In New York Times bestselling author Marie Force’s dazzling historical romance debut, the clock is ticking for a wealthy Duke who must marry by his thirtieth birthday—or lose his title…
Derek Eagan, the dashing Duke of Westwood, is well aware of his looming deadline. But weary of tiresome debutantes, he seeks a respite at his country home in Essex—and encounters a man digging on his property. Except he’s not a man. He’s a very lovely woman. Who suddenly faints at his feet.
Catherine McCabe’s disdain for the aristocracy has already led her to flee an arranged marriage with a boorish Viscount. The last thing she wants is to be waylaid in a Duke’s home. Yet, she is compelled to stay by the handsome, thoughtful man who introduces himself as the Duke’s estate manager.
Derek realizes two things immediately: he is captivated by her delicate beauty, and to figure out what she was up to, Catherine must not know he is the Duke. But as they fall passionately in love, Derek’s lie spins out of control. Will their bond survive his deception, not to mention the scorned Viscount’s pursuit? Most important, can Catherine fall in love all over again—this time with the Duke?
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I’ve read a lot (but admittedly, not all) of Ms. Force’s Fatal series and a small sampling of her contemporary romances, but wasn’t sure what to expect from her first historical effort. When it’s an author I’m familiar with, I have a tendency not to even read the blurb before beginning to read–so I really didn’t know what to expect going in.
Now that I’ve finished, my feelings are mixed.
Overall I liked the characters–I wasn’t always thrilled with their attitudes (especially the mens’ in the first chapter) or their actions (the lying went on Way. Too. Long.–really, Derek had no excuse here) but overall they were likable and easy to root for. Derek and Catherine were cute together, even if theirs was the most insta- of insta-love/lust relationships. (His cousin Simon was just as bad–really, it was a bit silly.) We don’t see a whole lot of the secondary characters, but other than the aforementioned first chapter, they were mostly unobjectionable, and the second book–which jumps the pond to take place in the United States–could be interesting.
The plot was…different…I have my doubts about whether the idea that drives the premise is even possible–I really don’t think it is, but was willing to suspend belief for the sake of the story. Derek’s lies added to the IDK… factor, and the way things unfolded at the end was a bit clumsy and very quick. Though Ms. Force is obviously a seasoned author, this first historical book felt like a first book, and one assumes future ones will continue to tighten up and get better as she relaxes into a new-to-her genre.
Rating: 3 stars / C+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception.
All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction.
Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
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