MY FAIR DUCHESS
In Megan Frampton’s most recent installment of The Dukes Behaving Badly series, an unexpected duchess proves that behaving badly isn’t exclusive to the Dukedom.
Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?
It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of her depth, she calls on an expert. And what an expert, with shoulders broad enough to lean on, and a wit that matches her own. Archie is supposed to teach her to be a lady and run her estate, but what she really wants to do is unladylike—run into his arms.
Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge
earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband
and son. You can visit her on her website, @meganf, and at Facebook.
Read an Excerpt:
1845, Lady Sophia’s Drawing Room
“There’s only one solution,” Lady Sophia said, passing the letter to Archie as he felt his stomach drop. And his carefully ordered life teeter on the verge of change. “You’ll have to go to London to sort my goddaughter out.” She embellished her point by squeezing her tiny dog Truffles, who emitted a squeak and glared at Archie. As if it was his fault.
He resisted the urge to crumple the paper in his hand. “But the festival is in a few weeks,” Archie said, hearing the desperate tone in his voice. He did not want to ever return to London. That was the purpose of taking a position out here in the country after leaving the Queen’s Own Hussars a year prior. His family was there, and his father, at least, had made it clear he never wanted to see him again. What’s more, he did not want to assist a helpless aristocrat in some sort of desperate attempt to bring order to their lives. Even though that was what he was doing in Lady Sophia’s employ. But working for her had come to have its own kind of satisfactory order, one he did not want to disrupt.
“There is work to be done,” Archie continued, hoping to appeal to his employer’s sensible side.
Although in the course of working for her he had come to realize his employer didn’t really have a sensible side, so what was he hoping to accomplish?
“Didn’t you tell me Mr. McCready could do everything you could?” Lady Sophia asked. “You pointed out that if you were to get ill, or busy with other matters, your assistant steward could handle things just as well as you.”
That was when I was trying to get one of my men work, Archie thought in frustration. To help him get back on his feet after the rigors of war. And Bob had proven himself to be a remarkably able assistant, allowing Archie to dive into Lady Sophia’s woefully neglected accounts and see into her investments, neither of which she paid any attention to.
Lady Sophia placed Truffles on the rug before lifting her head to look at Archie. Who knew, in that moment, that he was doomed. Doomed to return to London to help out a likely far-too- indulged female in the very difficult position of being a powerful and wealthy aristocrat.
Perhaps it would have been easier to just get shot on the battlefield. It certainly would have been quicker.
“It’s settled.” She punctuated her words with a nod of her head, sending a few gray curls flying in the air. “You will go see to the new duchess and take care of her as ably as you do me. Mr. Mc-Cready will assist me while you are away.”
Archie looked at the letter again. “This duchess is your relative?” he asked. That would explain the new duchess’s equally silly mode of communication. An “unexpected duchess,” indeed. What kind of idiot wouldn’t have foreseen this circumstance? And done something to prepare for it?
“She calls me aunt, but she is not my actual niece, you understand,” Lady Sophia explained. “She is my goddaughter; her mother married the duke, the duchess’s father. It is quite unusual for a woman to inherit the duchy.”
“Quite,” Archie echoed.
“But it happened, somehow, and since I don’t know anything about being a duchess . . .” Because I do? Archie wondered. But there wasn’t anybody else. She wouldn’t have asked Lady Sophia, of all people, unless there was nobody else.
Or if she was as flighty and confident as her faux-aunt. A scenario that seemed more and more likely.
“The only thing Mr. McCready can’t do is attract as much feminine interest as you do, Mr. Salisbury.” She sat back up and regarded him. “Which might make him more productive,” she added. She leaned over to offer Truffles the end of her biscuit.
Archie opened his mouth to object, but closed it when he realized she was right. He wasn’t vain, but he did recognize that ladies tended to find his appearance attractive. Lady Sophia received many more visitors, she’d told him in an irritated tone, now that he’d been hired.
Bob, damn his eyes, smirked knowingly every time Archie was summoned to Lady Sophia’s drawing room to answer yet another question about estate management posed by a lady who’d likely never had such a question in her life.
Archie responded by making Bob personally in charge of the fertilizer. It didn’t stop Bob’s smirking, but it did make Archie feel better.
“And you will return in a month’s time so you can be here for the festival.”
“Sooner if I can, my lady.” If this duchess needed more time than a month, there would be no hope for her anyway. Country life suited him; he liked its quiet and regularity. It was a vast change from life in battle, or even being just on duty, but it was far more interesting than being the third son from a viscount’s family. A viscount who disowned his third boy when said boy was determined to join the army.
Meanwhile, however, he had to pack to head off to a new kind of battle—that of preparing a completely unprepared woman, likely a woman as flighty and often confused as Lady Sophia, to hold a position that she was entirely unsuited for.
Very much like working with raw recruits, in fact.
Genevieve is the daughter of the Duke of Blakesley, and that title is one of the rare ones that may be passed down to a female heir if there is no living male to inherit. At the age of twenty, with her father and brother dead, Genevieve now finds herself the Duchess of Blakesley. Her father ignored her for all of her life, sending her off to live in the country with only servants to raise her. She never made her debut in society, and she certainly doesn’t know how to act like or perform the duties of a duchess. In desperation, she contacts her godmother, Sophia, asking for help.
Lady Sophia decides to send her steward, Archibald (Archie) Salisbury to town to help Genevieve out for a month. Archie is a gentleman by birth. Though he has no title, he is the third son of a viscount. When Archie chose to become a soldier, then to work as a steward, his family disowned him, feeling that they didn’t want to associate with someone involved in trade. Archie has no desire to return to town, as he doesn’t want to run into his family, and he certainly doesn’t want to babysit a young lady with no clue how to act. Yet, his employer insists, and working for her in the country suits him very well, so off he goes.
Archie is surprised to find a sweet and lovely young lady with an earnest desire to become a good duchess, and to repair all the damage and neglect her father has caused. Genevieve is initially smitten by Archie’s handsomeness, but soon sees beyond that to the hardworking, honorable man he is. Each day, as Archie works to put the household, then the country estate, to good working order, he comes to be very fond of the fledgling duchess. And each day, Genevieve’s poise and confidence grow, as does her affection for her temporary steward, who has become a dear friend.
The longing that Archie and Genevieve feel for each other jumps off the pages. The attraction was there from the beginning, but the honest, slow building love and desire is very poignant. They both know that there is no future for them, as Archie is so below her socially. When the time approaches for them to part, and for Archie to return to his position with Lady Sophia, will either of them have the courage to face scandal to be together?
MY FAIR DUCHESS contains the humor that I’ve come to expect from author, Megan Frampton, this time in the form of notes that this couple writes to each other almost daily. The desires they can’t express are written and then crossed out for the reader to see – a most enjoyable, and sometimes heartbreaking experience. Archie and Genevieve are wonderful characters who are perfect for each other, both from a romantic standpoint, and from the way their characteristics and personalities mesh to form a perfect whole entity. The role reversal is very well done, especially in the latter part of the book. I had to smile, thinking of all the books I’ve read with the duke being in charge. MY FAIR DUCHESS has humor, steam, sleazy relatives, a unique plot, and a very, very lovely romance. I enjoyed it greatly.
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