The Inconvenient Duchess

Christine Merrill
The Inconvenient Duchess
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Harlequin Historical
Release Date
August 2012
Historical Romance

"Dear Cici and Father,

I have come to Devon and married a duke. And I'm more tired and hungry than I have ever been in my life. Please let me come home."

Compromised and wedded on the same day, Lady Miranda was fast finding married life not to her taste. A decaying manor and a secretive husband were hardly the stuff of girlish dreams. Yet every time she looked at dark, brooding Marcus Radwell, Duke of Haughleigh, she felt inexplicably compelled—and determined—to make their marriage real!

Book Review by JCCeleste (reviewer)
Jan 19, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
132 people found the following review helpful
THE INCONVENIENT DUCHESS is historical romance novelist Christine Merrill's debut novel, newly released in ebook format. It is a treat to read her first, and it's surprisingly good. (And it's free as a Nook Book and Kindle download!)

Lady Miranda is a noblewoman in title only as her family's disgrace has cost her any real status or claim to the elite noble's world. She seeks the opportunity to meet a peer and secure her place by marriage. However, when she arrives at the home of her guardian's friend, having been promised a meeting with the son, Marcus Radwell, Duke of Haughleigh, she is despaired of any hope.

Yes, she gets what she wished for, but her marriage is as false as her title, and just as unfulfilling. Abandoned by her so-called husband on her wedding night, she must take the reins of a failing estate, whip together a semblance of order, and stave off the becoming attentions of the Duke's rakish brother, St. John. However, the brothers have a bitter history and Miranda is caught in the crossfire of St. John's revenge.

As Miranda juggles her onset of duties as a duchess, the secrets of her past and of one bittersweet moment, and her suspicions that her husband (if he can be considered that when they have yet to consummate the marriage) may have secrets of his own, she finds herself falling in love with the man she barely knows, and coming into her own as a true duchess. But her troubles with St. John and her past are far from over; will they haunt her remaining days or can she yet know a happy ending?

I enjoyed the setting, the characterizations and the pacing. It was an excellent "read at once on a rainy afternoon" story.

I don't know much about the period so I can't comment on the historical accuracy of THE INCONVENIENT DUCHESS, but it reminded me of my favorite Jane Austen moments where the heroine has her own heart, spirit, strength, and she's thrown into an awful situation but she finds a foothold in the cliff and makes her way. This story also has the sweet romance of the Austen novels, with tension building between the two characters as they try to feel each other out, test the waters of this strange union they have found themselves committed to. Then the story goes beyond what any Austen novel ever could, with a glimpse into what happens behind the closed doors. The love scenes are perfect for the mood; possessive occasionally, but mostly tender.

This was my first introduction to historical romance beyond the domain of Austen, and it was fun. I wanted to go out and read more books by Ms. Merrill. (I haven't read these, but fans of THE INCONVENIENT DUCHESS might want to know the escapades of St. John continue in An Unladylike Offer, A Wicked Liaison, and in a standalone short Seducing A Stranger.)
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Book Review by Victoria Lane (reviewer)
Apr 11, 2014
120 people found the following review helpful
THE INCONVENIENT DUCHESS by Christine Merrill provides a classic early Regency period romance that can be enjoyed by any fan of romance. I give it three stars.

In the novel, Lady Miranda Grey shows up on the doorstep of Marcus Radwell, the fourth Duke of Haughleigh, in the middle of a storm, expecting to meet and possibly marry the duke. The machinations of Marcus' mother induced Miranda's visit, but unbeknownst to Miranda, the dowager duchess died six weeks before her arrival.

Stranded in the Haughleigh house with two unmarried men, Miranda has little choice but to accept Marcus' reluctant and unromantic proposal. A marriage is hastily conducted, and with only a note to inform his vulnerable new wife, Marcus immediately travels to London to take care of marriage legalities.

While Marcus is away, his exiled and bitter younger brother, St. John, uses his charm and good looks to sow discord in the already fragile marriage. When Marcus returns home, Miranda is so suspicious of him and insecure in the marriage that drama and misunderstandings abound.

For the most part, I enjoyed this novel. The marital challenges seem authentic for a hastily arranged marriage. The insecurity and uncertainty about what the other partner thinks and feels is typical for any relationship, and certainly magnified in this arranged marriage. The romance is graphic, appropriate for adults only.

The characters and dialogue tend to be believable, but there is a feeling of overreliance on narration to convey the thoughts and feelings of the characters. There is also a bit too much rumination of those thoughts and feelings (at least on Miranda's part), and occasionally, those thoughts seem contrived. For example, after a serious heart to heart conversation about how terrible Marcus' first marriage was and how shallow, deceitful and opportunistic his first wife was, Miranda walks away with the message that she needs to be more like Marcus' first wife. This just did not make sense to me, especially after Marcus repeatedly says that he wants Miranda to be herself, honest about what she thinks and feels. If I skip all the parts like this that annoy me, I have no problems enjoying the book.

I definitely enjoyed the ending - how the issue with St. John was resolved, and what Marcus gives Miranda as a Christmas gift.

If you are a fan of the classic Harlequin romance novels, this is the novel for you, and if you prefer something a bit more substantial, you can still enjoy this novel with a little self-editing.
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