Laura Lee Guhrke
How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (An American Heiress in London)
Avon / April 29, 2014 / $7.19 print, $6.99 digital
From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.
By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?
In Laura Lee Guhrke's How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, Edie Jewell is an American Heiress in London, desperate to gain a husband so she won't have to return to the States and face a scandal she left behind. But she doesn't really want a husband; she wants independence and she thinks she's found it when she hears about Stuart.
Stuart's a duke, but with barely a penny to go with the title. He wants to take care of his estates, but his heart is in Africa where he had lived and explored for several years. Edie makes a deal with him: she will marry him, save and tend his estates and he can go back to Africa—as long as he never returns. Stuart agrees, but five years later, things change when he is attack by a lioness.
“I saw men digging my grave, Edie. I watched them do it. I knew I was dying, and I can't begin to describe what that was like, except to say that that changes a man. It makes him instantly, keenly aware that everything he thought was important isn't important at all. It forces him to look at his life in a whole new light, reconsider his choices, perhaps make new ones-”
“And just which of your choices,” she interrupted, “are you reconsidering?”
“I realized it was time for me to come home, take care of my estates, and you.”
“I don't need taking care of.”
He could see her expression hardening as she said it, but he persevered, for it had to be said. “I want to do my duty to my estates and my family and my marriage. I want to be a real husband.” He paused, then added, “With a real wife.”
Edie is, of course, horrified. She has good reason to not want Stuart—or any man—in her life. They make a new deal: if Stuart can convince Edie to kiss him within ten days, they will try to make their marriage real. If not, Stuart will sign a separation permanent agreement. He likes his chances.
“I think you were at least a little bit attracted to me the moment you first saw me. I know damned sure I was attracted to you.”
“Oh you were not!”
“Indeed, I was. From the moment we met, I thought you were the most fascinating bit of skirt I'd ever seen. I even told you as much, if memory serves.”
“Yes, but you didn't mean it.”
“Of course I meant it.”
He gave a laugh at her astonished face. “For God's sake, do you think I'd have married you otherwise?”
“We both you know you married me for the money!”
“Your money, as lovely and fortuitous as it was, my sweet, wouldn't have persuaded me to the altar. I knew what my family's financial situation was before I was fifteen, and if money was all I needed to tempt me to matrimony, I'd have married long before we met. No, I married you because although I've known plenty of women, I've never known one quite like you. I've never known one who could make we want her even while she's making it so painfully clear that she doesn't want me. That intrigued me and attracted me, partly because - forgive me if I sound conceited - but it was rather a novelty. I wasn't used to it. But when the novelty wore off, the fascination didn't.”
Reading Stuart's slow seduction of Edie is fun, and seeing Edie let go of her fears is moving. But watching Stuart and Edie fall in love is lovely and sweet and exactly what I'm looking for when I read romance.
Learn more or pre-order a copy of How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke, out April 29, 2014:
Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com.