Genre: historical romance
Can a reclusive Duke...
Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause – after first refusing his suit.
Win London’s most powerful Countess?
Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael – her counterpart in an old scandal – returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of London society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart. But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.
I really did not enjoy the first book in this series, so I am very glad that I did like this one. Caroline Graves, Countess of Stratton, is a rich and independent widow, and determined to stay that way. Eight years ago she was a toasted debutante, and she fell in love with Michael Layward, the heir of the Duke of Wyverne. When they were found in a compromising situation, Michael left town without a word for her, and her reputation was ruined. So Caroline had no choice but to marry the Count of Stratton, a man many years her senior, who wanted a lovely young wife to ease his last years. And Caroline dutifully cared for him. But now she is a widow, courted by many who would like to have their hands on her fortune. Like the current Count of Stratton, who wants the money his father left her, back.
But Caroline does not wish to remarry, and give up her indepence and her fortune, let another man rule her. She loves her life as it is, and if she wants to take a man to her bed, that is up to her to decide.
So when the Duke of Wyverne comes to London to find himself a bride, it has nothing at all to do with her ... Michael is rumored mad by his peers and the newspapers, he is a recluse and likes technology. He has spend all those years to improve his estates in Lancashire, as his father did die shortly after he left town and Caroline, and he has never been back. The long winter of 1816 (the year without a summer) has ruined his plans though, and he needs to marry for money. As he is a Duke, he thinks that won’t be too difficult. But his reputation precedes him, and he really has no idea how to act in polite society. He has no taste for the idle life of the rich.
Caroline never did stop loving him, but she refuses to marry him just because he needs a rich wife. She wants to be loved in return. So when he helps her get rid of an unwanted suitor who won’t accept no for an answer, she offers to help him find a bride. But first she will have to teach him how to behave himself in society.
I did enjoy this story, it certainly was refreshingly different. Michael has social anxiety, and that causes him to have sudden migraines and other things. But Caroline understood him, and his love of modern technology. Michael has only known duty in his life, he doesn’t know what happiness means. And he is a virgin, as he really does not like to be touched.
Caroline and Michael do fit together, and I did like how Michael make Caroline look at her own life closer, does she really enjoy this empty existence, or would she be happier as his Duchess, a woman needed by many?
© 2014 Reviews by Aurian