First Look: Grace Burrowes’
The Duke’s Disaster (April 7, 2015)
The Duke’s Disaster (True Gentlemen #1)
Sourcebooks Casablanca / April 7, 2015 / $7.99 print, $6.15 digital
Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year’s crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another’s proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead.
Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her?
Pragmatism is not a quality many romance readers would include in a description of the perfect hero, but it is exactly that quality that makes Noah Winters, eighth Duke of Anselm, the perfect hero for Lady Thea Collins in The Duke’s Disaster by Grace Burrowes. Anselm is in need of a wife, and when his first choice prefers another suitor, he does not hesitate in proposing to her companion instead. His reasons are practical, as is his forthright proposal.
“You are in want of a position, I am in want of a duchess, and I am offering you that post.”
No eyebrows, no gasp of shock, no reaction at all, as she regarded him out of puzzled green eyes. “You’re serious.”
To a fault, according to most women who’d ventured an opinion, including Noah’s most recent mistress.
“Your papa was an earl,” he said. “You’re comely, quiet, past the vapid stage, and from good breeding stock. You are every bit as much duchess material as that giggling twit you supervise.”
“Marliss is merely young,” Lady Thea said repressively. “But because you are not nice and I am not a giggling twit, you think we would suit?”
A fair summary. “I do, at least as well as I would have suited Marliss or any of her ilk.”
Lady Thea too has a streak of pragmatism. With her parents dead, she chose a companion’s position rather than allowing her trustees to “sell [her] off to some well-heeled lecher.” She accepts Anselm’s proposal after due consideration of the pros and cons, deciding that Anselm’s offer to provide a home, a debut, and a dowry for her younger sister is worth the risk she must take in revealing a secret she has protected.
The revelation of that secret on their wedding night leaves Anselm angry and Thea guilty and defensive. However, even in the face of disaster, the perfect situation for high drama, cold silence, and self-righteous departure—responses that are all too common in romance fiction—Anselm and Thea make the practical choice. They agree that a successful marriage, their mutual goal, will require effort on both their parts and that rebuilding trust is essential. According to experts, communication is key to surviving disaster, and this duke and his duchess choose to communicate.
“You’re a problem I don’t know how to solve.”
“A problem.” Thea leaned into the hand he’d cupped along her jaw. “And a disaster, but not, thank ye gods, a tragedy.”
“I would not have us be a farce, either,” Anselm said, expression serious.
Another opportunity for a Big Misunderstanding is avoided when Thea discovers the presence in the ducal household of two little girls who bear a marked resemblance to her husband. She is indignant, not that the children, whom she erroneously concludes are Anselm’s illegitimate offspring, live with their father but that she has been kept ignorant of their existence. But neither Thea nor Anselm retreats from the problem. One again they choose to talk to one another, expressing their feelings with few reservations.
“We are both angry, misunderstood, and weary of it.”
“I propose a truce. The children are innocent of any wrongdoing, and we must put their welfare ahead of our squabbles.”
As apologies went, that effort was pathetic. This is not a squabble, Noah.”
“It’s not the siege of Moscow either, Thea. We’re unhappy with each other, but we can either acknowledge what can’t be changed or cling to our miseries. I honestly do not want to make you miserable.”
Which was a relief and a disappointment both. Shouldn’t a marriage have a higher ambition than nonmiserable? Thea began rummaging between the sheets. “What I want is to keep the vows I spoke before the vicar, Noah.”
Love, honor, obey. Interestingly, nothing on the list required absolute honesty—or apologies.
“The vows seem daunting now, don’t they?” Noah mused. “Challenging.”
Thea tossed a white, balled up handkerchief onto the bedside table. “I relish a challenge, usually.”
“As do I.” Something positive passed between them, and the tension Noah sensed in Thea released.
How refreshing to read a story with ample conflict but in which the characters act like adults and create a credible and well-earned HEA for themselves! Anselm declares in the opening sentence of the novel that he is not nice. In fact, he is much better than nice. He is kind and generous and totally sigh-worthy. I’ve added another novel from the prolific Burrowes to my keepers, and I’m considering adding pragmatism to my description of the ideal romance hero.
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