by Elizabeth Michels
Series: Tricks of the Ton #1
Genres: Historical Romance
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Straight-laced, self-proclaimed spinster Lily Phillips is forced to become a liar, seductress and thief to retrieve her family’s lost property. Her secret is safe until her brothers order her from a quiet life to an arranged marriage in London—a move that threatens to reveal her past when she encounters the man with whom her crime spree began. Devon Grey, Duke of Thornwood, known to all of London as the Mad Duke, is an explorer chained to a city he hates by the title he never wanted. After he’s coerced by his friend into an evening out, Devon makes his greatest discovery yet. There, in a London ballroom stands the prim miss he’s been in search of for a year. After all, how could he forget the night Lily stole from him and vanished while he slept? Determined to have his revenge, Devon blackmails Lily into participating in various escapades to torment her would-be suitors and scandalize London society. At the risk of having her secret revealed, Lily bends to Devon’s will. Forced to participate in such terrible activities as setting hunting dogs upon a skirt chaser’s crotch in the middle of a ballroom, or knocking a pompous equestrian from his much revered high horse; she eventually begins to enjoy the stunts. Lily remembers why she let her guard down with Devon a year ago. In turn, Devon watches this mysterious Lily begin to bloom into the woman of his desires. When Lily’s brothers force an unwanted betrothal upon her, will Devon choose to burn his dreams of scientific exploration and truly forgive her before it’s too late?
Must Love Dukes is the debut novel of author Elizabeth Michels and the first in the Tricks of the Ton trilogy. This was a delightful Regency era romance that made me giggle and swoon to my HEA. Mini review: Humorous, swoon-worthy and well paced with colorful characters that left me anxious for more by this author.
Lily Phillips in an attempt to retrieve property sold by her brother goes to London dressed in one of her mother’s outdated dresses where in one night she meets a handsome man, shares a night of passion and steals back a family piece. She returns to the countryside prepared to live as a spinster but her brother has other ideas and a year later she returns to London. Her brother intends to arrange a marriage that will benefit his pockets. Now her path cross with the stranger from a year ago. The one who invades her dreams, only to discover he is Devon Grey, the Duke of Thornwood known amongst the peerage as the Mad Duke. Devon has been miserable the past year thinking about the woman who warmed his bed and stole from him. The tale that unfolds is delicious, as these two tango. Devon has Lily assist him by pulling pranks and discouraging the dreadful men on her brother’s list of prospective husbands. Will these two find their happily ever after?
Michels introduced such wonderful, tormented, head strong characters. Lily was a breath of fresh air, despite her dastardly brother she is sentimental, ever the lady and just a tiny bit naughty. I loved when she laughed and wanted more. Devon is swoon-worthy from his rakish good looks, to his outlandish behavior. The ton wants a madman and he gives them one. Devon’s mother the Duchess was wonderfully meddlesome and I quite liked her. Lily has several brothers and I adored one of them. Michels provided a little side story regarding him. The men on her brother’s list of possible husbands all made me cringe and I enjoyed seeing them come undone. Suzanna a childhood friend of Lily’s and Holden Ellis, Lord Steelings, friend to the Mad Duke are ever present. They provided aid but something curious is going on between them and I am anxious to discover their secrets.
Must Love Dukes was a captivating romp from the very first pages. The characters were fresh and likable while the plot had just enough twists to keep me entertained without overdoing it. The interaction between Devon and Lily was such fun, never have I rooted for two characters. Mischief, stolen moments, laughter and growth are all present. I loved watching Devon go from blackmailing Lily to realizing what his true feelings were. The story was well paced as it ebbed and flowed towards a nerve wracking conclusion that left me giddy. While the tale begins with a heated love scene overall it is pretty tame by historical romance standards and I found it well balanced and genuine.
Fans of regency romance laced in humor will adore Must love Dukes. I am anxious to begin Desperately Seeking Suzanna the second book in Tricks of the Ton which is set to release March 4, 2014 followed by How to Lose a Lord in 10 Days or Less in July. Be sure and look for my reviews.