Fri
Jan 22 2016 10:30am

First Look: Eloisa James’s My American Duchess (January 26, 2016)

Eloisa James
My American Duchess 
Avon Romance / January 26, 2016 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.

The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All is fair in love and war.

When authors play around with social status readers know that everything eventually is going to be topsy-turvy and that is what you get in Eloisa James’ delightful My American Duchess.

Miss Merry Pelford has gotten herself a reputation. In fact, people at home started calling her “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”  behind her back. Breaking two engagements does enforce the impression of being capricious and fickle. Her Aunt Bess, an American socialite just believes that Merry needs a wider pond, so the family pays a visit to England, the birthplace of Merry’s mother.

There Merry falls in love with Lord Cedric Allardyce, and considers herself one lucky girl to have won his love. She accepts his romantic proposal, and then watches a little forlornly as Cedric is drawn off to the cardroom. As a newly engaged woman, she thought her fiancé would want to spend time with her.

Passing time, she moves to the balcony and meets a dazzling man and she begins to questions her own steadfastness:

She took a seat along the walls and gave herself a good talking-to. What on earth was she thinking? Was she truly as fickle as the gossips back home believed? She might have made mistakes choosing her first two  fiancés, but she had never been truly capricious.

She had truly believed that she was in love with both Bertie and Dermot. She had never flirted with a man while betrothed to another.

Not that she had precisely flirted with this man.

All right, she had flirted.

Merry groaned silently. Why hadn’t she slapped him when he caught her around her waist, or at the least announced her status as soon-to-be married woman? Instead, she had just looked up at him like silly widgeon waiting to be kissed.

No wonder he’d been so amused. He likely thought her the veriest green girl, knocked head over heels by the magnificence of his black-clad presence.

It was all so embarrassing.

Well, not as embarrassing as discovering that the man she flirted with, is her future brother-in-law, Octavius Mortimer John Allardyce,  known as Trent or  the sixth Duke of Trent. In addition, Cedric has given her the family heirloom ring intended for  Trent’s duchess.

But it becomes clearly evident to Merry that her American ways will never let her become a proper English lady. She is mocked because of her manners, her Boston accent, and her frizzy curls. There are so many minefields. She believes that Cedric will be especially displeased with her, after she mistakenly asked for a slice of pineapple, that her hostess had rented to grace her table:

“I beg your pardon,” Merry exclaimed, at the very same moment that Lady Caroline turned her should and whispered loudly to their hostess, “One cannot expect persons from the Colonies to understand civilized behavior.”

“I declare that I would be terrified to travel into the wilderness, where no rules of polite society pertain,” Mrs. Bennet agreed. “Why, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a naked savage serving the table instead of a footman in livery! I shouldn’t have the faintest idea how to conduct myself as, indeed, is clearly the case for those who travel to our shores.”

With this, Aunt Bess rose, gathering her shawl and reticule. “I have most unfortunately developed a headache, and I’m afraid that I must take my leave.”

All thought of further apology had flown from Merry’s head. She leaned forward and smiled at their hostess. “I do assure you, Mrs. Bennett, that were you to visit my country, you would find our customs easy to negotiate. For example, In America, you won’t find even a single stalk of asparagus on the table unless your hostess wishes you to eat it. And unless your hostess owns the asparagus.”

But Merry is exactly the type of woman Trent is looking for. In fact, when he has the opportunity to console her, after she decides that she and his brother won’t suite, he can’t resist showing her:

He had promised himself he would be gentle when he kissed her. He was wrong.

It was a greedy kiss. He had never realized that a lady’s lips could be as voluptuous as a courtesan’s—but that the addition of surprise and innocence would make it a far headier experience that he had ever experienced.

To this point, Trent hadn’t particularly enjoyed kissing. It was too intimate. He’d never been selfish about giving pleasure, as he enjoyed bodily intimacy. All the same, he didn’t care for kissing.

You won’t want to miss this saucy romp, as Merry with her free-thinking hoyden ways unintentionally brings havoc and joy to her own stiff-upper-lip aristocrat. 

***

Learn more about or order a copy of My American Duchess by Eloisa James, available on January 26, 2016: 

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Scarlettleigh, Blogger

 

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