All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

A Duchess To Remember – Christina Brooke

on August 26, 2012

A Duchess To Remember
Christina Brooke
Penguin AU
2012, 320p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Lady Cecily Westruther is no real stranger to scandal and unusual behaviour – she is a Westruther after all and they’re rather notorious. She’s been living with her guardian, the Duke of Montford since she was 10 when her beloved brother died. Now her coming out is almost upon her and her introduction to society will coincide with the announcement of her engagement to the Duke of Norland. It’s an arranged marriage, set down by their parents long ago, when Cecily was born. The Duke is older than she is, already having been married and buried a wife, and the father of two grown sons.

This suits Cecily just fine – in fact it’s what she prefers, which is why she has agreed to allow the engagement to go ahead. She wants a quiet life where she is free to do whatever she wishes, not be overruled and controlled by a husband. However there is just one thing that Lady Cecily needs to do before she gets married – and that is retrieve a letter she wrote to her brother, the contents of which could derail the engagement and threaten the quiet and happy life she has slowly and painstakingly organised for herself.

Standing in Cecily’s way and being as obstinate as he possibly can is the powerful Duke of Ashburn. Rand knew her brother and purchased all of his papers after his death, including the personal ones. Cecily must go through him if she means to get the piece of paper back that she is looking for but being around the Duke of Ashburn could be very dangerous. Rand is accustomed to getting any woman that he wants – and he wants Lady Cecily. Never mind that she is betrothed, that can be easily fixed. He’s not used to having a woman resist him and even though he knows Lady Cecily is attracted to him physically, she’s determinedly stubborn about giving up her older, tedious fiance and becoming his duchess instead. This just makes Rand even more determined to have this spirited woman and he wages an aggressive campaign.

But Rand hides a dangerous secret from Lady Cecily which, should she discover it, would destroy her trust in him forever.

A Duchess To Remember is the third in the Minstry of Marriage series but it’s the first that I’ve read – it features a different couple each novel although previous couples do play very minor roles, so it’s not necessary to have read the previous two books in order to read this one. Cecily is an orphan, she lost her parents at a young age and then further lost her older brother. She was saved from a life of misery living with her brother’s heir by the Duke of Montford who took her on as a ward and moved her into his house along with the half dozen or so others he had assumed guardianship for. The ‘cousins’ are close, enjoying good relationships with each other and a certain reputation for being a little eccentric. It’s a little surprising to most people when Cecily seems to eager to marry the rather scholarly and boring Duke of Norland.

There were things I quite enjoyed about this book and also some things that I found a little weak. Cecily isn’t exactly what I’d term as a really enjoyable heroine. I found her a bit irritating to be honest and her obsession with finding some piece of paper from when she was 10 lest it destroy her life and other people’s lives, was a bit odd. I was expecting it to be something dramatic, but in the end it wasn’t really – it was something that might’ve briefly hurt someone’s feelings and made a few people laugh but ultimately it’s something she did when she was still a child and was resigned to probably having to marry some Duke years older than her who was a crashing bore. She was so singleminded in her attempts to find the paper and also to continue with the marriage to Norland even though they didn’t plan to even live in the same house after it that I found it baffling. I understand her need for freedom and not wanting to be bullied by a husband but there are alternatives to marrying a guy you’re not interested in who you will never see.

What I did like was Rand, Duke of Ashburn. Quite often the heroes of these romances are rakes, reluctant to marry until the very end where they’re suddenly humbled by the heroine. But Rand makes it quite clear that he intends to make Cecily his Duchess and that he’s not going to rest until that happens, so I found that refreshing. He also doesn’t have much going on in the way of denial – he knows he feels a certain way about her and he’s okay with that. He actually believes in marrying for love, not just duty and honour and he’s actually kind of horrified that Cecily plans to marry Norland when he knows they could marry and have a fabulous life together. He does keep a pretty big secret from her and I actually really liked the way in which that played out and was resolved. Cecily acted in a more believable way and also a forgiving and adult way.

All in all this book was a quick and fun read and I would go back and read the two preceding it if I were able to find them – both couples do appear briefly in this novel and their stories seem like they might be fun.

6/10

Book #165 of 2012

This is the 53rd book read and reviewed for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012

 


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