Hadrian Ames, the Duke of Clayton, needs a bride. He even has the perfect one picked out. That is, until he meets the lovely, free-spirited Natalie Fanshawe. She’s the opposite of what a man of his high rank should desire in a wife—an outspoken American who has never even set foot in a London ballroom.
But Natalie doesn’t have time to be swept off her feet by a handsome duke who must be a spoiled scoundrel like every other British lord. And she couldn’t care less about Hadrian’s title. After all, it’s not as if he actually worked to attain his wealth and status. He surely can’t understand what it’s like to be a busy woman, planning to open a school while trying to reunite a six-year-old orphan with his English relatives. Nevertheless, Hadrian launches his campaign to win her heart. Can the utterly delightful American beauty ever find a way to love him…despite his being a duke?
As she was taking her final breaths Audrey Bellingham extracts a promise from her best friend, Natalie, to bring her son to his grandfather in England.
Once the war is over, Natalie arranges passage for herself and Leo to England. The journey is arduous first by boat then via Royal Mail coach. As they waited out an ice storm at a small inn, her charge manages to escape her. Leo does this more than once and leads to Mr. Clayton, offering to convey them to Whitnash when the miss the Royal Mail coach.
Natalie is a little more than surprised to find that the gentleman escorting them is not only the Duke of Clayton but also cousin to the Earl of Grayson, Leo’s grandfather.
Fortunately the Duke has taken a liking to both Natalie and Leo as both receive a chilly reception from the Earl and his family in residence.
As Hadrian finds himself falling for Natalie, he also knows it will be a uphill battle to get her to stay so he can court her and hopefully persuade her to marry him.
I truly enjoyed traveling back in time to view the vast estates in the country and also London at the beginning of the Season. Plenty of family drama as Natalie’s family tree is revealed, and resentment also surrounds the arrival of Leo.
Some interesting confrontations, some suspense and a simmer to sizzle romance kept me turning the pages.
I have to go back and read the first of this series. I am now finding myself intrigued with the British aristocracy of the past.
5 Contented Purrs for Olivia!
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Olivia Drake is the author of 35 romance novels. Her most recent series is called ‘Unlikely Duchesses’ and began with THE DUKE I ONCE KNEW. The second book in the series, FOREVER MY DUKE, will be released December 31.
Her other series include ‘Heiress in London’ (SEDUCING THE HEIRESS, NEVER TRUST A ROGUE, SCANDAL OF THE YEAR) and ‘The Cinderella Sisterhood’ series (IF THE SLIPPER FITS, STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, ABDUCTED BY A PRINCE, BELLA AND THE BEAST, HIS WICKED WISH, THE SCANDALOUS FLIRT).
Olivia Drake’s books have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense, Best Regency Historical, and the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and a pair of feisty cats. Her two daughters have flown the nest, but they still come back whenever they want a home-cooked meal.
Olivia has also written under the name Barbara Dawson Smith.