Published by Avon on February 28th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The unexpected duchess
Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?
It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of her depth, she calls on an expert. And what an expert, with shoulders broad enough to lean on, and a wit that matches her own. Archie is supposed to teach her to be a lady and run her estate, but what she really wants to do is unladylike—run into his arms.
Thanks for having me here today!
The premise of My Fair Duchess is (beyond the obvious My Fair Lady similarities) is that a woman becomes a duke in her own right. That would normally never happen. Usually, titles were passed down to the next closest male, even if the next closest male was a second cousin or something and there were perfectly good daughters who could inherit.
But there is a real-life example of a lady inheriting a title, and that was because the Duke of Marlborough had achieved his title, and he had two sons, but both died before he did, so his entire legacy was in jeopardy. Unless one of his daughters inherited the title.
Because the duke and his wife had friends in government (being a duke and duchess, after all), Parliament passed an Act that made it legal for a daughter to be given the same rights as a son, so when the Duke died, his eldest daughter could inherit.
My duchess gets the title unexpectedly, and has to figure out how to suddenly manage being one of the most important people in the country after growing up in the country with no expectation of anything. She needs help, and that’s where the My Fair Lady comparison begins—a gentleman is brought in, reluctantly, to help her navigate the ducal waters. She isn’t a lowly flower-seller, but she has no clue how to handle herself in Society, and she is terrified at somehow messing it up.
She doesn’t mess it up (spoiler!) and she gets a hot guy to show her how to dance and behave and then she gets to kiss him a lot, so it all works out.
1845, Lady Sophia’s Drawing Room
“There’s only one solution,” Lady Sophia said, passing the letter to Archie as he felt his stomach drop. And his carefully ordered life teeter on the verge of change. “You’ll have to go to London to sort my goddaughter out.” She embellished her point by squeezing her tiny dog Truffles, who emitted a squeak and glared at Archie. As if it was his fault.
He resisted the urge to crumple the paper in his hand. “But the festival is in a few weeks,” Archie said, hearing the desperate tone in his voice. He did not want to ever return to London. That was the purpose of taking a position out here in the country after leaving the Queen’s Own Hussars a year prior. His family was there, and his father, at least, had made it clear he never wanted to see him again. What’s more, he did not want to assist a helpless aristocrat in some sort of desperate attempt to bring order to their lives. Even though that was what he was doing in Lady Sophia’s employ. But working for her had come to have its own kind of satisfactory order, one he did not want to disrupt.
“There is work to be done,” Archie continued, hoping to appeal to his employer’s sensible side.
Although in the course of working for her he had come to realize his employer didn’t really have a sensible side, so what was he hoping to accomplish?
“Didn’t you tell me Mr. McCready could do everything you could?” Lady Sophia asked. “You pointed out that if you were to get ill, or busy with other matters, your assistant steward could handle things just as well as you.”
That was when I was trying to get one of my men work, Archie thought in frustration. To help him get back on his feet after the rigors of war. And Bob had proven himself to be a remarkably able assistant, allowing Archie to dive into Lady Sophia’s woefully neglected accounts and see into her investments, neither of which she paid any attention to.
Lady Sophia placed Truffles on the rug before lifting her head to look at Archie. Who knew, in that moment, that he was doomed. Doomed to return to London to help out a likely far-too- indulged female in the very difficult position of being a powerful and wealthy aristocrat.
Perhaps it would have been easier to just get shot on the battlefield. It certainly would have been quicker.
“It’s settled.” She punctuated her words with a nod of her head, sending a few gray curls flying in the air. “You will go see to the new duchess and take care of her as ably as you do me. Mr. Mc-Cready will assist me while you are away.”
Archie looked at the letter again. “This duchess is your relative?” he asked. That would explain the new duchess’s equally silly mode of communication. An “unexpected duchess,” indeed. What kind of idiot wouldn’t have foreseen this circumstance? And done something to prepare for it?
“She calls me aunt, but she is not my actual niece, you understand,” Lady Sophia explained. “She is my goddaughter; her mother married the duke, the duchess’s father. It is quite unusual for a woman to inherit the duchy.”
“Quite,” Archie echoed.
“But it happened, somehow, and since I don’t know anything about being a duchess . . .” Because I do? Archie wondered. But there wasn’t anybody else. She wouldn’t have asked Lady Sophia, of all people, unless there was nobody else.
Or if she was as flighty and confident as her faux-aunt. A scenario that seemed more and more likely.
“The only thing Mr. McCready can’t do is attract as much feminine interest as you do, Mr. Salisbury.” She sat back up and regarded him. “Which might make him more productive,” she added. She leaned over to offer Truffles the end of her biscuit.
Archie opened his mouth to object, but closed it when he realized she was right. He wasn’t vain, but he did recognize that ladies tended to find his appearance attractive. Lady Sophia received many more visitors, she’d told him in an irritated tone, now that he’d been hired.
Bob, damn his eyes, smirked knowingly every time Archie was summoned to Lady Sophia’s drawing room to answer yet another question about estate management posed by a lady who’d likely never had such a question in her life.
Archie responded by making Bob personally in charge of the fertilizer. It didn’t stop Bob’s smirking, but it did make Archie feel better.
“And you will return in a month’s time so you can be here for the festival.”
“Sooner if I can, my lady.” If this duchess needed more time than a month, there would be no hope for her anyway. Country life suited him; he liked its quiet and regularity. It was a vast change from life in battle, or even being just on duty, but it was far more interesting than being the third son from a viscount’s family. A viscount who disowned his third boy when said boy was determined to join the army.
Meanwhile, however, he had to pack to head off to a new kind of battle—that of preparing a completely unprepared woman, likely a woman as flighty and often confused as Lady Sophia, to hold a position that she was entirely unsuited for.
Very much like working with raw recruits, in fact.
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~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
My Fair Duchess is the fifth book in the Dukes Behaving Badly series by Megan Frampton. It can easily be read as a stand alone novel.
Genevieve has the very rare, unheard of role as Duchess of Blakesley foist upon her. She never expected it and certainly hadn’t been taught all that was necessary to learn in order to take up the mantle. She is like a fish out of water and calls on her ‘Aunt’ to please help her. In answer to her call for help her aunt sends her very proper, very handsome Steward, Archibald Salisbury.
Archie is the third son of a viscount, and he is well versed on how proper aristocratic people should behave. He couldn’t stand to see how his father, and more than likely his brother to follow, treated the Viscountcy. Not enough care was given to the tenants or the estates. In order to get away from it he joined the army, and although he became a war hero, his father disowned him before he even left to fight. He didn’t change his mind when he came home. When he finished his duty, Archie found a job as Genevieve’s Aunt’s steward and he’s been very happy there ever since. He is quite horrified at the thought of going to London to teach a woman how to be a duchess. He imagines she’s a brainless ninny and that she’s matronly to boot. But it’s his employers wish, and he has to accept the job.
As soon as Genevieve sees him she can’t get over how utterly gorgeous he is. How on Earth is she to concentrate on anything when all she wants to do is kiss him all over! The attraction becomes mutual and they both end up having to remind themselves of their positions, what’s expected of Genevieve, and the fact that it would be most improper if they so much as hold hands.
Can they fight their attraction, be happy perhaps with a quick kiss and fondle, all while making sure that a bad light isn’t shed upon Genevieve who is trying to prove that she can do as good a job as any Duke and that people should respect her. Or will they give in to their passions knowing nothing can come of it, but with the possibility of being discovered?!
This was such a fun, light hearted read. I adored the bickering and flirting between Archie and Genevieve. The way he whispered to her what he would love to do with her while they were in no position to carry out what he wanted was so naughty of him. You just wanted Genevieve to say, blast being a Duchess, and grab him to make out! There was a fabulous chemistry between them, and I love how protective he was of her and how he puts his all into teaching her how to run her estates and being a proper lady. There was even a funny scene where he has to act the part of a woman, role playing with Genevieve so that she could learn to behave with people of different stations in life. I can’t help but laugh now while I think of it. I guarantee that you won’t be able to read this book without having a smile on your face most of the time.
There was only one thing lacking, and that is an epilogue. I really feel that one would have been ideal because there are a couple of things that need to be seen through to the conclusion. You will know what they are when you reach the end of the book. BUT it certainly doesn’t spoil the book, or the fact that it is a wonderful story, it just would have added so much to it if it had an epilogue.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers’ Copy of this book.