Miss Henrietta Tweed arrives on the Duke of Blakewell’s doorstep with little but her clothing, her maid, and assurances that she is now his ward. The young and scandalous Blakewell has never even heard of her, but her story is so preposterous he decides it must be true, and in any case he is so behind on his correspondence that he can well believe a letter was sent ahead of time. All Henrietta wants is for her fortune to be signed over to her; she is nearly 20 and has experience managing money, but Blakewell is convinced that he needs to do his best by her and marry her off. When he realizes that he can’t get enough of her company, his plans take an abrupt shift.
I’m always pleased when I discover a new romance author I’ll like, and I suspect I have found one here. While this book doesn’t push any boundaries of the genre, it is a book that can be read in a day with a great deal of pleasure. Both characters are interesting, particularly Blakewell. He’s quite convinced that he’s a determined rake only to discover that he actually has a crush on his ward for possibly the first time in his life. At least, that’s how I saw it.
Henrietta, meanwhile, has never had the opportunity to get to know a young, virile man before and despite her intelligence, seems very impressed by him. My favorite segments of the book are their conversations when their words are followed immediately by their thoughts:
“All right, maybe you should start by telling me about your parents’ death. Do you mind?”
Yes. Don’t make me remember.
“I haven’t talked about them in a long time.” – p. 217
I like the interplay between their presented personalities and what they’re really thinking. I enjoyed the struggle to articulate their feelings for each other and watching them coax honesty from one another.
As far as the plot was concerned, I also could easily believe that Henrietta thought she was cursed. If she was told it at the impressionable age of 7 and then lived to watch guardian after guardian die, she logically might begin to wonder, no matter how clever she was.
I also enjoyed the interplay among Blakewell’s family. None of them are closely related but ties of affection are clear. I’m very much looking forward to the forthcoming novels featuring Blakewell’s two cousins. I loved the snippets at the beginning of each chapter quoting Lord Chesterfield from Blakewell’s grandmother’s letters. Apparently, Lord Chesterfield actually existed and many of these quotes are his from advice letters to his son. If they’re not, the characters question the quotations in the chapter, because many of these quotes were floating around at the time and could easily have been attributed to him. They were all relevant and the note of history really added something for me.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable romance, and I would recommend it to any romance fans seeking out a new author. For Amelia Grey fans, surely you already know what you’d be missing by not picking up A Duke to Die For.