Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Disgraceful Dukes
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (April 26, 2016)
Author's Website: http://lenorabell.com/
Notes: I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating. Please note that as I read and ARC and quotes are subject to change, they will need to be checked and verified against the final version.
"I want to choose my bride. I need a sensible business partner. Someone gracious, genteel, irreproachable...all that I'm damn well not."(...)
“Certain you won’t reconsider?”
“Impossible. You know the score,”
“I know, I know.“ Dalton made a wry face. “Must produce heir. Preserve the Harland legacy. Open your precious manufactory. All that nonsense. Bloody rotten business if you ask me.”
“I don’t like it any more than you. Marriage is the last thing I want. I don’t need more complications.” (...)
A woman desperate to escape her lot in life…
Charlene stilled. He was willing to forgive? She fought a swell of anger that threatened to swamp her control. The last time she’d seen him, he’d been wielding a blazing brand, preparing to mark her with his family crest. Induct her into his private harem.
“You want me to seduce a duke? While pretending to be your daughter?”
“If you must put it so crudely, then yes. It’s really very simple. Three days of acting for enough coin to achieve your dreams. What is it you want most?”
Charlene is a strong woman trying to find a way out of her plight. James is the type of hero who is swoonworthy and needs a good woman more than he knows. The villain is vile and in need of a lesson and a swift kick to the arse (and much worse, but being a lady, I won’t go there). The romance *sigh* is all that and then some. The only thing I can fault the author with is that it ended too soon. (Which considering it was 384 pages, says a lot.) Darn it. I wanted more. lol
For years Charlene was kept in the dark about her mother's profession as a madame of an exclusive bawdy house. The business was run out of a secret room on a separate floor of their residence which I presume had its own private street entrance. Charlene had been horrified by the news especially after finding out she was being groomed to follow in her mother's footsteps. She's looking for a way out not only for her, but her younger sister as well. Although she has her reservations, her playing the part of her legitimate half-sister, Lady Dorthea, seems like her best option. She tends to waffle about whether or not she can pull the switch off as her "schooling", if you can call it that, hasn't been tested, but decides to take the plunge.
James was the spare to his father's heir and had been all but disregarded by his father. He'd done all he could to find his own place in the world only to find himself in the unexpected position of inheriting a dukedom. Now, the last of his line, the pressure for him to produce an heir of his own is weighing heavily on him. The biggest problem being he believes love is "a dangerous word. The precursor to Loss and Loneliness." He's decided his best bet is to marry a woman he doesn't love and he and his friends have narrowed down the playing field to four women of the ton with impeccable pedigrees and spotless reputations.
This story reminded me a bit of My Fair Lady wrapped around a sliver of Memoirs of a Geisha with a touch of the biblical story of Jacob and Rachel (That's the story where Leah is substituted for her sister Rachel at the wedding) mixed in. While it seems a little incredulous that Charlene could remain untainted by her mother's profession for so long, especially with a creep like Lord Grant believing he was entitled to her. I don't think I would have liked the story nearly as much if things had gone darker. In my humble opinion, it was a good call by the author to not go that route. I think it had just the right amount of devilry in it without overstepping into the realm of something much more abominable.
Well, if you haven't figured it out yet, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was a delightful read with a fun and slightly suspenseful story line, characters with distinct and strong personalities, and a love story that made me grin from ear to ear and chuckle a great deal. I HIGHLY recommend this one and am doing a little happy dance because I have found a new author to love. On the Lisarenee Romance Scale, this one scored a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.