Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: How to Deceive a Duke by Lecia Cornwall


When Meg's sister elopes a week before her wedding to the Duke of Temberlay, desperate Meg is left with no choice but to take her sister's place. With her family destitute and with everything but the roof above their heads sold off, Meg needs the Temberlay fortunes and connections to ensure that her mother and younger sisters have a secure future.

Nicholas Hartley has never met his betrothed and hadn't expected her to be beautiful -- but, the moment after they exchanged their vows, the moment she lifted her veil, he couldn't help but be spellbound by the woman he had married.

He braced himself and lifted the veil.

He stared down at her. She wan't hideous.

She was beautiful.

He met wide eyes that held a kaleidoscope of color, gold, brown, and green, set in a lush fringe of copper-tipped lashes. Her features were delicate, perfectly formed, her nose dusted with faint freckles that suggested she spent time outdoors and didn't always wear a bonnet or carry a parasol. Under his scrutiny, she blushed.
- p. 61

And after the second kiss (the first one was a bit of a disaster), Nick finds himself captivated.

Imagine how he felt when he discovers he had married the wrong sister -- but Meg doesn't feel wrong to Nick. She's intelligent, capable, curious and an equal match for his passion. Nick is a duke and was in the military -- so he's used to getting his own way. But Meg isn't the shy, retiring, complacent woman her father raised her to be. She's independent and strong-willed. There is instant chemistry between them and it's so obvious and so exciting -- even when they are arguing, one could feel that spark.

"Why did you join the army?"

He shrugged. "Second sons must do something. I had no interest in the church."

She laughed out loud, and he looked at her, his brows raised. She put a hand over her mouth. "Forgive me, but I cannot imagine you as a churchman."

"Nor could I," he said. "And you? What did you imagine your life would be?"

"Marriage to a churchman," she quipped, and he chuckled.

"You would have been a dreadful minister's wife."
- pp. 198-199

Nick and Meg have more than their marriage to handle: the specter of Nick's brother's death as well as the circumstances behind Meg's father's death shadow and haunt the young Duke and affect the Duchess.

And there is Nick's rakish reputation, earning him the moniker, Devil. Meg wants to trust and love the man she married but she cannot ignore the scandal sheets or the very public spectacle of Nick in the arms of his mistress.

Meg wonders, how could a plain, practical country girl like her compete with London's sparkling beauties?

Truth and Deception are the main themes that Lecia Cornwall explores in her latest novel.

It is interesting how truth is viewed as something painful and we attach such descriptions to it as brutal, damning, awful, etc. The truth is something that needs to be sugar-coated and broken gently.

Both Nick and Meg are tired of living with the lies in their lives -- at first, Nick didn't care about the gossip written about him in the newspapers but, after his marriage, he realized how much the lies can hurt the people closest to him.

Then there is his brother's death and his very strange, very damning last words: "It's all Nicholas's fault."

How could it be Nicholas's fault when he was at war when his brother died? That's part of the mystery that Nicholas needs to solve.

I love the pace of the story and the complications the couple encounters as they try to make sense of their married life. A marriage of convenience is a difficult obstacle to overcome -- but add to that the problem of Nicholas's reputation and their own individual family problems, which Nick tackles in a very level-headed way.

(I will admit to being half in-love with the duke. ^_^)

This was an amazing, amazing story. I kept reading and reading, hoping to find a good place to stop -- but the story just kept me entranced. The side characters were just as interesting. (I would love to read more of Delphine St. James and Stephen Ives. ^_^)

How to Deceive a Duke is Lecia Cornwall's third book (and, I hope, the start of a new series). To find out more about Lecia Cornwall and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

I read this book as part of the Reading Romances Challenge 2013 for January.

reading romances reading challenge 2013

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