I Married the Duke
By Katharine Ashe
Release Date: August 27, 2013
The Caulfield sisters were sent to England by their mother when they were very young, too young to have more than sketchy memories of their mother. When the ship taking them to England sinks, they are the only survivors. They know nothing about their father, and, with no relatives to claim them, they are sent to an orphanage and later adopted by a widowed clergyman. All the girls have from their former lives is a valuable ruby ring. According to a gypsy seer, the ring holds the key to their father’s identity, an identity that will be revealed only when one of the three sisters marries a prince.
The middle sister Arabella takes the gypsy’s message to heart. Thirteen years later, after having worked several years as a finishing governess and having established a reputation as being particularly skilled at preparing young ladies for their debuts and seeing them through their first season, Arabella is on her way to Saint-Nazaire in France where she is to prepare the younger sister of the Prince of Sensaire for her debut in London. Arabella hopes that she will be able to attract the Prince’s attention and through him fulfill the prophecy. It’s not impossible; after all, she has been fighting off the attention of male employers throughout her career. But when she misses her ship, her most pressing need is to get to her destination by September 1 when her employment is supposed to begin. Her best hope of doing this is securing a place on board the ship commanded by Captain Andrew.
Lucian Westfall, former commander of HMS Victory, Comte de Rallis, and heir apparent to the Duchy of Lycombe, for the past year has been known to many simply as Captain Andrew of the merchant brigantine Retribution. He has the boldness of a pirate, an effect intensified by the eye patch he wears, and the arrogance of a lord. He is not at all amenable to the request for passage on his ship from the sharp-tongued young woman he identified as a schoolteacher at first sight. His first response is a resounding no, but she is persistent. Her reason for missing her ship and the fact that her destination is a castle that belongs to him persuade Luc to consent to accept her as a passage.
What follows is a romantic adventure that encompasses a variety of romance tropes, including shipboard romance, marriage of convenience, and secrets—dangerous and deadly. More than once their barely cheat death. Arabella and Luc are all wrong for each other. She cannot lose her chance with a prince when it is finally within her grasp. She believes this is the only way to find out who she is and the only route to securing her sisters’ happiness. He needs a blue-blooded wife to provide the heir he is desperate for in case he does become the Duke of Lycombe. For the sake of his beloved brother and all the hundreds of people dependent upon the duchy, he must have an heir. It is the only way to finally defeat the Reverend Absalom Fletcher, his mad, abusive, hypocritical guardian. However, reason proves no match for the irresistible, sizzling attraction between the governess and the piratical lord. But before they can attain an HEA, they must learn to trust one another and work together to defeat the powerful enemy who wants Luc dead.
I Married the Duke is the first book in Ashe’s new Prince Catchers series, and the story of the mysterious ring and the identity of the three orphan sisters is tantalizing bait for series addicts. I knew as soon as I read the prologue that I was fairly caught and would not be satisfied until I turned the final page of the third book.
Arabella and Luc are each interesting characters in their own right, and their banter, their chemistry, and the healing they offer each other make them a couple guaranteed to appeal to a romance lover’s heart. If Arabella seems rather too rash at times and Luc seems foolishly reluctant to share truths with her, these are forgivable flaws in a compelling story with complex characters and more than one moment of heart-stopping suspense. I think Ashe has a winner!
If you like your romance with plenty of action, lots of heat, and characters, both primary and secondary, who capture your interest and affection, I recommend this book.
I love quiet romance novels, but I also like to mix them up sometimes with romances high in action. What’s your preference?