The Duke's Unexpected Bride

Lara Temple
The Duke's Unexpected Bride
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Harlequin HarperCollins
Release Date
April 2017
Historical Romance

When Sophie receives a summons to act as temporary companion to her reclusive great-aunt in London, the sum of her ambitions is to enjoy some respite from her large, loving, but judgmental family. The last thing she expects is to become nursemaid to a spoilt pug, the object of obsession for an embittered artist, and the fiancé of the man she has dubbed the Stone Duke and who unsettles her more than anyone she has ever met. Sophie has always been the odd one out and she knows she is as far from the Duke of Harcourt's ideal for his Duchess as imagination can contrive. But as circumstances and scandal force the Duke's hand and expose the fault lines in his rigid control, Sophie is determined to risk her heart in her belief that the Duke's stony exterior encloses a generous and passionate heart.

Ten years after his disastrous engagement, Max, the Duke of Harcourt, has every reason to be careful about choosing a bride the second time around. Sophie meets none of his criteria for a perfect duchess – she is impulsive, funny, artistic, talks to animals and strangers, and her compassion leads her time and again perilously close to danger. When malice and scandal force them into an engagement, Max does his best to show her how to fit into his world and the role of Duchess, but Sophie's irrepressible character won't be so easily molded. Their inevitable clash of wits, passions, and private pain lead to near tragedy and to the realization that the irrepressible Sophie and the Stone Duke are perfectly matched.

Book Review by Blue (reviewer)
Jul 13, 2017   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
127 people found the following review helpful
4.5 Stars

Sophie Trevelyan has been summoned to town to visit her Aunt Minerva, aka Mad Minnie. Sophie relishes the chance to leave her crowded home, though she suspects that her sojourn won't be of a long duration. Several of her relations have each had their turn, and have soon been sent back to the country by Aunt Minerva, who finds some fault with them. Sophie is determined to at least hold the record for longest stay, and if that means she has to find a way to coax Minerva's lazy pug, Marmaduke, out for a walk, she'll do it.

Surprisingly, Sophie is able to lure Marmaduke outside, and even more shocking, he finds that he has a liking for chasing birds. His exuberance almost has him barreling into a gentleman and lady out for a stroll. Unbeknownst to Sophie, the gentleman is Max, Duke of Harcourt, and his sister Hetty, and they are neighbors of her aunt. Sophie happily chatters away, charming Hetty, while leaving the straight laced duke both attracted and appalled by her outgoing friendliness.

Max's sister Hetty is in town to help him find a wife – a proper wife with a pedigree who will always behave with decorum. Max promised his father to marry by age thirty-one, and the deadline is approaching. While a young man, Max was engaged to, and thought himself in love with, Serena, an outgoing and unconventional young lady. That relationship turned out to be disastrous and ended tragically with Serena's death. Since then, Max has been a model of decorum, and is determined that his marriage will be tranquil and civilized, and love is definitely not a requirement. Still, Max is drawn to Sophie despite himself. As they continue to meet, he finds himself falling for her. When a sticky situation happens, Max impulsively declares them engaged.

I enjoyed reading this story so much! I loved seeing the ever proper Max shaken out of his ducal doldrums. It was obvious that he's a good man who was scarred by his previous fiancée's actions and was trying to do the right thing, even at the expense of his own happiness. Sophie was pure delight, and her honesty and joie de vivre brought light and fun into Max's life. The developing romance is very sweet, while their attraction is steamy. The lazy pug added some smileworthy moments, and a twist near the end added some drama. THE DUKE'S UNEXPECTED BRIDE was excellent entertainment from beginning to end and was a joy to read.
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