From the publisher:
Miss Julia Beaumont has exactly one night to find herself a husband…
The Weatherford Ball is the last chance Julia Beaumont has to escape the clutches of her horrid stepmother. Any potential husband will do―rich, poor, even a reasonably well-groomed walrus. But all of Julia’s matrimonial chances are completely obliterated…thanks to the actions of an infuriating and utterly rakish duke.
Gregory Carter, Duke of Ashworth, would never risk his cherished bachelorhood by flirting with marriage-starved debutantes. But one look at the luscious and refreshingly clever Julia, and he simply can’t resist a stolen kiss―scandal be damned. Then just as things start getting deliciously interesting, the lady flees…leaving only a slipper behind.
And it must have been one dandy of a kiss. Because now Julia has proposed to him. After all, the lady needs a husband, and this roguish duke will certainly do. It’s simply a matter of making him the perfect scandalous offer…https://amzn.to/3Z2zFEd
Julia is the Cinderella in this story. She lost her mother as a young child, her father remarried, hoping to find a good mother for Julia. But when her father dies, her stepmother’s true colors come out and she decides to keep Julia at home as her personal servant. She isn’t locked in the basement, but she may as well be. She isn’t allowed to participate in the marriage mart that the ton favors. That is until her young stepsister makes her debut.
When Julia’s stepmother falls ill, it is up to Julia to chaperone her stepsister at the ball of the season. Julia has no ballgowns, or mice or even a fairy godmother to help make her one. But she does have some gowns of her mother’s, and the ability to sew and make the necessary repairs and alterations, which she does. While at the ball she witnesses the notorious rake, the Duke of Ashworth, called out to fight yet another duel. She gets an idea to rescue him and it works. The duke has determined never to marry as he favors cavorting with the unhappily married women of the ton. But these duels are getting tiresome, so when Julia offers him a way out, he goes for it.
Julia’s idea is for them to marry in name only. That will get all the husbands off his back, and will let Julia escape her stepmother and the life she abhors. The only problem is their chemistry is off the charts. They decide to consummate the marriage, for Julia’s protection, then just live their own lives. Best laid plans go awry when they really fall for each other, but there are roadblocks, always, until they find their happily ever after.
This was a really fun read and a good way to kick off the new year! The characters were charming and the story more or less believable, with some steamy scenes to keep things interesting. I can only hope that this is the start of a series.
1/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
CINDERELLA AND THE DUKE by Lydia Drake. Entangled: Amara (December 27, 2022). ISBN: 978-1649373144. 352p.