by Lecia Cornwall
Genres: Historical Romance
When her sister runs off to avoid an arranged marriage, Meg Lynton takes her place at the altar, since marriage to Nicholas Hartley, the infamous Devil Duke of Temblerlay is the only way to save her family from penury. By the time her wealthy groom discovers he's married the wrong sister, it will be too late to annul their vows. And how difficult can it be to marry a rake and a rogue like Temberlay? All she needs to do is give him an heir and move on with her own life...but deception comes at a higher cost than Meg may be prepared to pay. When Nicholas Hartley inherits the family title after his brother's untimely death, an arranged marriage to a woman he's never met is the last thing he wants. But when his bride raises her veil at the altar, Nicholas realizes that his wedding night might prove to be a pleasure after all. After a bedding that leaves them both breathless, Nicholas discovers Meg's deception, and decides to teach his scheming bride how to be a proper duchess, kiss by devastating kiss...
I stumbled across How to Deceive a Duke and while the cover whore in me was not impressed I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis. How does a sister replace another at the altar to save her family from penury? How would the groom not know? I, of course, had to have some answers. Cornwall answered my questions while delivering a fast-paced tale that had me laughing, banging my head and kept me reading late into the night.
The tale begins at the home of Meg and her sisters. The Duchess of Temblerlay has just offered Rose the oldest daughter, a chance to save them all. She offers a marriage proposal to Nicholas Hartley, her grandson the infamous Devil Duke of Temblerlay. It would mean saving their home and a chance for her younger sisters to wed. Rose wants nothing to do with this, and despite agreeing, runs off in the middle of the night leaving her family to deal with the mess. It is agreed Meg will go for the wedding gown fittings, while their Uncle Hector searches for Rose. The tale that unfolds was positively delightful as all the characters plot and scheme to get their desired outcome and find something more.
There were so many interesting characters from servants to dukes in this novel. I adored Meg Lynton our feisty, head-strong, romantic heroine. Nicknamed the ugly duckling by her father she is the one her entire family turns to upon his death. She loves the scandal sheets and a part of her was curious about the handsome Duke referred to as the devil. I loved how she interacted with Nicholas, the meddling grandmother, and ton. She is strong, smart and even when she is fuming mad she is ever the lady. Nicholas, of course, is swoon-worthy, skilled with his hands and completely flawed. Raised as the second son, he has been to war and it’s changed him. Now he finds himself the Duke, in financial trouble and at the mercy of his grandmother. I loved and hated the interaction between these two. Just when I thought things could work out, someone interferes or they ruin the moment. Eek gads. I dare you not to root for them! Bwahahaha! Nicholas’s grandmother is quite the character and I so wanted her to get what she deserved. *evil grin* Other characters add to the suspenseful storylines the author wove into the tale. It kept me turning the pages at a dizzying pace.
Cornwall did an excellent job of captivating me from the onset with her colorful, likable characters, secrets and mysteries. The tale flowed at a wonderful pace and I was completely enthralled. So by now you are looking at what I have written and gazing down at my cup of coffee rating and asking yourself, “Why isn’t this a five cup of coffee review?” Sadly, the last few chapters of the book took a dramatic turn, and while I get why Nicolas acted the way he did, and a part of me found it noble it irked me. The pacing changed and while it tied up some threads, and further made me adore Meg, it also exhausted and frustrated me. There is a happy ending but that bump at the end. *shakes head*
I recommend How to Deceive a Duke to fans of historical fiction looking for a fun romance filled with suspense and twists. I look forward to reading more of Cornwall’s novels. Despite that little detour at the end, this was a delightful read.
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