Desert Isle Keeper
The Heiress Gets a Duke
The Heiress Gets a Duke is a wonderful, character-driven novel about the gray area between family responsibility and duty to self. It’s the first book I’ve read by Harper St. George (more known for Viking and Western romance) but it certainly will not be the last.
New Yorkers August Crenshaw and her sister Violet are attending the London season with their parents and also visiting their friend Camille, lately married to the older, unkind Duke of Hereford. New Yorker Camille was sacrificed at the altar of family ambition and is miserable in London. Hoping to cheer her, August agrees to accompany her on a late night outing – a boxing match. August is at first appalled but quickly finds herself mesmerized by one of the fighters – known only as the Hellion. When the crowd surges near the end of the fight, she is knocked off the platform only to be caught by the Hellion. He asks for a good luck kiss in return for the rescue and she, quite uncharacteristically, gives him one.
August and Violet assumed they were coming to London to see the sights and visit Camille, never imagining their parents (owners of the lucrative Crenshaw Iron Works) would consider sacrificing one of their daughters in the same way as happened to their friend. So when they are informed the following evening that the Duke of Rothschild is interested in marriage with a Crenshaw daughter, the girls are shocked. It turns out that their father wishes to expand his business in England and having a duke in the family is the perfect way to do this. Mr. and Mrs. Crenshaw decide that Violet will be the perfect wife for the Duke; with August’s mind for numbers and keen ability to analyze deals, she’s too crucial in running the family business (besides being considered “mannish” by the ton for her interest in business).
Evan Sterling, the Duke of Rothschild, never expected to inherit the dukedom – especially without any funds. He is trying his hardest to earn more and spend less but the creditors are at the door and he still has a mother to support and two sisters to launch next year. As distasteful as he finds it, Evan realizes he’s going to have to marry an heiress and soon. His mother thinks Violet is the best choice and they all meet for dinner. Violet and August are not interested – Violet has a beau in New York and August has ambitions within Crenshaw Iron Works. August pledges to Violet that she will stop the engagement. She confronts Evan (who looks suspiciously like the Hellion) at the party. He agrees to stop pursuing Violet – he is far more interested in August anyway!
“The debts are my father’s. The family honor rightfully belonged to my dutiful brother. My mother is the one who chose Violet.” He took the final step to reach her, closing the distance between them. The heat of her body warmed him as the fire could not. “I would have one things that is mine. I would choose my own wife. I choose you.”
Evan is a top-notch hero! He just wants to do the best by his family but can’t he have the wife of his choice? Is that too much to ask? St. George does a lovely job of making this duke/boxer achingly vulnerable and so honest with August. August is the perfect balance of smart, witty, and tender. She is beyond disappointed that her father thinks so little of her or Violet that he is willing to ‘sell’ one of them in exchange for a title. Her contributions to Crenshaw Iron Works are enormous and yet he brushes them off like a little hobby of hers. It’s heart-breaking to see how devastated August is by her discovery of her father’s true nature.
The attraction between August and Evan starts at the boxing match and just about sizzles on all of the pages after that; the author certainly knows how to write a love scene and create and build sexual tension. And romance! I loved that there were many scenes with August and Evan just sharing parts of their lives with each other. This romance was physical and intellectual. I was pulling for Evan to convince August that they could make it.
I have three minor quibbles. The first is that Camille seems to just disappear from the story. It’s clear that there is more going on there and I was disappointed to have her story left up in the air. My second is with August’s prolonged wish to stay single and work for Crenshaw Iron Works in spite of what her father did. This angle of the story goes on a tad too long. My third issue is the Rothschild name. The Rothschilds were one of the wealthiest families of that era (and remain so today) so it was probably not the best name choice for a pauper duke.
This is the first book in The Gilded Age Heiresses series and St. George does a lovely job setting up the next story for Violet and one of Evan’s business partners. I can already tell book two is going to be packed with tension and romance as well! The Heiress Gets a Duke is a terrific book and gets a solid recommendation.
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer
Visit our Amazon Storefront
|Review Date:||January 27, 2021|
|Book Type:||Historical Romance|
|Review Tags:||arranged marriage | businesswoman | Gilded Age | The Gilded Age Heiresses series|
I loved the first half of this book. But then I began to be irritated at August’s insistence that she wouldn’t marry Evan. It just seemed forced. And the extra big kiss Mis at the end was unnecessary.
I’d give it a B. And I am very interested in the next book!
I agree with both of these comments but I’m still in B+/A- territory. The setting was terrific, and the chemistry between the hero and heroine is fantastic and well-written.
Hmm, this didn’t work for me as well as it did for the reviewer. I found The Heiress Gets a Duke formulaic and that conventionality flattened the romantic leads into cliché. The couple weren’t really on page together enough to do the heavy relationship building that this type of set up needs and I was eventually irritated by how similar this seemed to Evie Dunmore’s style. Imitations rarely work as well as the original, in my experience.
But, to each their own! I’m completely in the minority on this one, it has tons of positive reviews on Goodreads so far.
This sounds wonderful! I’m so happy to have a good historical romance to look forward to, and I’m particularly pleased that it’s set in the Gilded Age. It was such an interesting time period. Plus I think it’s always a welcome thing when an author tackles a time period that’s been featured less often in romance novels.
The cover really stands out in a good way, I totally agree with that. I’m tempted to buy the paperback version because my Kindle Paperwhite is not going to do the cover justice, and I feel like the book would simply be a beautiful object. Not that I need any more physical books to drown in, and I’m not overly excited about waiting about a month for the book to make its way to this side of the Globe, but the price is the same and it’s so pretty. Decisions, decisions.
Anyone interested in The Gilded Age should read Edith Wharton’s The Custom Of The Country. It is free on Kindle Unlimited. The New York Times digital has two wonderful discussions/phots of costumes, accessories etc. and it is lovely. I am now reading The Heiress Gets a Duke and enjoying it.
I love that book – I much prefer it to The Age of Innocence!
Am I the only one who has a problem with “August” as a woman’s name? Every time I read it, I had to remember, “August is a she.” It’s like naming your hero Evelyn.
Well interestingly Evelyn was a man’s name originally! I was thrown off by the name as well but it is explained – she was named after her grandfather Augustus. Still doesn’t stop you from having to remind yourself August is a woman early on in the book!
It’s a very upper crust thing to do–give family names independent of how sex linked they sound.
I find the name August jarring, too, but every age has their outliers. Circumstances can make a difference in whether I can let go and just roll with whatever explanation is provided. However, I still think Augusta would have been more realistic and likely for that time and place.
So was Carol, and Leslie, Vivian, Beverly, Dana, Lindsay, Stacey, even Whitney and Hilary (one l). All these names were still popular for boys into the 1900’s. Quite a few women’s names we originally male.
Don’t forget Tracy – which is the given name of the omniscient Duke of Rockliffe in Stella Riley’s Rockliffe series!
Jocelyn, Marian/Marion, Frances/Francis.
I too was distracted by the name. August in Germany is a very old fashioned name for a man. Can’t think of a man younger than 80 with this name. I’m finally accustomed to names like April and June but August…no. But I think I will read the book pronouncing the name in the english way to be bearable for me.
I have only read one Harper St. George novel so far, the Harlequin Historical A Marriage Deal with the Outlaw, and was impressed with her writing style. It’s difficult to tell on the basis of one book, but I think the Harlequin formula was a little restrictive for her. Namely, I thought the last 10% of the book had a forced high-stakes climax that hit the reader out of nowhere, which is a problem I have noted in a number of Harlequin titles. Even so, I highly recommend A Marriage Deal with the Outlaw for fans of Western romance on the high end of the “warm” heat level. And I am glad to see St. George is branching out, trying new subgenres. That’s often a risk for writers, but it sounds like it paid off with The Heiress Gets a Duke.
P.S. I agree with everyone who has said this cover is gorgeous.
The cover alone should win this one prizes, so beautiful (hint: look at it on a screen with high resolution so you can see the embossed detail on the dress).
But the story is great too. I read this a bit ago, but loved it as well. I look forward to the rest of the series. Of course Violet will get a book, but I’m also sure that Camille will too, so I didn’t mind that she fell away. Figured the author has plans for her to have a story her own.
Oooohhh – I hadn’t thought about Camille getting a story. That would be awesome.
If I remember correctly I think her husband’s advanced age was mentioned a couple of times (that and that he’s perhaps abusive?), so perhaps he is not long for this world.
My prediction is Camille ends up with the other of Evan’s business partners.
This is getting raves up and down the line – tucking it on the TBR.
The Rothschilds are Jewish which makes this even more an odd name to choose.
Someone else brought this up in another review I read and I looked it up. The name is of German origin, and not tied to any religion. Earliest recordings of births with this name were in the 1700 and 1800’s were found in registries of Christian churches.
I think the point in this case, is that anyone who reads a lot of HR or knows about about England in the 19th C (and a quick poll of the people sitting in my front room – a grand total of two, neither of whom reads HR – said “rich” and “Jewish” when I asked them what they associated the name with!) is likely to associate the name with that particular family.. It’s not that it’s an exclusively Jewish name, it’s the association – as I’ve just posted elsewhere on this thread, the late, great Jo Beverly made a very good point about the need to select names carefully so as not to destroy the very illusion you’re trying to create.
I miss Jo Beverly’s stellar contributions to romance. She was a favourite. Im off now to re-read lady beware for the one millionth time
Thanks for the wonderful review, Evelyn. But, as you pointed out, that’s pretty odd that she chose such a famous name. When I first saw it I went Whoa. Don’t most authors go out of their way to avoid actual current and historical titles/names of peers as MC’s?
It is odd! But don’t let it keep you from reading it!
On the late great Jo Beverly’s website, there’s a lot of really useful information about England – currency, travel, history and names and titles that I think should be required reading for a lot of the newer generation of HR authors! Needless to say, there is not a Jayden in sight! And she had good advice for pepole about surnames and titles. This particular section is specifically about titles, but some of it still applies, especially in this particular case, as it’s very likely that anyone who reads HR extensively, or knows anything about 19th century England will recognise the name.
The question was asked: When writing historical fiction, does one create a title for a character, or do you have to research a title and just use a disclaimer?
Answer: always make it up. When you’ve come up with a title you like, do an internet search to see if it exists. Also check The Peerage and do a search in Googlebooks advanced search. You can choose date of publication, so you could do a broad search there for the Earl of Glaringdangerously published between 1800 and 1830 and see if any reference turns up.
You don’t want to give your fictional character a title that was in use at the time. The main reason is that it’s uncouth to appropriate someone’s identity. In addition, some, perhaps many, readers will be aware of the real peer which will destroy the fictional reality you’re trying to create.
Did the author give an explanation of why she chose the Rothschild name — and I don’t mean just a brief footnote that it was possible for a poor, non-Jewish duke to be a Rothschild but a reason why she would choose something so likely to pull people out of the story? I will read this nonetheless because it’s received such great reviews, but I’d have been happier if I didn’t have to expend energy to ignore the name.
P.S. Also, wouldn’t it be more likely the heroine would be Augusta, not August?
I agree about August/Augusta. Even for an American young lady at the time, it’s quite odd. Also on Jo Bev’s site – a list of period appropriate names for 19th C folks :) (And there are some pretty weird ones on there!)
Also weird is, perhaps, two young ladies going ALONE to a boxing match! This really got me in Bridgerton when ladies in 1813 (date mentioned in the series) were attending boxing matches. Most were, in the main, illegal to start with but aristocratic or, in the case of Americans, very wealthy, young women attending most sporting events was heavily frowned upon. So, with this, the name of the two MCs in this book, I would be really taken out of the story so I am debating whether to read it or not. I am glad, though, that this is a story set in the “Gilded Age” as there aren’t enough of them.
I don’t think it was that uncommon to give upper class women family names that were decidedly masculine around that time. Wallis Simpson went by her middle name, which was a family name. Naming girls family names was (and still is ) a very popular American past time, especially in the uppercrust and especially in the South. I’m not that old, but I knew several female Sinclairs and a Durbin, a Douglass, and an Ellis.
I realize we’re trying not to take people out of the story. I get it. But sticking to the “rules” can get very boring. August (meaning impressive) is so much more interesting a name than Augusta, which has different connotations for me (stuffy,old).
LOL on Earl of Glaringdangerously. To be fair, I’ve read plenty of romances with the opposite problem of silly made up titles that strike me as quite satirical or too obviously telegraphing a character trait. Associations are tricky. I do agree it is best to avoid the obvious associations.
Side note: I just read a nonfiction book about murder during the 100 years war (14th century) and among the Mauds, Agathas and the Katherines was a woman named Tiffanie. Can’t remember where she fit in; this is a history about one particular murder but also about how crime and murder were handled at the time (sure interesting). But there was a Tiffanie.
Made me chuckle.
What do you think of the cover? I love it!
Me too. So glamorous!
This looks great! “adds it to towering TBR list”