I love Harper St. George’s romances, and The Duchess Takes a Husband is no exception to that rule, even if it’s just a hair less compelling than her last book. And yet this one brims with heated romantic tension and a hero and heroine worth rooting for, resulting in a wonderful romance. It’s the conclusion to the Gilded Age Heiresses series and will be a must-read for anyone enchanted by the stories within it thus far.
Camille, Dowager Duchess of Hereford, is a widow at twenty-three. An American by birth, she was basically sold into marriage in exchange for a title, and has lived as something of a cautionary tale to the previous heroines of the series, who managed to enter into marriages that avoided society’s usual pitfalls and money traps. But now Camille’s abusive husband is dead and she uses her status as a duchess to support the suffragette cause, her own experience meaning she understands only too well why a woman would want to be free. But that’s not why she enters the infamous Montague Club, a small private club for the aristocracy with few female members – she’s looking for a way to get over her fear of intimacy and discover if it’s possible for her to enjoy sexual congress with a man.
Jacob Throne has been powerfully attracted to Camille since he first saw her, but he’s her best friend’s brother-in-law. What has he to offer her? He’s a bastard son of the Earl of Leigh (half-brother to Christian, hero of book two, The Devil and the Heiress) and although he runs a private gaming hell, he has never even owned one. And he’s just made his life difficult by telling some potential investors that he has a fiancée! That’s when Camille’s shocking proposal comes into play. She offers him a pretend engagement that will fulfill his claim, improve his social standing and impress backers who will finance his plans to buy the club, and he will teach her the Arts of Sensual Pleasure. Love follows, but will misunderstandings – and danger – arise?
You know your tropes – the widow who has never had an orgasm, the rogue who has never known true love… But St. George makes her story so compelling and an entertaining read though, so I can’t ding The Duchess Takes a Husband too severely.
If you’ve read even one book in this series then you know how badly Camille deserves a happy ending, and the author happily offers it up without ignoring the impact her traumatic marriage has had on Camille sexually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was stunned when St. George admits to the fact that she hadn’t planned on telling Camille’s story in her auhor’s note! But I’m so glad she did.
Jacob is wonderful; gentle and patient, in spite of his insistence that nooo he will never fall in love, just never! The romance between him and Camille burns slowly and carefully. He realizes that sex won’t fix Camille’s anxiety and her fear of men, and is patient with his support and affection.
Not that the sex in the story is weak; nah, it’s as bold and lovely as the rest of the novel. This is a beautiful romance and a story about two people discovering themselves and learning how to appreciate true love. The Duchess Takes a Husband is gorgeous and just the right kind of early summer pick-me-up.
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