May 16, 2014
It's tricky title time.
Yes, I know, I know... most authors don't chose the titles that eventually get published for
Enough about the title, on to the book. This is the second in the American Heiress in London series and it revolves around Edie, Duchess of Margrave, and her husband, Stuart. Yes, yes it is one of my favorite story lines - a marriage of convenience. Here's a synopsis of the storyline: Stuart is in Africa, he's injured badly by a lion - flashback - flashback, Edie proposes a marriage of convenience to Stuart - he goes away forever and she maintains her freedom. He agrees, he leaves, she blossoms, she fixes his estates, she loves her freedom, he gets mauled, he returns, he wants a real marriage, she doesn't, she is not a happy camper, he bets her he can win her love in 10 days, he does, the end, sort of. In between those capstones there is some pretty well-developed characterization along with Guhrke's seemingly effortless writing.
Of the two main characters, Stuart is the one I was drawn to. I liked him a lot. Although, in the beginning he is painted as being a ne'er-do well, he is actually quite a nice guy. He's charming, sensitive, and pretty astute when it comes to figuring out what someone’s problem really is. In this case it is Edie's secret that he must solve. I did have a problem with Edie. She is a hard heroine to like. She is stubborn, distrustful, and for all of her sterling abilities in managing various estates and people, she is unable to actually see what a nice man Stuart is. Granted, she was physically abused and molested when she was younger, which causes her to panic at the thought of any kind of cohabitation with her husband. The problem I had with Edie was that for me she seemed to be such a strong, self-reliant woman that her reaction to Stuart's touch was a little bit out of character, and it went on for t-o-o long. I also wish that she had told Stuart her story. There could still have been some tension created - however, Stuart guessed what her problem was about half-way through the book so there wasn't a big misunderstanding. It still would have been nice if she had been the one to tell him, but either way it did add to Stuart's conundrum of how he was going to win his wife’s love and trust.
There were sometimes in the story that I thought the balance of storytelling was a bit off. There were moments of light-heartened manipulation from Stuart which struck a discordant note with me because I, the reader, knew of Edie's traumatic past and those moments just didn't go together... for me. Even with that quibble and the goofy title, I find How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days to be a satisfying read and a lovely addition to the American Heiress in London series.
Time/Place: Late Victorian England