Friday, February 28, 2014

Duchess by Chance

Duchess by Chance by Wendy Vella

When the Duke of Stratton finds himself deeply in debt at the gambling table to notorious cardsharp Spencer Winshcomb, he is desperate enough to wager his own son's hand in marriage to Spencer's entirely inappropriate daughter, Eva. Daniel finds out about his father's promise at the old Duke's deathbed and is none too pleased at this turn of events, but is determined to fulfill his duty and prove himself better than the old Duke. Berengina Winschomb finds herself very intimated by her new husband, but counts herself lucky to escape her abusive father and older brothers. Daniel knows better than to take his frustration out on his new, very young wife, but he can't help but make his displeasure known. Eva want to be a good wife to the Duke, but is not sure how to go about doing it, especially once he makes it clear they will not have a real marriage with children, even if he is required to consummate the marriage. But Daniel is not expecting his new wife to be so beautiful, or to find himself wanting to protect her from those who want to harm her, and make her happy by protecting those she loves.

Still determined to maintain his distance from his wife, he heads to London after their consummation, but finds that he misses her. When he finds that someone from her past has paid her an unwelcome visit, he rushes back to the country to encourage her to come to town with him. Eva is terrified of how she will be accepted in London society and wants to rusticate in the country, but she knows it is for the best and she owes Daniel after he rescues her younger brother from her father's clutches and sending Reggie to Edinburgh. Daniel is quickly proved right once they arrive in London as Eva becomes the toast of the season and finds herself making new friends easily. Unfortunately, her father has decided to use her new connections and wealth to benefit himself, and his friend has decided that Eva belongs to him. She will need to open up and trust her new husband so that they can work together to fix the mistakes of their past and face the future.

I'm always excited to try new authors, especially when amazon has nice sales on the Kindle versions. Eva was incredibly young and naive, and made decisions that were ludicrous at best and dangerous and stupid at second best. However, her dedication to her younger brother and the servants who worked for her, was admirable, even if it did, at times, seemed like a forced method for gaining the readers' respect. Her age was definitely a problem for me in this book, because at a very sheltered 18 I just couldn't see her holding her own with a duke, even if his age was never mentioned. Daniel was a confusing jumble of dichotomies. He hated his father, but had to follow through with his father's last wish. He didn't want to like his wife, but she was beautiful so he couldn't help himself. It definitely made him a more realistic person, and I really liked how he completely avoided hurting Eva and never blamed her for what happened between them. I also liked how he did work hard to keep those she loved safe.

Eva and Daniel spent a lot of time together, so I could sense a real relationship between them, but Eva just remained rather two dimensional to me. There was some sex between them, sporadic throughout the book, but it was usually very short and was darkened for me because of their odd relationship. What really bothered me about this book was Eva's unbelievably stupid decision not to tell Daniel about her father's blackmail and the threats against her. It started midway through the book and I couldn't help but roll my eyes and cringe at the blatant attempt to manufacture a problem between two people who were growing to love each other with no obstacles. The dialogue in this book was just ridiculous and completely unrealistic; things that no one would ever say. While I normally can overlook a few too flowery words, this book was just flowery nonsense from beginning to end and made me cringe. The distance of time has given me a better look at this story, but at the time the dialogue really drove me inane.

Rating: A wonderful first effort, but a better, more likable heroine and realistic dialogue will be what Vella needs to work on to continue righting great romance.

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