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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen

The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen
I received a free e-copy of this book from in return for a review. 

It has been a while since I tried a new straight Regency romance novel, and I can happily report that I enjoyed this one as a nice and easy romance read.

The plot: Sara, the plain and painfully shy orphaned cousin of a murdered Society star, Meredith, begins receiving letters from a witness to the two-year old unsolved murder - or maybe even from the killer himself - and goes to Meredith's fiance for help. Gabriel Ferguson, the Duke of Rossmoyne (known as Ross) has just returned from a stint in India, where he went to escape his grief over Meredith's death. Sara's aunt and uncle, whom she (somewhat confusingly) refer to as her parents, have fallen apart and are living apart after their daughter's death, and she feels like Ross is the only one who can help. In true classic Regency romance fashion, Ross's partying days are over and he finds Sara's calm and intelligent demeanor attractive, while she realizes that he is not the man her cousin originally fell in love with. Sara knows, though, that her fear of Society and social situations will not work well in the post of a Duchess. Also, of course, they must track down Meredith's killer.

While there is always a certain amount of formulaic plotting in these books, I find I don't mind it if they work well. This one did. Ms. Cullen has created interesting characters whom I liked and rooted for. These particular two are not only reasonable, with at least some true-to-life concerns, they also have social consciences. Sara is correct to worry about whether she could face Society - Ross has to meet Queen Victoria, for example, and any duchess of that time would have to, also. Ross left for India while he still had the reputation of a party animal, so to speak, so even his own mother has doubts of whether he can settle down - and rightly so. The story begins the day he returned from India - it seems reasonable that his mother hasn't realized that he's changed.

The plot moves along pretty quickly and well. The physical romance scenes are steamy without being too explicit. I'm not sure that Ms. Cullen has the correct forms of address for the various levels of nobility (and that's based on research, not just other novels) but other than that, I have no beef with the writing. The grammar and dialogue are good.

This book will be published as a Random House Loveswept e-book on November 10th. I would recommend it to fans of Regency romance looking for a no-brainer read.

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