How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days
By Laura Lee Guhrke
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Five years ago, near the end of an unsuccessful season in London, American heiress Edie Jewell was dreading her return to New York. Edie was unsurprised that not even her father’s millions were enough to win her acceptance in New York Knickerbocker society where the nouveau riche label had destroyed the hopes of wealthy young women with far more beauty and grace than Edie possesses, but the whispers that followed her every move after the nightmare in Saratoga left her reputation in tatters. The rattling tongues and her fear of encountering the man responsible for her ruin made New York intolerable for Edie, but her father’s hope that his wealth will be sufficient to overcome the deficiencies of his tall, ginger-haired, freckled older daughter has proved vain. Even the wiles of Lady Featherstone, the renowned matchmaker for American heiresses in London, have failed. But just when it seems that Edie must steel herself to return to New York, she meets the Duke of Margrave, who accepts Edie’s astonishing proposal: she will pay the heavy debts he has inherited and fund his expedition to Africa, and he will give her the protection of his name and her freedom, insuring the latter by never returning to England.
Stuart, Duke of Margrave kept his promise to his wife for five years. But when an attack by a lioness leaves him a few breaths away from death, Stuart knows he must break his word and return home—to England and to Edie. His wife’s dismay at his return makes his dream of a real marriage seem impossible, but Stuart, an optimist by nature, persuades Edie to strike a new deal. He has ten days to persuade Edie that she can have a whole and happy life as his wife. If he fails, he will disappear and leave Edie to live her life without the duke.
What follows is a story of sweet seduction that offers a rare blend of serious problems, light-hearted pursuit, and genuine communication. In another reversal from the expected, Edie is the one with the power. Stuart, in his quest to win the favor of his lady, does sometimes manipulate her into situations that push the boundaries of her comfort zone, but she always has a choice. It is a measure of Stuart’s understanding that he recognizes, even before he learns the details of Edie’s trauma, that having the power of choice is essential for her.
How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days is the second book in Guhrke’s American Heiress in London series. I liked the first book, When the Marquess Met His Match, and I thought this one was even better. Edie is an intelligent woman who is using her intellect and her considerable strength to survive a devastating experience, one that leaves contemporary women, with far more resources than a woman in the late 19th century had, battling anxiety and depression. Stuart is a heart-stealer hero with more than his share of charm, tenderness, and two undervalued qualities—patience and honesty.
I’ve been a Guhrke fan for years, but this one is special even as a book from a favorite author. I did have a quibble with the title, which suggests lighter fare than the book delivers. But that’s a minor point and certainly not enough to prevent my giving this book my highest recommendation and counting it among my top five Guhrke novels.
I really enjoy the American in England trope when it is done well. Guhrke’s Trouble at the Wedding is another excellent example of the trope, as are two of Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflower books. Do you like the trope? What’s your favorite romance with an American heroine in England?