible charm has not only begun to crumble her stubborn resolve, it has claimed her heart in true love as well. . .
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: To the Duke, With Love: The Rakes of St. James
Loretta Quick and her brother, Paxton, have been dependent on their uncle, the earl, since their parents died. When Loretta bailed at the last minute on an arranged marriage to a viscount, the earl was furious. He coerced her into making a solemn promise about her future, and banished her to his country estate, far away from society. Every request Loretta made to visit town or a friend has been soundly rejected by the earl, and after several years, she has come to terms with her lot in life. Though Paxton lives there as well, he regularly leaves to visit friends and spends time in town, at least, as much as his small allowance from the earl allows. Loretta is surprised when the Duke of Hawksthorn shows up at their remote home, requesting to see Paxton.
Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn, or Hawk, as he is familiarly known, is anxious to see his younger sister, Adele, settled into an engagement before she makes her come out. A decade ago, Hawk, and his two friends made a wager among themselves, which involved the twelve debutantes of that social season. No one else was to ever learn of it, but everything went south, and word leaked out. Now there is talk that someone with a long memory may be seeking revenge by causing trouble for Adele in retribution. Hawk feels that if Adele is securely engaged, she’ll be beyond the reach of the would-be-troublemaker, and he also feels that Paxton Quick is the perfect match for Adele. He sends correspondence to Paxton to set up a meeting date, and sets off to visit Paxton’s home, only to find him away visiting friends.
Loretta’s own experience with an arranged marriage ensures that she’s not a fan of Hawk’s plan. Though she will support Paxton’s decision, she plans to encourage him to hold out until he falls madly in love. Loretta has no qualms about telling Hawk how she feels, and he’s taken aback to be spoken to in that way. Surprisingly, he finds that he enjoys someone standing up to him, and not trying to earn his favor. A lame horse ensures that Hawk must spend the night, and he is quick to act on his attraction to Loretta, though he normally doesn’t trifle with innocents. Although Loretta succumbs to some steamy kisses, she’s not about to risk an affair with a known rake, and calls a halt. Hawk respects her decision, and concedes the battle, but not the war.
Paxton is willing to at least meet Adele, and consider the possibility of an engagement, though he will not commit himself just yet. As Paxton and Adele become further acquainted, Hawk uses every opportunity to spend time with Loretta, and to further his attempted seduction. When their intense attraction turns to love, Hawk finds that there is a serious roadblock to his marrying Loretta. This obstacle, and its resolution is out of the ordinary, and is something I don’t recall ever reading about in a romance novel. TO THE DUKE, WITH LOVE is an enjoyable read with a satisfying happily ever after. It is book Two of the Rakes of St. James series, but can easily be read as a standalone.