The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides #1)
Author: Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Release date: 29 April 2014
Is there any greater surprise than falling deeply, madly in love?
In This Battle of Wits
Lady Lucy Upton’s tongue may be too sharp to attract suitors but her heart is good, and when her painfully shy friend Cassandra needs help she devises a brilliant scheme to help her discourage an unwanted suitor, the Duke of Claringdon. Lucy will hide behind the hedgerow and tell Cass just what to say to discourage the duke…but it turns out that he’s made of sterner stuff than either of them anticipated. And Lucy is shocked to discover that tangling with the tenacious man is the most fun she’s had in ages.
Kisses Are the Best Weapon
Lord Derek Hunt made a promise to his dying friend to marry the demure Cassandra, and for a man who wants nothing more than peace and quiet after the horrors of war, she’ll make the perfect bride. If only the impudent Miss Upton will let him court the girl! Doing battle is the last thing on his mind, but bantering with Lucy behind the bushes is too tempting to resist. And the spoils of this war just may be true love…
Oh, I do love losing myself in a book from Valerie Bowman. They never fail to amuse, and The Unexpected Duchess is no exception. It's a fun and flirty romp that keeps your emotions engaged page after delightful page.
When Lady Lucy Upton and Lord Derek Hunt meet, the battle lines are quickly drawn and neither have the intention of backing down. Lucy is on a mission to get the stubborn man to stop courting her uninterested best friend, and Derek has made a promise to his friend regarding Cassandra that he is determined to keep.
Lucy has a reputation in the ton for having a sharp tongue that can cut a man to shreds, which means she doesn't exactly have men lining up to court her. It's a shame because Lucy can be stubborn and certainly is very witty, but she also has a vulnerable side that not many people get to see. Her parents are distant and appear to be uninterested in their daughter, and she is sadly used to their cold ways. Lucy needs a man who isn't intimidated by her and can see through her defenses to the woman who yearns to be loved. I loved Lucy, she's a lot of fun and a very feisty heroine.
Derek has become known as the Duke of Decisive since being made a Duke due to his heroism in battle. This definitely hints that he’s a man who can give as good as he gets when it comes to Lucy. He is not interested in having love in his marriage and is content to marry the demure Cassandra. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for him the more time he spend trying to court Cass, the more time he spends with Lucy. Soon enough he finds himself captivated by the fiery Lucy. He's as stubborn as Lucy but his heart is in the right place. He's extremely loyal and an admirable hero.
I love the scenes where Lucy and Derek come together. Their relationship develops from antagonistic to a point where they understand and respect each other, before becoming love. Their arguing turns to banter, but I loved their witty dialogue throughout. They can both wield words like weapons and it was a lot of fun to read. Lucy and Derek are so well suited for each other and whilst they do have obstacles that must be surmounted, they find their happy ending.
This is a wonderful start to a new series from Valerie Bowman and I'm so looking forward to the next book and finding out what happens with Cass!
*I received a review copy from the publisher, for my honest opinion. Thank you!