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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday Review: The Unexpected Duchess by Valerie Bowman

Throwback Thursday Reviews is dedicated to those books that have been around for years but you’ve only recently discovered. They’re the “New but Old” reads that are just too good NOT to talk about! Why not share them anyway? They may end up being a “New Read” for someone else too! After all, there’s no such thing as “Too Many Books!”

This Week’s Throwback Thursday Book is:The Unexpected Duchess by Valerie Bowman

Format: Paperback
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: April 29, 2014

In This Battle of Wits

Lady Lucy Upton’s tongue may be too sharp to attract suitors but her heart is good, and when her painfully shy friend Cassandra needs help she devises a brilliant scheme to help her discourage an unwanted suitor, the Duke of Claringdon. Lucy will hide behind the hedgerow and tell Cass just what to say to discourage the duke…but it turns out that he’s made of sterner stuff than either of them anticipated. And Lucy is shocked to discover that tangling with the tenacious man is the most fun she’s had in ages.

Kisses Are the Best Weapon

Lord Derek Hunt made a promise to his dying friend to marry the demure Cassandra, and for a man who wants nothing more than peace and quiet after the horrors of war, she’ll make the perfect bride. If only the impudent Miss Upton will let him court the girl! Doing battle is the last thing on his mind, but bantering with Lucy behind the bushes is too tempting to resist. And the spoils of this war just may be true love…

Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon made a promise to a dying friend to marry Lady Cassandra Monroe and that’s just what he’s going to do. Except that the Lady isn’t keen on marrying him and her friend is determined to help her thwart his efforts at courting her.

Lucy Upton would do anything to help her friend Cassandra escape a loveless marriage, even if the man is an honorable one. So Lucy does what she does best, she intervenes every chance she gets so that Derek doesn’t have a chance to court Cassandra. Lucy and Derek’s bantering quickly turns into something steamier and more complicated though.

Derek is a reluctant everything really. Having survived the war, all he wants is peace and quiet which is definitely NOT what he gets with Lucy but guess what? It makes him feel alive again and what he thought he wanted wasn’t what he actually needed in the end. He’s a noble character, with noble intentions but I loved that Valerie Bowman made him seem like a living, breathing feeling man instead of just a title. When his feelings about marrying Cassandra changed it presented Derek with a genuine conflict and I really liked how problematic that made things for him yet he was pretty good at communicating his concerns with Cassandra and later with Lucy. I thought Derek was a good balance of take charge alpha male and considerate friend.

What are friends for right? Lucy was such a bold and daring character that she had a habit of overshadowing almost anyone who was in a scene with her. I liked her style of dealing with problems: Confront them head on, or you know, from behind the bushes. Lucy’s loyalty and devotion to Cassandra really won me over because there was nothing Lucy wouldn’t do for her friends. Sometimes her methods felt a little “Bull in a china shop” and she needed to learn the art of subtlety but her intentions were almost always in the right place.

The sparks really flew between Derek and Lucy from the very beginning. Lucy has a strong personality and could easily steam roller over a lesser man but Derek was more than ready for a challenge and these two really did challenge each other over the course of the book. I enjoyed that part of their unusual courtship and it of course lead to some serious heat and emotion.

I’ve already read Jane and Garrett’s story but it was great to see the verbal sparring between the bookworm and the rake from the very beginning. I also enjoyed Cassandra because while she seemed the sort to let her family control her, there were moments that she showed more of a spine. I hope that is an aspect of her character that is brought forward in the future.

Final Verdict: I loved being able to read The Unexpected Duchess and see the brazen Lucy fall hard for Derek. The friendships in this book are so strong and give the story such an emotional pull that I hope to see more of them in future books.

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