A DUCHESS IN NAME
The Grantham Girls #1
Releasing on January 18, 2016.
Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement.
Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know.
Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.
*swoons hard* Oh what did I read??? I am in awe. I am intrigued. I have opened a new genre of historical romance for myself. From page one I was swept off my feet in Amanda Weaver’s writing (perhaps it has something to do with her last name?!? Hmmm…). You can always tell when an author is passionate about their writing and characters that come alive in the fact that from first sentence you feel like you have stepped into a time machine and suddenly became a fly in the wall and this time I was a fly in London, 1891 time. A time where new American money married to old English titles that can give to the viciousness of today’s Wall Street Bankers a run for their money. The sport into marrying up to increase status or increase wealth is a ruthless one. No rules. No proprieties. Game On! Let the best schemer win.
That is exactly the life that our American heiress, Victoria Carson, has known all her life. She lives and breathes for the sole purpose of being groomed to be presented into British Society of dukes and earls for marriage to gain a title to her exceptionally wealthy American family. Family that cares none for her wishes or desires except elevating themselves into said Society, particularly Victoria’s mother. Unfortunately, for Victoria, fortunately for us as there is a big pot of drama swirling around. The society and the sharks of the Society of royalty very much reminded me of Jane Eye’s Pride & Prejudice and especially Fanny Burney’s Evelina; so if you have read either of those books you have an idea of what Victoria deals with on top of still being perceived as an American outsider on top of all things.
She didn’t need a dream, she only hoped to avoid a nightmare.
So therefore, when her parents’ plans for her future come to pass she is ready for the worst. Andrew Hargrave has run away from his family to dig up ancient artifacts in the hillsides of Italy, except he hasn’t exactly run away but escaped. His family is everything that is the worst of high-bred royalty… full of over-indulgence, secrets, no shame and over entitlement but the only thing of redeeming qualities is the Title of Duke. Perfect combination and recipe to make a marriage happen. With his family falling apart Andrew does what he must do to save his family from basically becoming beggars who will be mocked with ‘Your Grace”.
Marriage is tricky business. Marriage between two strangers who know they are pawns is even trickier when there is no trust. I believe this will be the first book where I grew frustrated with a hero rather than a heroine. Andrew has tested my patience and understanding to the limit. On the other hand I was impressed with how much fight and backbone Victoria had in her. How much strength was beneath all that finely polished exterior. Turns out underneath all that was pure steel. All of it may occur in fiction and plus 150 years ago my namesake is a total badass and progress of woman independence. No seriously! She was a badass. Without giving any spoilers as there is SO. MUCH. GOODNESS to uncover in this fabulous book. Better yet in this series.
Although we do say goodbye to Victoria and Andrew (but perhaps not forever) as the series will continue the tale of HEA with lots of angst for Victoria’s dear friends and fellow graduates of Lady Grantham’s finishing school.
Victoria concentrated on her breathing as she watched the girls disappear into the garden. When she was sure they were out of earshot, she glanced back at her husband again. He smiled at her. Smiled! A warm, casual smile, as if his appearing at Briarwood out of the blue when she hadn’t seen or spoken to him in six months was nothing at all out of the ordinary.
“What are you doing here?” she demanded.
He blinked and took a step back. “I…I came to visit my sisters. My wife.”
She snorted and crossed her arms over her chest. “Indeed?”
“We weren’t expecting you.”
“I didn’t realize I’d need to wait on an invitation to be allowed to visit my own home.”
Victoria’s fury, already bubbling under the surface, burst into flame. “Well, you’ve spent quite a bit of time making it clear in no uncertain terms that this is no home of yours. Eventually I got used to the idea.”
He looked almost abashed. His every reaction was so far from what she’d come to expect from him, she was left feeling caught out. But she wasn’t ready to relinquish her anger, even if he refused to meet it with his own.
“Yes, I’m sorry I’ve been so uninvolved with the house.”
“Uninvolved? You’ve been entirely absent! I’m sure the neighbors all think I’ve made you up.”
“I’m sorry,” he said simply.
She stopped and blinked at him. “What?”
“I’m sorry.” He raised his hands and let them drop. “I should have been here. I should have helped you.”
“Oh.” He’d taken the heat right out of her fury, damn him. She floundered helplessly for a biting comeback but came up empty-handed. Where was the cold, heartless man she’d come to expect? Surely any second he’d snap at her and mock her for slaving away in the countryside to rebuild this house. Or he’d attempt to lure her back into bed just so he could unravel her and abandon her again. She’d been such a naive little fool where he was concerned. Well, she was no fool now. She finally had the measure of him and she’d be damned if he’d make a fool of her one more time.