Friday, November 9, 2012
When the Duchess Said Yes
Elizabeth Wylder and the Duke of Hawkesworth were engaged in a very complicated and very binding contract between their fathers but while Lizzie is amenable to the marriage Hawke delays their meeting, and marriage, by running off to Italy for ten years. The former Duke had been a paragon, admired by everyone, and a model of British peerage while being active in the house of Lords, and Hawke has no intention of ever following in his father's footsteps. He amuses himself in Naples buying paintings and dallying with beautiful women and his distant marriage is just a cloud upon the horizon until the time constraints set upon their union rush up. He decides that he will go to England, marry this English rose and after promptly impregnating her he will head back to Naples and live his own life just like his parents had done. But once in England he is finds himself intrigued by a mystery woman he spots and ends up kissing in a garden and neglects his fiance. He is shocked to discover that his beautiful mystery woman is his fiance but realizes this will make their marriage all the more enjoyable.
Lizzie is upset that her fiance has supposedly abandoned her and even more so when she discovers that he had been kissing strange ladies while he was supposed to be meeting her, even if the strange lady is her. However, she cannot deny her immense attraction to her fiance and that is the major impetuous for the speediness with which they plan their marriage. While Lizzie and Hawke begin their wedded life with plenty of time in the bedroom while staying in near seclusion at his estate, friends and family begin to wonder if they can have ever have a true marriage. Lizzie is blinded by her newfound love for her husband and by thoughts of the life they can have together so she does not recognize that Hawke has been neglecting his duties as an English lord until she is forced to. When she discovers that Hawke has every intention of returning to Naples without her once she is pregnant she realizes that the life she had imagined for them is but a myth and only when he is confronted with the possible loss of his wife does Hawke understand that home is wherever Lizzie is, weather in Naples or England.
Lizzie was very open and fun and trusting, and while this could be attributed to her young age, I felt like Bradford did an excellent job making it clear that that was just the type of person Lizzie was. She was caring and anxious and a very real person and I felt like her emotions surrounding her arranged marriage created a very real character. Hawke was very stubborn and I quickly became frustrated with his inability to move beyond his long held beliefs about marriage and see how much Lizzie was falling in love with him and vice versa. I am tired of the heroes who are scared of marriage; every possible reason for their fear has been so overdone and annoys me now. I enjoyed reading about their relationship because they were obviously falling in love with each other and they enjoyed being together and doing little things to make the other happy. They had a lot of common interests and really meshed well as a couple which made his hard headedness even more frustrating.
Lizzie and Hawke certainly enjoyed each other's company in the bedroom and the sparks flew between from the very first kiss to the very last page. The sex was hot and frequent and while it didn't stray from the usual romance novel fare I enjoyed really being able to sense how much these two wanted to jump each other constantly. My favorite part of the novel was watching her grow as she moved beyond the carefree single gal to a bona fide duchess who wanted to take on her responsibilities and expected her husband to be by her side. It was a really well done bit of character development that made it easy to forget how young she truly was. The issue of his returning to Italy was a big problem for me because so much was made of it but then it was glossed over so quickly as the ending kind of came rushing up. However, I did like how they compromised together at the end to make a life that was perfect for both of them and it really made it clear how great they were for each other. The book was very well written and I was super surprised to learn that the author is also an author of great historical fiction that I have also enjoyed.
Rating: A super fast, fun read with a wonderful heroine and a well written relationship with some sizzling attraction but a hero I could not entirely fall for.