All the Duke I Need

The heart wants what it wants…

“Do not be frightened of what love will cost you, be frightened of what you might lose if you deny your love.”

They could not be more inappropriate or unsuitable for one another– but the heart wants what it wants.

His first appearance before the Dowager Duchess is delayed by a shirtless dowse under an outdoor spigot the laundry women cannot stop swooning over. And as much as she disapproves of him, Philippa Kirkpatrick wishes she’d gotten a glimpse of William Montclair’s bare chest as well.

The new steward is not the stodgy stick in the mud everyone expected. He is a brash, strikingly handsome American who whispers sweet nothings with the aplomb of a French courtier. He is brimming with both ideas and competency, despite his lack of experience managing an estate.

Philippa has managed her adopted grandmother’s affairs with a deft hand since she turned eighteen. She has tracked the correspondence and the accounts and resents the intrusion of someone who appears to be a cavalier interloper.

William and Philippa are thrown together so that he has a guide to the tenants, the estate’s concerns and the reparations to be made. The more time they spend with one another, the greater their feelings become.

But William has secrets he cannot share, and Pippa needs the safety and security of marriage to a landed gentleman. Any future seems doomed before it begins.

I loved this story of the loss and obstinacy that has shaped the lives of this couple. They cling to the expectations of others until they realize nothing matters if you do not have love.

By Any Other Name: Lauren Kate

She’s finally getting the promotion she’s been working for. But her success hinges on her ability to guard one of the biggest secrets in the publishing world.

Their meet cute is not cute. As far as she’s concerned, he’s arrogant and condescending and aloof. And whether or not she finds him attractive is immaterial. She’s already engaged. And he’s a liar.

But he writes books that are things of beauty. Books that speak to her heart and have shaped her life. But now the one writer who will make or sink her career has writer’s block. Even though she is hurt enough, and angry enough, to cast him into purgatory, she knows she has to thrust her feelings of betrayal aside and get him to deliver a manuscript.

Lanie and Noah have messy lives and loose ends. They have the weight of a monumental deception between them. But they also have tulips. And walks in the rain. And train rides with odiferous lunches.

I absolutely adored this sweet, sassy rom-com! It features a complex hero who is in touch with his feelings, and able to articulate them. It features a heroine who finally empowers herself to seek out and fight for the life and the sense of personhood that she wants and deserves. It features two unforgettable characters navigating the challenges and losses that have shaped them.

Plot: 5 Stars
Characters: 5 Stars
Steam: 1 Star

A Duke In Time

An independent widow and a stoic duke find their HEA.

I dare you not to swoon over the sweet, supportive romance that blooms between Kat and Christian. 

Kat is a self-made woman. She has concealed her ignominious past from the ton, and launched a successful business with her savvy and insight. Her husband’s death doesn’t bring the closure she had hoped for. Instead it brings new obstacles and challenges she never could have foreseen. She digs in her heels and takes off her gloves to force his dukish half-brother into helping her clean up the mess. 

Christian has never met a woman like Kat. He expunged his brother and his wild antics from his life when he joined the army. And now his delectable, infuriating widow has gotten under his skin and his skill as a tactician on the battlefield was no preparation for her siege.

They begin a reluctant partnership that unfolds into a shared presence of mind and determination to make the world a better place. Christian wants her in his bed, and is lost at the first fleeting touch of her lips. But he cannot offer her more. And Kat finds him fiercely irresistible- but cannot allow her secrets to cloud his future. 

Every moment they spend together is fraught with temptation. Kat is determined not to cloud Christian’s prospects with her humble origins and Christian is convinced he is not a suitable candidate for marriage. 

The quest for Christian’s brother’s legacy, the shared investment they have in improving the lot of others, and the fiery attraction that burns between them become impossible to resist. They are inexorably drawn to each other- and find safety and solace in each other’s embrace. Their journey to incandescent joy is a sweet, saucy surrender. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

Her mellifluous voice wrapped around him as the word mine burrowed into the recesses of his mind. For a wild moment, he wanted nothing more than to make her his. Ch. 4

It was foolhardy to be kissing her when anyone could walk in, but a small growl of need rose within his chest. This woman made him want all the wonderful things that life had to offer, like the comfort of holding another. Ch. 13

If any soldier had deserted him like his well-bred willpower just had, he would have called for a court martial of the fugitive. Ch. 13

“There are no guarantees that any of us will experience or even find love in this life. But if we’re lucky enough to obtain it, we must protect and nourish it, much like a seedling until it can stand on its own and weather the elements. Love, if allowed to grow, develops deep roots, whether from a father, mother, husband, wife, or even our own children, that will last for a lifetime and beyond.” Ch 15

I want to be the man who lays a rose on your pillow in the morning, holds your hand in the dark, and kisses you as the sun rises. Ch 21

“It’s a powerful word. For instance, nothing will ever keep me from you. Nothing will keep us apart. Nothing will keep me from giving you my heart. Nothing will keep me from showing you my deepest abiding love every day. Nothing will keep me from making love to you. Nothing will keep me from begging you to marry me every hour until we say, ‘I do.’” Ch 26

How to Survive a Scandal

Think warm thoughts….

A rescue from a wrecked carriage leads to dishabille and disaster…

When Benedict rescues Amelia from her capsized carriage, he doesn’t think about the repercussions. He just knows he needs to find the closest shelter available and get her warm as fast as he can. She is pale, her pulse is weak, and she’s talking nonsense. Of course he still notices how delectable she is. But he ignores that side of his brain because he knows they are complete opposites. She is a spoiled belle of society and he is a self-made man- the result of an affair between a notorious noblewoman and her brawny footman.

She’s suddenly issuing commands like an ice princess, and the only way to quiet her down is to pull her into his lap. Of course the moment he is settling in, the door bangs open and they have the attention of an audience. Her father demands they marry – she is on the verge of receiving a proposal from a duke and she refuses. But her duke avoids scandal at all costs — and he can’t afford to wed a woman whose scandalous encounter is on the tip of every tongue. So Benedict does the valiant thing and rescues the reluctant damsel in distress. He assures her that their marriage will be one of convenience, in name only.

Amelia is flummoxed by her handsome husband. She wanted a spouse and a household she could control. She wanted a relationship that didn’t make her dependent or weak. And her husband’s glimmering gaze definitely makes her weak in the knees. She can’t help staring at his biceps, or how he fills out his breeches, She can’t help but admire his quicksilver mind and his accomplishments. And she’s falling fast.

He can give her the purpose and security she longs for, and she can give him the peace and confidence he needs. But first they have to admit how they feel and simply surrender to it.

I absolutely adored this lush historical romance with all my heart. A huge thanks to Netgalley and Forever for the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review.