Formats available: ebook
Genres: historical fiction, historical romance, regency romance
Series: Townsbridges #4
Published by Sophie Barnes on October 20, 2020
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
She threatens to conquer his heart…
When Matthew Donovan, Duke of Brunswick, proposes to Sarah Townsbridge, she’s shocked. After all, she’s never met him before. One thing is clear though – he obviously needs help. So after turning him down, she decides to get to know him better, and finds out she’s right. But fixing a broken man is not the same as adopting a puppy. Least of all when the man in question has no desire to be saved.
Matthew has his mind set on Sarah. Kind and energetic, she’ll make an excellent mother. Best of all, her reclusiveness is sure to make her accept the sort of marriage he has in mind – one where they live apart. The only problem is, to convince her, they must spend time together. And the more they do, the more he risks falling prey to the one emotion he knows he must avoid at all cost: love.
Life may or may not be like a box of chocolates, but A Duke for Miss Townsbridge is a deliciously light confection of froth and fluff with a tasty but chewy center to give it just the right amount of bite.
I’ve just realized that this analogy makes Sophie Barnes’ work the equivalent of that box of chocolates, and that definitely works. They are always delicious!
Initially, the duke in question is not for Miss Townsbridge. At all. Oh, he thinks he is, but she’s having none of him after he invades an afternoon party being held in her honor, gets down on one knee and doesn’t so much propose marriage as command it.
The Duke of Brunswick’s literal first words to his intended bride are “Marry me,” as though he has the right to order it and she has no choice but to go along.
In spite of being near the end of her sixth season, 22 years old and in danger of being considered permanently on the shelf, Sarah Townsbridge does have a choice in the matter, and her choice is to decline the honor.
But that “no” is only the beginning of a romance that Brunwsick had intended to forgo altogether. He needed a wife and a mother for his eventual heir. He wanted someone capable of presenting herself as his duchess while maintaining her own household and keeping herself occupied for the rest of their lives.
He had no intention of loving, or frankly even liking his would-be Duchess. His entire family had been killed in a carriage accident when he was a child. An experience that he has NEVER gotten over. Or past. Or even let the tiniest bit go of.
That’s what makes Sarah decide to give him another chance. She’s made a hobby of taking in wounded animals and “fixing” them. And Matthew Donovan, the high-in-the-instep Duke of Brunswick, is definitely a wounded animal that needs just Sarah’s kind of care. He needs to heal, and she wants to “fix” him.
It should be an even worse beginning for a relationship than his initial commanding proposal. And it very nearly is. Until it finally isn’t.
Escape Rating B+: All of the stories in the Townsbridges series of historical romantic novellas have been utterly delicious, and A Duke for Miss Townsbridge is certainly no exception.
They have also all been romances with just a little bit of bite. Romances where there’s something unconventional in the way that the hero and heroine begin their romantic adventure. Even better, it’s never the same something.
It’s also generally something that shouldn’t work, from When Love Leads to Scandal, where the heroine begins the story engaged to the hero’s best friend, to Lady Abigail’s Perfect Match, where the hero initially makes the heroine literally sick to her stomach, to the previous story, Falling for Mr. Townsbridge, when a son of the household falls for his mother’s new cook – and chooses to ignore convention and marry her.
It’s not necessary to have read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one, but they are all lovely, short, eventually sweet and utterly delicious.
In this outing, Sarah falls for the Duke because she wants to fix him. In real life, this is downright dangerous, and relationships like this one nearly always end in disaster AND heartbreak. Plenty of people have issues that need fixing, but no one can BE fixed. They have to want to fix themselves and then carry through – something that doesn’t happen nearly enough except in Romancelandia.
And it nearly doesn’t happen here, either. It’s not that Matthew is a terrible person, it’s that he’s lived his entire life up to this point clinging to his pain – and he doesn’t know how to stop. Sarah, at least doesn’t think it will be easy, but she does see that it’s necessary. Her mistake is thinking that Matthew is all in on doing the work, when he really isn’t.
So there’s a romance here, where these people fall in love but only one of them is willing to admit it. And they marry anyway. It’s only after Matthew breaks Sarah’s heart that the healing can begin.
That the author didn’t gloss over just how much hard work is going to be involved made this unworkable premise work. In the end, their happy ending was definitely earned!
But speaking of earning a happy ending, the jilted fiance from the very first book in this series, will finally have the chance to earn his in the next book, An Unexpected Temptation, when he gets stranded in a winter storm with his nemesis, just in time for the holidays.