The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James
Lady Olivia Lytton has been engaged to Rupert, heir to the Duke of Carleton, since she was born and the fact that Rupert is mentally challenged will not stand in the way of her parents social climbing or his father's desire for an intelligent heir. She has spent her childhood being "duch-ified" and while her sister, Georgette, has learned every lesson, Olivia does not really fit the idea of what a Duchess is supposed to be. She is curvy, she is loud, she is atonal, she enjoys racy limmericks, and she absolutely loathes reading etiquette books, especially the one written by the Dowager Duchess of Sconce. Tarquin, Duke of Sconce, is better with numbers than people and has decided to allow his mother to find his next wife. His first marriage ended disastrously when he allowed his heart to lead him and his wife ended up cheating on him numerous times before she ran away with her lover and ended up drowning, with their son, in the Thames. Olivia has her own duke so when Georgette is invited to a house party with the opportunity to impress the dowager, Olivia agrees to accompany her while Rupert goes off to fight Napoleon and seek glory.
It is quickly obvious that Georgette is the frontrunner to become the new Duchess of Sconce as she has taken to the Duchification process that eluded Olivia. But even as he tells himself that Georgette is better for him, and the two can certainly talk about the mathematical processes that interest him, it is Olivia he is drawn to. Olivia with her dirty limmericks and her very curvy body that he cannot keep from thinking of and whom he enjoys cornering in ballrooms and kissing. Olivia too feels the connection to Quin and she certainly enjoys the kissing aspect just as much as him, but she feels guilty for betraying her sister and her fiance. Nonetheless Olivia and Quin find themselves taking every opportunity to be alone together, sneaking off during balls and climbing trees together and otherwise engaging in activities that they should not be given that her sister could become his wife. Both must realize that, though their relationship will hurt many around them, sacrifices will need to be made for the sake of their love.
When Eloisa James is at her best she writes humorous novels with lovable characters that are immensely enjoyable and this book certainly falls into this character. I did love Olivia because she was loud and "fat" (romance speak for big breasted) and outgoing and enjoyed life while still maintaining her commitment to her duty and her family and was a good enough person not to want to hurt a mentally challenged young man. She loved her sister and her fiance and while she suffered guilt over this she still realized that she had found her chance at love and reached out to grab it with both hands. It is apparently harder for authors to write heroes because they have such a narrow confine to work within and with the success of Jennifer Ashley's The Madness of Ian MacKenzie, asperger's has suddenly become the extra oomph they can add to make their heroes different and unique. Unfortunately I don't believe James does quite a good job here as Ashley and Quin's disability with people seems like just that; a way to make him different without being too off putting for readers and shies away from some of the harsh realities of the disability.
I also felt that Quin and Olivia did not spend as much time together as I would have liked in my protagonists and what time they did spend was hindered by their guilty feelings and the knowledge that their time was very limited because of their circumstances. As with most James' books there was some sex and it was romantic but it was far from being hot and felt like it was just there because it had to be there. I did like that the periphery characters were well developed and that her fiance and sister were never demonized; they were real characters with real stories and didn't just get shoved aside to make way for the happy ending. I did feel like the matter of Rupert was resolved a little too quickly and a little too neatly and apparently was rather historically inaccurate within the history of the Napoleonic Wars. However, I do like to suspend disbelief when reading romance novels and I do like fairly nice little bows made out of big problems so it didn't bother me.
It was fun and fast and I liked reading it but I admit that James has never really been a go to author for me because she's never crossed into that excellent category.