From the publisher:
All Lady Victoria Kirby wants is to dig in the dirt, take notations, and record history, thank you very much. Bumbling through ballrooms and getting disdained by the ton for her less than ideal looks, on the other hand, is the last thing she wants. But her reckless father has a different idea for her future when he puts up the ultimate ante—her hand in marriage—and loses. Over her dead body.
The Duke of Chase cannot bear to see a woman misused. After all, he saw that often enough as a child. So when he’s witness to a marquess gambling away his daughter to a lecher of a man, he has no choice but to step in and rescue her. Lady Victoria has a reputation for being as tart as a lemon and as bitter as one, too. So, he may have just found the perfect wife to keep a promise he made to himself long ago–to never have an heir. With her, surely, he’ll never be tempted to take her to bed and break that promise.
But when he meets the wild, witty intelligent young lady he’s bound to marry, he knows trouble is headed his way… And everything he ever swore to uphold may very well come undone, especially his heart.
There is an unusual setup here for a Regency romance; Lady Victoria’s father has put her up as collateral for a bet at his club. He is rolling the dice on her future with an old lech, and the Duke of Chase, a bystander, is not going to let that happen. One of the most sought after single men in London, the Duke comes from a very old, very distinguished family and is one of the richest men in London as well. He has vowed to never marry or have children, but Lady Victoria has a reputation as being a very plain woman, and a very bright woman, with a sharp tongue. She may be the answer to his prayers; if he marries her, he’ll have a Duchess he has no desire for. She is also very independent and works as an assistant to her father, an archeologist. That is where her passions lie.
Victoria cannot believe her beloved father would force her into marriage, but he has. She meets with the Duke, and he outlines his plans; she will have the income and freedom to do whatever she wants, and so will he. Theirs will be a true marriage of convenience, with each of them living their own lives.
Chase has a terrible reputation as a womanizer, and has caused several women in the ton to get divorced. What no one knows is that in truth, he never sleeps with any of them. These are women trapped in bad marriages, like his mother was, and he helps them escape their confines by helping them get divorced and supporting them as needed. No one knows about his good deeds, and he certainly isn’t going to tell his new wife.
Chase has an assignation scheduled for a few days after the wedding. Victoria agreed to allowing him to continue being a rake without complaint, but he feels badly about it. It cannot be helped, so off her goes. When her husband walks in on them, he jumps out the window as his wife is driving by in the Ducal carriage. She stops to let him in, and doesn’t say much at all. He is amazed that she isn’t yelling or crying, and he is impressed even more with her. Chase is drawn to her despite himself, and he especially loves the way she is so thoughtful and smart about everything. She soon figures out that he is not at all what he portrays himself to be.
They end up as lovers, but he is always very careful not to get her pregnant. He may have broken his vow to never marry, but is determined to never produce an heir. Instead, the Dukedom will go to his wastrel of a cousin. But things between Chase and Victoria get more complicated, and she decides it is time to travel the world, excavating wherever she can. But rest assured, these two find their happily ever after.
This was a really fun, fast read. The characters are developed enough that I wanted them to find their happiness, and the story was a good one. This author was new to me, but I would certainly read her again.
10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE WEDDING WAGER by Eva Devon. Entangled: Amara (October 25, 2021). ASIN: B0951RX59Z. 277 pages.