The Duchess of Love (Prelude to Duchess of Love Series)

Sally MacKenzie
The Duchess of Love (Prelude to Duchess of Love Series)
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Release Date
April 2012
Book 1 of The Duchess of Love Series
Historical Romance


The day was as hot as the pond was inviting. It's not as if anyone in Little Huffington was going to happen upon a secluded vale on the Duke of Greycliffe's lands. And Venus Collingswood didn't want to get her shift all wet. It was the perfect setting in which to plan her lovely bookworm of a sister's betrothal to the mysterious new duke arriving seven days hence. If only she had a suitable accomplice . . .

Andrew Valentine, Duke of Greycliffe, never thought arriving at his own household a week early would cause so much trouble. The housekeeper thinks he's his own cousin. Actually, the chance to not be the duke for a while is a pleasant opportunity indeed. It might even help him interrogate the delectable little nymph he's discovered swimming in his pond-if he can manage to get a word in edgewise . . .

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jul 23, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
100 people found the following review helpful
The opening novella of the Duchess of Love series is a lighthearted, humorous little treat of a story that tells the story of the Duchess' own romance as a young girl. Sally MacKenzie seldom disappoints, and in this story, she delivers a sweet, unconventional tale that sets the stage for a whole new generation of romantics to come.

Life in Little Huffington is anything but exciting. Especially for a young, vivacious and clever young lady like Venus Collingswood. With her father, the local clergyman, her mother and older sister, Aphrodite, all consumed by their Latin translations and their academic pursuits, Venus is often left to her own devices. When the summer weather grows unbearable, she goes for a walk on the Duke of Greycliffe's lands, desiring nothing more than a swim in the secluded pond. Having heard that the Duke is soon to arrive, Venus' mind is full of plans to match her sister with the mysterious Duke—so she never hears the sound of an approaching figure as she leaps into the water with nary a stitch on her.

Andrew Valentine, Duke of Greycliffe, and his cousin, Nigel, decided to escape London a week early, desperate to escape the clutches of the marriage-minded misses and conniving young widows. When the housekeeper at his country estate mistakes him for his own cousin, Drew sees the chance for a week's reprieve from the burden of responsibility he's carried since assuming his title at the age of thirteen. But when his decision to take a cooling swim in the lake brings him face to face with a very beautiful—and very underdressed—young miss who also believes him to be "Mr. Valentine" rather than the Duke of Greycliffe, his plans for a simple deception suddenly grow infinitely more complicated.

Sally MacKenzie's trademark warmth and humor are out in full force in this story. Venus is a genuinely loveable heroine, who is innocent without being too naïve, and determined without overpowering her hero-in-training (not to mention very goal-oriented when it comes to matchmaking). Her love for her eccentric family, most especially for her bookworm sister, is endearing, and her honesty is a welcome refreshment.

I wasn't as sure about Drew at the beginning—he is, in fact, quite young, and despite references to his past in London, he comes across as far more innocent than most of Sally MacKenzie's heroes. However, his lighthearted love-at-first-sight story with Venus (alright, maybe at second sight, but still…) was so endearing that I couldn't help but fall for him as well. Rather than being a manipulator or trying to deceive Venus, he got himself stuck in a situation that rapidly fell out of his control, and the mayhem it caused kept the plot moving along at a very enjoyable clip.

Though the story did feel a bit rushed at times, I was charmed by Venus' unconventional romance with her erstwhile Duke. Having already met both Venus and Drew in the full-length Bedding Lord Ned as adults, it was really sweet to see how their relationship began. This is a charming beginning to the Duchess of Love series, and a perfect introduction to those legendary matchmaking talents that will doubtless make the rest of the series a pleasure to read.
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