About the Book:
A fake engagement and plenty of charm keep the pages turning in this delightful Regency romance.
“I have come to ask you to kill me, my lord.”
Miss Abigail Abbott desperately needs to disappear, and the only person she trusts to help her do that is Lord Stephen Wentworth, heir to the Duke of Walden. Stephen is brilliant, charming, and—when he needs to be—absolutely ruthless. So ruthless, that, he proposes marriage instead of a pretense of murder, to keep Abigail safe.
Stephen knows that Abigail has the dignity and determination of a duchess and the courage of a lioness. When she accepts his courtship of convenience, he also discovers she kisses like his most intimate wish come true. For Abigail, their arrangement is a sham to escape her dangerous enemies. For Stephen, it’s his last, best hope to share a lifetime with the lady of his dreams—if he can convince her his love is real.
Stephen Wentworth is the brother of, and heir to, The Duke of Walden. This is a far cry from their childhood, which was a life of near starvation and abuse from a drunken lout of a father. This same father even intentionally crippled Stephen, thinking that he would appear more sympathetic as he was sent out on the streets to beg. Now nearing thirty, Stephen has all the wealth he needs, and his father is long dead. He has to walk with a cane, sometimes two, sometimes the pain incapacitates him for days. Stephen’s lifelong anger over his condition has caused him to take a liberal sexual path, constantly seeking pleasure, and becoming quite proficient as a lover.
Abigail Abbott has the unusual career of being an investigative agent, a vocation not common for women at the time. When she finds herself the prey of the schemes of a titled lord, she seeks the help of Stephen, who she knows from helping his sister with a case. Though she wants Stephen to make it appear she died, he insists on fighting Marquess Stapleton, the villain, openly. He suggests they fake a courtship, giving society the impression that Abigail is under the protection of the Wentworth family, including the duke. Truth be told, Stephen has been attracted to Abigail from the moment he met her, and is eager to aid her, as well as spend more time with her.
I’ve followed this Rogues-to-Riches series from the beginning, and I really loved the character of the Duke of Walden, but I became more intrigued with each glimpse of his complicated brother, Stephen, and anxiously looked forward to his story. I’ve always been “hero-centric” in my reading, meaning I’m more interested in the male lead, and I ended up with mixed feelings about Stephen. First of all, the good – he’s brilliant, he’s charming, he’s generous, and he wants no one’s pity. He also has a dark side. As a child, he made a soul wrenching decision which left a stain on his soul. His anger with his own physical limitation has caused him to irrationally resent his brother. He also chose a path of sexual exploration which did not discriminate based on marital status or sex. Despite his jadedness, I believe that he truly fell for Abigail, quickly and deeply. Abigail, too, has a past, though it’s very tame compared to Stephen’s. I appreciated their willingness to be accepting of each other without judgment, though their attitudes seemed very modern. Some of Stephen’s past affairs, as well as many of his comments about bondage and spanking seemed jarring, and almost gratuitous, as I don’t feel they really were pertinent. Still, a lovely genuine romance develops between the couple, one that is strong enough for them both to put aside their doubts and plan a future together. One of the most emotional moments for me was a touching meeting between Stephen and the duke, where they finally have a long overdue conversation and embrace. There is an event which unfolds near the end that I really didn’t see coming, one that explains why the Marquess had Abigail in his sights. I finished HOW TO CATCH A DUKE hoping that Stephen had it within himself to keep his promise of faithfulness and that he and Abigail truly have a happy ever after. I recommend this book for fans of Grace Burrowes, as I am, with the caveat to be prepared for a different, somewhat grittier story. ~Rose