I’m thrilled to be participating in the tour for Megan Frampton’s newest novel, and would like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting me share this post with you today. I’d also like to extend my sincere thanks to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, murr! =^.^=
Publisher: Avon Books
Date Released: February 28, 2017
Series: Dukes Behaving Badly #5
In Megan Frampton’s most recent installment of The Dukes Behaving Badly series, an unexpected duchess proves that behaving badly isn’t exclusive to the Dukedom.
The Unexpected Duchess
Archibald Salisbury, son of a viscount, war hero, and proficient in the proper ways of aristocratic society, has received orders for his most challenging mission: Genevieve, Duchess of Blakesley. How she inherited a duchy isn’t his problem. Turning her into a perfect duchess is. But how can he keep his mind on business when her beauty entices him toward pleasure?
It was impossible, unprecedented…and undeniably true. Genevieve is now a “duke”, or, rather, a duchess. So what is she to do when the ton eyes her every move, hoping she’ll make a mistake? Genevieve knows she has brains and has sometimes been told she has beauty, but, out of her depth, she calls on an expert. And what an expert, with shoulders broad enough to lean on, and a wit that matches her own. Archie is supposed to teach her to be a lady and run her estate, but what she really wants to do is unladylike—run into his arms.
I’ve greatly been enjoying Frampton’s Dukes Behaving Badly series, so I knew when this book was announced that I would like it. As with the previous books in the series, this novel can be read as a stand-alone and contains just the right amount of humor, wonderful characters, slowly burning romance, and engaging plot. Fans of Frampton’s books will not be disappointed in this one, and new comers to the series will find this to be a delightful read.
Genevieve is one of those people who is much stronger than she realizes. While she may feel that she is not cut out and knowledgeable enough to be a Duchess and run a dukedom, I feel she knows quite a bit and simply lacks confidence in herself. Archie was a bit hard for me to get a solid read on personality wise when I first met him, and as I continued reading I still wasn’t entirely sure what my true thoughts were where he was concerned. He has a playful side that is enjoyable, especially when it comes out around Genevieve, but he’s also got a side of him that is guarded and prefers things to be ordered and regimented (unsurprising since he is a retired military captain). Together these two have a fun and slow burning chemistry that fully comes into its own toward the end of the book. I loved that Archie taught Genevieve to have confidence in herself and that she in turn taught him to let go and have fun by setting aside proper behavior from time to time.
This is one of those books that left me smiling periodically while I was reading, and sometimes even chuckling to myself. Genevieve just has this fun quality to her that you can help but love. Her grandmother and her godmother also bring a bit of mischief and humor to the reading; I’m reminded of a scene toward the end of the book that deals with “sparkling” sheep. It’s this quality to Frampton’s writing which I enjoy immensely and always look forward to when reading this series. They’re all just fun books, and I was happy to see this quality carry over into this novel.
There were only two things that kept me from fully falling in love with this title. The first was that there were issues that came up in the story that were never fully resolved. I don’t want to say that the ending felt rushed, but I do feel that one particular issue wasn’t as explored and dealt with as I would have liked. There’s a moment in the final chapter where you think you’re going to see something happen, but it’s left hanging there unresolved. Now this could be because Frampton plans to bring this particular character back in the next book in the series as an obstacle for the main characters in that story, at least that is my hope, but I was a tad disappointed with how easily this issue was handled. And actually, now that I think about it, this issue ties in with my primary problem with the book which was that the conflict was too simple, and we don’t see nearly as much of it as we could have. We have a character, a woman mind you, who has inherited the title of Duchess, something that in this time period was practically unheard of. She also hasn’t been trained to handle the proper running of an estate and all that the title entails. You would think that there would be more focus on the social stigma this would engender and more examples of Genevieve not knowing how to handle things, but we don’t really see that a whole lot in this story. Yes, we get some training, but what we primarily see is lessons in how Genevieve should act toward people, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t all that different from lessons young ladies receive prior to entering the Ton. Now, please bear in mind that I did find the overall plot of the story to be engaging, but I believe that there was more that Frampton could have done to truly let this book shine, and thus standout, especially since she chose to twist societal convention around.
Overall, I honestly feel that this was a wonderful addition to what is an enjoyable series, and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what Frampton has planned next. Would I recommend this book to others? Most assuredly! As I said toward the start of my review, this book works well as a stand-alone, and I feel that anyone who hasn’t read Frampton’s books would enjoy this one. But I also would recommend the series as a whole for readers to enjoy because each installment in the series brings about its own bit of fun and wonderful characters. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Frampton’s books, murr!
1845, Lady Sophia’s Drawing Room
“There’s only one solution,” Lady Sophia said, passing the letter to Archie as he felt his stomach drop. And his carefully ordered life teeter on the verge of change. “You’ll have to go to London to sort my goddaughter out.” She embellished her point by squeezing her tiny dog Truffles, who emitted a squeak and glared at Archie. As if it was his fault.
He resisted the urge to crumple the paper in his hand. “But the festival is in a few weeks,” Archie said, hearing the desperate tone in his voice. He did not want to ever return to London. That was the purpose of taking a position out here in the country after leaving the Queen’s Own Hussars a year prior. His family was there, and his father, at least, had made it clear he never wanted to see him again. What’s more, he did not want to assist a helpless aristocrat in some sort of desperate attempt to bring order to their lives. Even though that was what he was doing in Lady Sophia’s employ. But working for her had come to have its own kind of satisfactory order, one he did not want to disrupt.
“There is work to be done,” Archie continued, hoping to appeal to his employer’s sensible side.
Although in the course of working for her he had come to realize his employer didn’t really have a sensible side, so what was he hoping to accomplish?
“Didn’t you tell me Mr. McCready could do everything you could?” Lady Sophia asked. “You pointed out that if you were to get ill, or busy with other matters, your assistant steward could handle things just as well as you.”
That was when I was trying to get one of my men work, Archie thought in frustration. To help him get back on his feet after the rigors of war. And Bob had proven himself to be a remarkably able assistant, allowing Archie to dive into Lady Sophia’s woefully neglected accounts and see into her investments, neither of which she paid any attention to.
Lady Sophia placed Truffles on the rug before lifting her head to look at Archie. Who knew, in that moment, that he was doomed. Doomed to return to London to help out a likely far-too- indulged female in the very difficult position of being a powerful and wealthy aristocrat.
Perhaps it would have been easier to just get shot on the battlefield. It certainly would have been quicker.
“It’s settled.” She punctuated her words with a nod of her head, sending a few gray curls flying in the air. “You will go see to the new duchess and take care of her as ably as you do me. Mr. Mc-Cready will assist me while you are away.”
Archie looked at the letter again. “This duchess is your relative?” he asked. That would explain the new duchess’s equally silly mode of communication. An “unexpected duchess,” indeed. What kind of idiot wouldn’t have foreseen this circumstance? And done something to prepare for it?
“She calls me aunt, but she is not my actual niece, you understand,” Lady Sophia explained. “She is my goddaughter; her mother married the duke, the duchess’s father. It is quite unusual for a woman to inherit the duchy.”
“Quite,” Archie echoed.
“But it happened, somehow, and since I don’t know anything about being a duchess . . .” Because I do? Archie wondered. But there wasn’t anybody else. She wouldn’t have asked Lady Sophia, of all people, unless there was nobody else.
Or if she was as flighty and confident as her faux-aunt. A scenario that seemed more and more likely.
“The only thing Mr. McCready can’t do is attract as much feminine interest as you do, Mr. Salisbury.” She sat back up and regarded him. “Which might make him more productive,” she added. She leaned over to offer Truffles the end of her biscuit.
Archie opened his mouth to object, but closed it when he realized she was right. He wasn’t vain, but he did recognize that ladies tended to find his appearance attractive. Lady Sophia received many more visitors, she’d told him in an irritated tone, now that he’d been hired.
Bob, damn his eyes, smirked knowingly every time Archie was summoned to Lady Sophia’s drawing room to answer yet another question about estate management posed by a lady who’d likely never had such a question in her life.
Archie responded by making Bob personally in charge of the fertilizer. It didn’t stop Bob’s smirking, but it did make Archie feel better.
“And you will return in a month’s time so you can be here for the festival.”
“Sooner if I can, my lady.” If this duchess needed more time than a month, there would be no hope for her anyway. Country life suited him; he liked its quiet and regularity. It was a vast change from life in battle, or even being just on duty, but it was far more interesting than being the third son from a viscount’s family. A viscount who disowned his third boy when said boy was determined to join the army.
Meanwhile, however, he had to pack to head off to a new kind of battle—that of preparing a completely unprepared woman, likely a woman as flighty and often confused as Lady Sophia, to hold a position that she was entirely unsuited for.
Very much like working with raw recruits, in fact.
About the Author:
Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. You can visit her on her website, @meganf, and at Facebook.
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If you would like to enter for your chance to win 1 of 3 print copies of Megan’s Why Do Dukes Fall in Love, book #4 in the Dukes Behaving Badly series, please use the Rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open to US residents only.