The Duke Buys a Bride
by Sophie Jordan
Series: The Rogue Files Series
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
A bride wasn’t in his plans . . .
The last thing Marcus, the Duke of Autenberry, expects to see after sleeping off a night’s drunken shenanigans is a woman being auctioned in the village square. Before he can think about the ramifications, he buys her, thinking he’s winning the girl her freedom. Instead, he discovers he’s bought a wife.
A duke wasn’t in hers . . .
Alyse Bell is almost rid of the shackles that bound her in a name-only marriage, but the day her friend promised to purchase her in a wife auction, he vanishes, leaving her to face a mob of unsavory bachelors intent on owning her body and soul. But the appearance of a wicked, wealthy stranger changes her path forever.
The road to ruin . . .
Marcus doesn’t know what to do with the impertinent chit who clearly isn’t duchess material! Insisting their marriage isn’t legitimate, they leave for his estate in Scotland, hoping to devise a plan to get rid of each other. However, on a journey fraught with misadventure, their attraction grows and Marcus realizes he’ll do anything to keep this fiery woman for his own.
Marcus looked down at the man, unable to help himself from asking, “Is this normal practice?”
The father looked up at him. His nose wrinkled, confirming Marcus did, indeed, reek of a dung heap. Even so, the cut of his clothing and the fine horse he sat upon had the man doffing his hat. “A wife auction, ye mean?”
“I never heard of such a thing.”
“Oh, aye. Not verra commonplace but tis a way for a ’usband tae rid ’imself a wife. I seen it a time before many years ago. An older woman then.” He nodded at the slight figure on the platform. “No’ so young as this. She’ll fetch a fine price.” The man glanced at the girl wistfully. Marcus turned his attention back to the hapless girl. The bidding had reached nine pounds now. An old man stood beside the auctioneer. Her husband? Why would he wish to rid himself of a young wife?
The auctioneer’s voice boomed over the crowd, cajoling the men to dig deeper into their pockets. The onlookers chimed in, hooting and shouting encouragement as well.
“Gentlemen! Wot ye thinking to let this one slip from yer grasp?” He stood behind her and gripped her by the shoulders, forcing her to step forward as though they all needed a better view of her.
Something stirred in Marcus’s stomach at the man’s thick hands on the girl. Despite all his extolling of her hardiness, she was thin. She could easily break beneath someone bigger and ruthlessly inclined. A description that fit a fair number of men in this crowd.
The auctioneer snapped back her cloak, parting it to reveal her body, still mostly hidden within a sack-like wool gown. She snatched at the edges of her cloak and covered herself again, glaring at the auctioneer.
He felt himself smile. There was fire in her. His smile slipped. How long would it last after this day’s unpleasant business? After she was crushed beneath the boot of a man who bought her as though she were a broodmare? How long until the fire was snuffed out completely?
“ ’Tis a fine body! She’ll give ye countless sons tae work in yer trade. At two and twenty she ’as many a year left tae breed. No green girl ’ere, nay! She can work yer farm, run a ’ouse and care fer bairns.” He forced her to turn in a circle. She stumbled slightly as though her shoes were too big.
“But can she work a cock?” an anonymous voice cried out.
The crowd erupted into laughter. The auctioneer stomped his boot on the platform. “Wot scoundrel said that?”
A bent-backed old man in a vicar’s collar rebuked the crowd. “Mind yer tongues! I’ll not stand fer it!”
Marcus shook his head. But the vicar would stand for such an exhibition as this? As long as there were no obscenities?
The girl’s face was fiery red as she faced front again.
Marcus stared at that face, thinking of his sisters, Clara and Enid. Safe back in Town. Pampered and genteel, shopping and taking tea in the parlor and rides in the park. He hoped that would always be so. That this side of life would never touch them as it touched this wretched creature.
The bidding stalled and the auctioneer looked displeased. “Come, men! Ye would let such a fine lass go fer so paltry a sum as thirteen pounds!”
“Why didna ye plow ’er, Beard?” a man heckled. “Ye weren’t man enough fer the task or the lass be squeamish?”
The old man turned red-faced.
The auctioneer shouted, “Enough of that!”
“Bite yer tongue, MacDunn, or I’ll ’ave a word wi’ yer mam!” A heavy matron called out.
MacDunn wasn’t to be fazed. He hollered back. “Untried as she is, we’ve a right tae ken if the lass can perform ’er duties!”
“Aye, thirteen pounds should get us a sampling, Hines!”
Hoots of approval followed this. The girl actually looked alarmed, her gaze flitting over the surging crowd as though Hines might agree to such a thing.
Frustration flashed across the auctioneer’s face. He was losing control over the horde and he knew it.
In an impulsive move, he grabbed her by the chin and forced her face higher. “She be fair enough.” He peeled back her lips. “And a fine set of teeth. A proper sign of ’ealth!”
Marcus’s stomach squeezed anew and he had the urge to vault onto that platform and give the man a good thrashing. He never could stomach the sight of a woman being manhandled. No matter her rank. Farm girl or lady. He supposed his stepmother had something to do with that. She’d raised him to be a gentleman—more than his father ever had. His father always accused him of being weak. Too soft.
He pushed thoughts of Graciela and his father aside. His stepmother was part of the reason he was out here in this godforsaken little backwater. He would not think of her now.
The girl’s head sprang forward at Hines. The auctioneer lurched away suddenly, yanking his hands from her as though she were afire. “Ouch! The little ’ellion bit me!”
The crowd laughed in approval.
“Och! There be some spirit in ’er!”
Marcus grinned. Served him right.
The auctioneer glared down at her crossly, nursing his wounded hand.
A man suddenly cried out, “Take off ’er dress!”
The auctioneer flipped her cloak back off her shoulders, revealing her in her ill-fitting brown wool gown.
Despite his disgust at the sordid scene, Marcus couldn’t look away. He should turn and leave. One voice commanded that, but another part of himself was rooted in place, taking it all in . . . taking in her, this proud girl with fire in her eyes.
Loved this one!
The premise was definitely unique–heroine, who was handfasted (I guess? I don’t think they actually used that term, but she definitely wasn’t a traditional wife for the seven years she raised his children and ran his house) to a much older man is sold at an auction when the old guy decides it’s time to move on with a widow his own age instead (now that Alyse has done all the heavy lifting, of course). The childhood friend who’s supposed to come for her instead books it out of town at dawn, and a duke who’s passing through (after waking up face-first in horse dung!) manages to swoop in just in time to prevent the lecherous tanner from buying her for 16 pounds.
Essentially this is a road trip romance, as Alyse and Marcus spend most of the book traveling through Scotland to get to his Scottish property, where he’s never been and where he tells Alyse she can be his housekeeper. He wants to brood in silence, she feels conversation will make the time pass faster. (Anything’s better than the tanner, she reasons, but at the same time she’s constantly planning ahead for some way to gain future freedom.) Naturally there’s all kinds of forced proximity issues, an illness, an abduction, family drama, and a recalcitrant mule to add drama. His stodgy stuffiness is nicely counterbalanced by her feistiness, and their back-and-forth is what really makes the book.
This is the third in the series, but worked just fine as a standalone. The couple from book one make an appearance and Marcus complains at one point to Alyse about the couple in book two, but you don’t have to have already read their stories to understand the underlying issues–Alyse doesn’t know them either, so Marcus gives her the pertinent deets. (Word bookstore’s Kiss Club had the audio of book two, The Scandal of It All , on sale this month, so I snapped it up ASAP. And book 1 was on my TBR the second I realized it was a historical romance version of While You Were Sleeping…)
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Sophie Jordan:
SOPHIE JORDAN grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s the New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of more than twenty novels. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with anything that has a happily ever after. You can visit her online at http://www.sophiejordan.net.
Tour Wide Giveaway!
To celebrate the release of THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE by Sophie Jordan, we’re giving away a paperback set of the Rogue Files series by Sohpie Jordan and a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a one paperback set of the Rogue Files series by Sophie Jordan and a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 8/6/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!