How To Beguile A Duke
Entangled Publishing LLC
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Catherine Maboeuf has divided her time between the Bahamas and New Orleans but now she is returning to England, her mother’s homeland. Her mission is two fold – her wealthy shipping merchant father has given her leave to purchase her mother’s childhood home which was lost to her after her father died and it was entailed away to a male cousin. Secondly she must find her great-grandmother’s journal and use the clues hidden within it to find a lost family treasure.
What Catherine didn’t count on was Nick, the Duke of Boulstridge who has purchased Walsley Manor, her mother’s former home and restored it to its original glory after it fell into neglect and disrepair. He now considers it his home and has no desire to sell it at all. Amused by Catherine’s spirit and her determination, he is also aware of how her manners are less than what England’s high society would consider ideal and so he makes her a wager: if she can secure a genuine offer from a titled member of London’s society before the end of the season, he will sell her the Manor.
Catherine might not be as gently behaved as some young London ladies but she is exceedingly rich and that’s always a drawcard for a man with an impoverished estate. She’s certain she’ll win – after all, Nick has said that she doesn’t have to accept the offer, merely receive one. The trouble is, the longer she spends in London, the more she realises that the only offer she wishes to receive is from the man who believes that she won’t get any at all. Meanwhile the Duke is realising that an unconventional lady just might be what he needs himself.
I love historical romance with a twist and I found this one a lot of fun. Catherine is a bit of an unusual heroine given that she’s not born and raised in England and has instead lived her life between the Bahamas and New Orleans. Because of this, what she considers to be socially acceptable is much different to what London’s society considers to be acceptable. For example, she carries a cutlass underneath her skirts and another knife and she knows how to use them. She’s unused to requiring a chaperone to go anywhere and tends to speak her mind. She knows that she needs to be on her best behaviour in England if she isn’t to stand out, something that’s reinforced after she meets the Duke and they end up making their wager.
Catherine is sponsored by her mother’s old friend and she finds a friend in the lady’s daughter, named Jane. Jane is out for the season is well and is hoping to secure an offer and is unperturbed by the rumours swirling around Catherine, such as her father being a pirate, she not being civilised, etc. In this book, Catherine manages to get Jane into reading Jane Austen’s novels and she’s reading Pride & Prejudice which is interesting as there are some parallels. Nick is also proud, like Darcy albeit for rather different reasons and he’s also strongly attracted to a woman he likes but believes isn’t a suitable match. Nick doesn’t plan to marry at all but he laments that the one woman who does interest him is from an inferior background and he doesn’t hesitate in telling her most of this either. He actually doesn’t seem to see how insulting what he’s saying is and Catherine actually does quite well in holding her ground against him. They have some really good interactions, including their first one where they meet in Nick’s study after Catherine has broken into it.
I have to admit I was kind of less interested in the plot about the missing family heirloom which leads to danger for Catherine. It felt a bit far-fetched at the best of times and even though it serves to continue to throw Nick and Catherine together, I don’t feel like it ever really went far enough within the framework of the story. It doesn’t really satisfy me either, the way in which it all played out, which was rather disappointing. Fortunately for me, I more than found Nick and Catherine’s interactions enough to carry the book. Nick is rather uptight and very correct – he’s determined to restore his family’s good name after his father savaged it and therefore he tends to believe that things should be done a certain way and people should behave a certain way. He regards Catherine with wavering emotions – at times, he’s playful with her and you get a glimpse of the man Nick might’ve been if he’d had another male influence other than his father. Other times he’s quite stern and a bit proper but the longer he spends with Catherine, the more she breaks down those barriers, even as he wars with himself. I really liked the character of Nick’s mother, she provided a voice of reason to his fears and insecurities and she seemed a remarkable lady, despite all that she had endured.
I enjoyed this book – it was something a bit different and a lot of fun.
Book #252 of 2014