Feminist Fairy Tale Reviews is currently on hiatus. I hope to return to blogging sooner rather than later.
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Thank you and happy reading1
Sunday, July 24, 2011
REVIEW: "How to Marry a Duke" by Vicky Dreiling
Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne is a man with a mission: find a wife he can tolerate as long as they both shall live. Love is not necessary--nor desired. But how to choose among a dizzying array of wealthy-yet-witless candidates? Hire London's infamously prim and proper matchmaker. Then pretend she's not the most captivating woman he's ever met...
Helping a devilish Duke create a contest to pick his perfect mate is the kind of challenge Tessa Mansfield relishes. Her methods may be scandalous, but she's determined to find the notorious bachelor more than a wife--she'll bring him true love. Yet when Tessa watches the women vie for the Duke's affections, she longs to win his heart herself. And after a stolen kiss confirms Tristan's desire, Tessa knows she has broken a matchmaker's number one rule: never fall in love with the groom.
Overall Ranking: 4 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Setting: Regency England
Hero: Tristan Gatewick, Duke of Shelbourne
Heroine: Tessa Mansfield
Sensuality Rating: Warm
"How to Marry a Duke" is Vicky Dreiling's debut historical romance and, in my opinion, she does an amazing job right out of the gate. As mentioned in the summary above, this is the story of Tristan, Duke of Shelbourne, who is in desperate need of a wife. He has exacting qualifications for his wife-to-be and (Surprise!) is having a difficult time finding someone to meet them. Specifically, he wants "an angel in the ballroom and a temptress . . . in private." (pg. 29) After his mother refused to assist him in finding a wife to fit his desires, Tristan meets Tessa Mansfield at a ball. There he discovers that she is an accomplished matchmaker who specializes in finding husbands for wallflowers and plain-janes. Because he is so desperate, Tristan decides to hire Tessa to help him find the wife he believes he needs.
Tristan, at first glance, is a fairly common romance novel hero. He inherited his title at a young age and also inherited large amounts of debt that his father rang up. Tristan decided against marrying a rich young lady to save his family's estate and set about correcting everything himself. Due to this, he is obsessed with his ducal duty. Also, Tristan's father caused scandal because of his blatant infidelities and gambling habits. In addition to being obsessed with duty, he is also hyper aware of not causing a scandal like his father. That is why his 'qualifications' for a wife are so cold-hearted though he is open about his desire for passion in his marriage.
Tessa Mansfield is a twenty-six year old spinster whose beauty is not conventional for the time period being small yet curvy. Tessa's uncle left her a great inheritance upon his death and she has been able to live independently. This lifestyle helps her hide from a painful past which the reader gets hints about throughout the book until the Great Secret Reveal! She takes great pleasure in creating matches for girls/women she feels are outsiders or wallflowers. This showcases her thoughtful yet determined nature. She has a great understanding of the ton and how to make a courtship successful.
It becomes obvious from their first meeting that Tristan and Tessa are meant for each other. They catch each other's eye rather quickly and a sense of easy friendship from the beginning. When Tessa decides to help Tristan find a wife, they work together to figure out the best way to 'weed' out the girls that don't fit the duke's requirements. Through all the preparations, the sexual tension continues to grow as these two fall harder and harder for each other. The biggest obstacle for this couple is trust. Tristan must learn to trust Tessa to always have his best interests at heart even when he may disagree with her actions. Tessa, on the other hand, must trust Tristan with the truth about her past.
There are a great many secondary characters in this book. Some of my personal favorites are Tristan's opinionated yet romantic mother, his best friend Hawk who steals every scene he is in, and a couple of the girls that Tristan is courting throughout the book. I cannot wait to read more about Hawk and Tristan's sister, Julianne, in the next book of this series.
What I liked about this book: I really enjoyed the realistic growth of the relationship between Tristan and Tessa and the friendship between Tristan and Hawk. There was also a sense of humor throughout the story. There are a great many funny lines and situations and this really gives the book a sense of relaxation and fun.
What I did not like about this book: The courtship plot started to wear a little thin by the end. I liked how it got Tristan and Tessa to work together, but some of the subplots were a little tedious. I also felt like the ending was anti-climatic. The villain was not fully developed, in my opinion, and he was thwarted rather quickly.
Wishlist for this book: I wish there had been a more detailed love scene. I liked the carriage scene, but the actual consummation was a disappointment especially after the great sexual tension from earlier.
All in all, I thought Ms. Dreiling did an admirable job on her first book. Her writing style is easy to read yet poignant. Her sense of humor definitely carried alot of weight as well. I can't wait to read more from her!
Favorite Quote: "You are my one and only, for all eternity."--Tristan