Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Married the Duke (Review)

(The Prince Catchers, #1)

Publisher: Avon Books
Published: August 27th, 2013
Genre(s): Adult Historical Romance

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided for an honest review*

My Review: (4/5 stars*)

After reading quite a few historical romances it's a great relief to find one that is distinctive. I Married the Duke has a collection of fascinating characters, a winsome romance, and a smidgen of action and mystery. I thought for a first novel in a new series it was solidly written and successfully devised. Ashe has done a fine job setting up a stimulating story with lively individuals and a puzzling plot.

It begins slowly and picks up pace toward the middle which nearly had me wanting to skip parts to get to the interesting stuff, but I didn't. Though the events are gradually moving the character buildup is fundamental. Getting to know and understand the main heroine Arabella is, in part, what makes this novel consuming. She has an attractive personality, she's determined, emotionally tough, clever, and competent. Arabella's well versed in the ways of the world and has realistic expectations. She tends to bottle up her true feelings and because of that the hero has to crack her shell. Being distrustful of men is why she's so resistant to the roguish ship captain's advances. Luc has spent much of his time alone, and when he meets Arabella he falls for her quickly. Each of them tries to ignore the feelings but they can't, and it leads to some undeniable sexual tension. The fact that Arabella is leery of his intentions makes Luc work extra hard to prove her wrong, and I loved that, though his demonstrations end up not helping his cause which is humorous.

Orphaned at a young age Arabella Caulfield and her two sisters Ravenna and Eleanor get taken in by a strict pastor, but still they wish to know why their parents abandoned them. Having limited options the girls turn to a Gypsy to get answers but instead the woman reveals a destiny one of them will follow. She tells them one of the sisters will marry a prince and that the jeweled ring—one of the few items they possess of their parents—will play a role in helping them discover the truth of their family. Years later Arabella—now a reputable finishing governess—has to sail to France, and she talks her way aboard a ship—a pirate vessel. The captain that goes by the name Andrew is much more than he appears to be, and Arabella starts to fall for him, and he for her but on their journey to France things go sideways and they stumble upon trouble. Andrew isn't who he says he is, Arabella isn't as forthcoming with answers, and their lives may very well be in danger.

There were some things I didn't care for about the story. The heroine is all of those wonderful things I mentioned earlier until a point. From midway on she starts to lose her fiery personality and tenacity—all the things that I enjoyed about her—and becomes even more mistrustful, less quirky, and unreasonably stubborn. Right at the end she gains some of it back but for awhile she's not the person you've gotten to know. Luc is not your average hero, he's handsome but his looks are marred by the loss of his eye and a scar across his brow. I thought it was great that Arabella looked past that and seen the kind and loving person underneath. In return, he also looked past her beauty and found intelligence, grace, and strength. They made a great match, and seeing them discover that was fun.

I was afraid of reading this book and not enjoying it—I'm glad that didn't happen
—and I did. I Married the Duke has many terrific characters, an amusing story with a mystery still in need of solving, and a heart-stirring romance. The female protagonist is a red-headed beauty with smarts, and the hero a handsome swashbuckling man with royal blood. Together they embark on an unpredictable adventure. If you enjoy slow-progressing romantic stories with a little action-adventure and mystery this is your book. It left me jubilant at the end, and curious to read about the other sister's fates in the future Prince Catchers novels.


Three very different sisters beguile society with their beauty and charm, but only one of them must fulfill a prophecy: marry a prince. Who is the mystery Prince Charming, and which sister will be his bride?On the way to marry a prince in a castle, a lady should never:

1. Bribe an infuriatingly arrogant and undeniably irresistible ship captain,
2. Let him kiss her senseless on a beach,
3. Battle thieves at his side,
4. Exchange wedding vows with him, even under the direst circumstances.

But daring, determined Arabella Caulfield isn’t just any lady. And Luc Westfall is no typical ship captain. He’s the new Duke of Lycombe, and to defeat a plot that could destroy his family he must have an heir. Now he knows just the woman for the job . . . and he’s not above seduction to turn this would-be princess into a duchess.


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