Yes, folks, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and this week Blogging for a Good Book features five romance-filled reviews:
Charlotte wants a divorce. Not the most promising of starts for a romance novel, admittedly, but I have always found the books that tell the story of what happens after the “I do” the most intriguing.
Charlotte, Duchess of Rutherford, will try anything—gambling, drinking, flirting—to cause a scandal big enough to force her husband, Philip, the stern, stodgy Duke of Rutherford, to divorce her and finally end their painful sham of a marriage. Three years before, a heartbreaking betrayal led to their estrangement. Philip set his wife aside in favor of his mistress, and Charlotte cannot forgive the pain and humiliation. So Charlotte leads a separate life in London, hoping to cause enough scandal to force Philip to petition for a divorce—but he kidnaps her instead.
Philip has realized the enormity of his mistake three years before, and he is desperate to convince his wife that he has changed for the better. He spirits her away to his country estate, far from the distractions of London, and puts his plan into motion. To win his wife back, Philip promises her the divorce she so desperately desires, but only if she teaches him how to be a better husband for another woman (in particular his former fiancée, Lady Joanna Grey). Quite rightly, Charlotte cannot help but be suspicious of his motives—especially since it comes with such an unusual caveat. But as Charlotte and Philip spend time together, she begins to wonder if she really wants to lose him, even as she pretends to help him court another woman.
Seducing the Duchess is a remarkable debut novel, and what I found particularly enjoyable was the author’s decision to tell the story, as it develops, from both Charlotte’s and Philip’s perspectives. She will interrupt a scene halfway through to switch to the other’s perspective, and the results are hilarious. The “spirited debates” pit husband against wife as each struggles to gain the upper hand. Just when they think one of them is ahead, the other manages to unexpectedly turn the tables.
Seducing the Duchess is a compelling read, populated with richly nuanced characters. Philip is saved from being an antihero by his desire for forgiveness and redemption, and Charlotte’s stubbornness is tempered by an inner vulnerability. Readers will enjoy the witty banter and the ruse each is perpetuating against the other. The characters are engaging, the writing is clever and fun, and the opening chapter is one of the most entertaining I’ve read in a long time. Philip and Charlotte’s antics as they each try to outwit the other may have you laughing out loud more than a few times.
Check the WRL catalog for Seducing the Duchess.