August 20, 2013
"Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin' is the life for me.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide.
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue.
You are my wife.
Good bye, city life.
Green Acres we are there."
Why Dukes Say I Do by Manda Collins is the first in the Wicked Widows series, and I suspect that they aren't really wicked. I also suspect that the killing we are witness to in the first chapter is to be what connects this series.
Our heroine is Lady Isabella Wharton, a widow and an escapee from an abusive marriage. She is also the god-daughter to a conniving woman, the Dowager Duchess of Ormonde, who isn't above blackmail to get what she wants. What she wants in this case is for Isabella to traipse out to the country, and drag the dowagers recalculate grandson, Trevor, the current Duke, to London.
When Trevor and Isabella meet it is two worlds clashing. Isabella is a city girl who thinks Trevor is a county bumpkin. Trevor is a hard-working country gentleman who thinks Isabella is a town fribble. The both hate each other's worlds immensely. Entering into Trevor's hatred of the city is also his blindness to the fact that his sisters are growing up. One especially is a seventeen-year-old who he has isolated from the big bad London world. (Although, I thought while reading this book that there had to have been thousands of young ladies that never made it to London and probably lived full and productive lives.)
The story was an interesting study of two opposites who learn to respect each other and eventually grow to love each other. Because I was enjoying how well this couple was working together I was a little thrown by a silly misunderstanding that happens after they are married. The misunderstanding went totally against the trust that Trevor and Isabella had built and in my opinion was a distraction to the storyline.
Also a bit of a distraction were the mysterious threatening notes that Isabella was receiving. I think the story could have been a strong story without the outside interference. And by the way, I knew who it was right away and when the big reveal happened it was a bit over dramatic for my taste.
For the most part, I enjoyed the romance between Trevor and Isabella - their budding relationship was a treat to watch. That part of the book had a smooth, gentle flow. When the mystery appeared that flow became a frenzy.
I would encourage Ms. Collins to leave some of these peripheral elements out of her stories because I believe she could have a strong voice amongst authors who can write about relationships, such as Mary Balogh or Lisa Kleypas. I for one would enjoy her story without the mystery.
P.S. Authors, be careful what names you give to your characters - choosing to name a character Moneypenny will only throw a reader out of a story and may make them start singing "Goldfinger, he's the man...the man with the Midas touch..."
Time/Place: Regency England