Even in London society—where everyone knows what you did last season—you never know who's next in line to walk down the aisle, in Why Dukes Say I Do…
TRUE LOVE IS OFTEN FOUND
With her whirlwind social life in London, Lady Isabella Wharton has little interest in the customs of the country. But when her godmother asks her to pay a visit to her bachelor grandson in Yorkshire, Isabella can't refuse. It behooves her to please the old dowager, since she harbors one of Isabella's most scandalous secrets. So off she goes to see the newly-titled—and notoriously rustic—Duke of Ormond…
WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT
Trevor Carey doesn't care about what goes on behind ballroom doors. He is content with the simple life—and isn't ashamed to admit it to a society flirt like Lady Isabella. But the country air brings out a different side of Isabella—one full of longing and passion. Can her sophistication be hiding a desire for love? When a blackmailer from the city arrives to threaten Isabella, Trevor will shield her from harm—even travel to London. Can the duke tackle the ton on Isabella's behalf …and manage to keep her all to himself?
"Absolutely delightful…an emotion-packed, passionate historical romance"—Romance Junkies, five stars (on How to Romance a Rake)
About the Author
Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she'd been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she's not writing, she's helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.
Manda Collins grew up on a combination of Nancy Drew books and Jane Austen novels, and her own brand of Regency romantic suspense is the result. An academic librarian by day, she investigates the mysteries of undergraduate research at her alma mater, and holds advanced degrees in English Lit and Librarianship. Her debut novel, How to Dance with a Duke spent five weeks on the Nielsen Bookscan Romance Top 100 list, was nominated for an RT Reviewer's Choice Award for best debut historical romance, and finaled in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contest. Both How to Entice an Earl and Why Dukes Say I Do were selected for inclusion in Eloisa James's Reading Romance column. Her latest book, Why Earls Fall in Love, a February 2014 release, was called "sparkling romance" by Publishers Weekly and is set in Bath, England, one of her favorite cities in the world.
Read an Excerpt
One year later
“You cannot simply insist I travel to the wilds of Yorkshire to fetch your errant grandson, Godmama,” Lady Isabella Wharton said with a nervous laugh. “It is the height of the season. I have social obligations.”
“Yes,” the Dowager Duchess of Ormonde said acerbically, “you are no doubt expected at one of Lucifer Dinsmore’s gatherings where the ladies dampen their petticoats and the gentlemen wear Roman togas.”
“That was one party, Godmama,” Isabella protested. “And the gentlemen wore robes like the Hellfire Club. Not togas.”
With her dark auburn hair, her voluptuous figure, and an exquisite sense of style, Isabella was in demand among the more liberal-minded hostesses of the ton. She was always to be counted upon to add intrigue to an evening’s entertainment. The fact that she was a widow whose husband had died famously in a duel only added to her mystique.
“That is beside the point, Bella,” the dowager huffed, “and you well know it. Your social schedule is filled with frivolity and scandal and little else. It will do you good to get away from the scoundrels and rakes who buzz around you like so many bees. Yorkshire is lovely this time of year.”
If the old woman had been there at all, Isabella would eat her hat.
“Then why do you not go there to persuade the new duke yourself?” Isabella asked peevishly. It was just like her godmother to pawn off such an unpleasant task on her. She’d always disapproved of Isabella and her popularity.
“Because the boy will refuse to see me!” the duchess said, thumping her ebony walking stick on the floor for emphasis. “He must be made to see his duty to the family. And as he will not see me, then he will need to be persuaded by someone else. Someone with the ability to wrap young men about her little finger.”
Isabella choked on her tea. “You mean me to seduce him into coming to London?” It was true that she had a way with gentlemen, but as her marriage proved, she was not a miracle worker. If the duke wished to remain in Yorkshire rather than come to London and take up his role as head of the family, then she had no great faith in her power to persuade him otherwise. Besides, as her sister and Georgina Mowbray could attest, Isabella had a poor record when it came to persuading Dukes of Ormonde to do what she wished.
“Don’t be absurd,” the old woman said, waving a beringed hand in dismissal. “I mean for you to cast a few lures. That hardly constitutes seduction. He must be bored silly with the provincial women of York.”
Isabella bit back a sigh. Since receiving the heavily embossed notecard earlier in the week she’d been dreading this encounter with her godmother. It wasn’t that Isabella was not fond of the old girl. The duchess had served as a surrogate parent to Isabella and her sister, Perdita, since their mother’s death when they were children. Their father, being a typical gentleman of his class, was not up to the task.
And when the dowager’s other grandson, Gervase, also a duke, had fallen in love with Perdita on sight, and their subsequent marriage made both sisters true members of the Ormonde family, they’d all been pleased as punch. The duke’s bad treatment of Perdita, which the dowager still denied even after his death during an attack on his wife, had soured Isabella’s relationship with the matriarch. And she was hardly in a position to take orders from her anymore. She was a grown woman and had endured her own abusive marriage for long enough to appreciate her freedom to such a degree that she resented anyone—especially someone who called her sister a liar—who tried to curb it.
“Perhaps the new duke has his reasons for refusing to come to London,” Isabella said mildly. She had said her peace about the late duke to the dowager. She knew there was nothing she could say to sway the old woman’s opinion and she’d decided to stop trying. She had come here today as a courtesy, but the dowager’s attempt to manipulate her was tiresome. “You did, after all, cut off his father without a cent. That has a way of dampening one’s familial feelings.”
As did accusations of murder, she thought to herself. The dowager had kept the circumstances of Gervase’s death secret solely because she did not wish the family to be wreathed in scandal along with the funeral crepe. That did not stop her from haranguing Perdita in private. Which was ironic considering that Isabella and Georgina, if one was technical about the matter, were the ones responsible for the duke’s death.
“My late husband cut Phillip off,” the duchess said crossly, referring to the present, reluctant duke’s father. “And I spent a great deal of time attempting to dissuade him from doing so. For the little good it did me.”
Isabella looked up from picking at a thread on her primrose morning gown. “You did?” she asked, surprised despite herself. “I never knew that.”
The dowager’s cheeks turned pink beneath the old-fashioned powder she insisted on wearing. “He was my son, Isabella. I hardly wished for him to be thrust out into the world without two pennies to rub together. Much less to never see my first grandchild. Ormonde was as stubborn as they come, however. And when he made his decision, I could do little more than go along with it.”
Which perhaps explained why the dowager had clung so tightly to the notion that Gervase could do no wrong. Deprived of her first grandson, the dowager had taken the one she had access to and tried to mold him into the sort of man her husband would not dare cast off. Unfortunately, she’d also molded him into a selfish, haughty brute of a man who had beaten his young wife black-and-blue on more than one occasion. And because he’d been told by the grandmother who all but raised him that he was always right, he’d been unable to see what he did as wrong.
“I didn’t know,” Isabella said, feeling a bit sorry for the old woman despite herself. “It must have been dreadful for you.”
“It was,” the dowager said. “But I endured it. And I refuse to endure another separation in the family. Trevor needs to come to London to take up the business of the dukedom. He cannot simply ignore his family obligations by remaining in some provincial Yorkshire hamlet to play at being a gentleman farmer. He is the Duke of Ormonde and must be made to behave as such.”
The old woman pounded her walking stick on the floor for emphasis.
“I am hardly the best person to preach proper behavior, Godmama,” Isabella said, still not ready to accept the dowager’s orders. She was in no mood for travel. Besides, there was the matter of her reputation. “Indeed, I am perhaps the worst person to fetch him if you wish your grandson to arrive in London scandal-free.”
“I care not what his reputation will be,” the duchess said firmly. “I simply want him to be here.”
She glanced up at the portrait of her husband and sons that hung above the fireplace in her sitting room. “I am getting no younger, Isabella,” she said, her sharp eyes softening as she turned them back toward her goddaughter. “But I hope that before I go to join my dear boys I am able to meet the grandson who was kept from me. Please, Isabella. Say that you will go get him for me.”
Isabella was moved in spite of herself. The dowager was a difficult woman. But she’d truly loved the despicable Gervase. And despite that love she’d done what she could to ensure that the true story of how he’d died never got out. She might have seen to it that all three women present that day were prosecuted for his death. Instead she’d hidden the truth. That in and of itself was enough to make Isabella grateful to her.
But the dowager’s next words destroyed any goodwill Isabella had harbored for her.
“If you do not go,” she said, her eyes narrowed, “I will see to it that your sister’s match with Coniston comes to nothing.”
Isabella might have known that the old woman would find it impossible to simply let Isabella make the decision herself. Unable to wait, she’d decided to use the one bit of good to come out of Gervase’s death—Perdita’s proposed match with the Earl of Coniston—as leverage against her sister.
“You almost had me,” she said, shaking her head. “Really, Duchess, it was quite splendidly done. If only you’d waited.”
The dowager did Isabella the courtesy of not misunderstanding her. “I had to make sure you would do as I asked.”
“I was almost ready to capitulate,” Isabella said coldly. “But you couldn’t resist threatening Perdita. Could you?”
“It was not a matter of threatening your sister,” the dowager said. “It was a matter of using the right tool to make you do what I wished. And you have always been ready to do whatever it takes to protect your sister, have you not?”
Indeed, Isabella had always been protective of her sister. Not only because they’d lost their parents at an early age but also because Perdita’s sweet nature made her more vulnerable than most to the darker elements of the world. Like Gervase. And his grandmother.
“I suppose this means you still refuse to go to Yorkshire on my behalf?”
“On the contrary,” Isabella said. “Now I have no choice. Just as you wished.”
The Earl of Coniston was not, perhaps, as handsome or as polished as the Duke of Ormonde had been, but he’d managed to woo Perdita with his affable good nature and even temper. And Isabella would do nothing that would endanger her sister’s engagement. Even if it meant leaving London in the middle of the season and persuading a man with no intention of taking up his position as duke to return to town with her. And the dowager knew it.
“Sadly, it is blackmail,” the duchess said without a trace of remorse, “but needs must when the devil drives. Besides, as I told you before, it will do you good to get up to Yorkshire this time of year.”
“I’ll be taking one of the Ormonde traveling carriages,” Isabella said curtly. If the duchess was going to force her upon this fool’s errand, then she may as well be comfortable on the journey. “And I wish you to set up an account for me at Madame Celeste’s for when I return.”
The duchess, knowing she’d won, inclined her head to indicate her assent. “I do apologize for having gone about the business in such a havey-cavey manner, Isabella,” she said. “But you know how important family is to me. Especially now that Gervase is gone.”
Still cursing her own naïveté, Isabella rose. “If I’m to make an early start, I suppose I’d better be off.”
Not bothering to say her good-byes, she stormed out of the dowager’s sitting room and hurried downstairs to retrieve her hat and pelisse.
* * *
Trevor Carey, Duke of Ormonde, pulled his hat down lower over his face to keep out the rain as he guided his horse toward home. His shoulders were already beginning to ache from the effort of helping haul William Easter’s cart back up the banks of the swollen Nettledale River. Yorkshire in spring was given to rain, but this year had been a particularly wet one, which had proved to be more than the normally serene Nettledale—and the ancient bridge over it—could handle. Will had decided to risk the bridge, and as a result the cart had slipped over the edge and into the drink.
It had taken six men and nearly four hours to retrieve the cart, which had been loaded down with goods from York for Easter’s village shop. Thankfully, the bed of the cart hadn’t been submerged, so most of the stock was salvageable. But Easter had broken an arm and had been banged up quite a bit. A small price to pay, Trevor thought, considering a cracked skull might have ended with Easter drowning in the river. Now he was exhausted and wet and starving and wanted nothing more than a hot bath and a bowl of Mrs. Tillotson’s stew.
Peering up ahead through the twilight rain, he cursed at the realization that the dark shadow he’d been watching was not a stand of trees but a carriage tilted at an awkward angle.
Did no one have the good sense to stay in on a day like this?
As he approached the large carriage, which had been built for comfort rather than agility, Trevor heard a woman’s voice coming from the interior of the vehicle.
“Liston, stop fidgeting. You will do yourself some further injury.” The voice was a refined one—doubtless of some lady who was passing through town on her way to one of the neighboring estates. She had the sound of one who was accustomed to giving orders and having them followed. But it was clear from her aggrieved tone that the fidgety Liston was not an obedient servant.
“But Lady Wharton,” he heard a man’s voice say, “I shouldn’t be in here with you. ’Tain’t right for me to share the interior of the carriage with ye like I was puttin’ on airs.”
“Don’t be absurd,” came the abrupt reply. “You were injured when the carriage crashed. It’s not as if you are in any fit state to…” Trevor bit back a smile at her abbreviated words. “That is to say, you are injured and it would be foolish for you to catch your death out in the rain all for the sake of my reputation. Which, as you well know, is not what it might have been in any event.”
Reaching the listing vehicle, Trevor saw that the axle of the right front wheel was broken. The carriage horses, their heads bowed under the desultory rainfall, whickered at the approach of Trevor and his mount, Beowulf.
The occupants of the carriage must have heard him approach, for the lady’s voice rang out into the night. “Hello? Hello, out there! I warn you, do not attempt to harm us. My.… my husband has a pistol!”
As if she’d nudged him into adding the words, her companion shouted as well, “Aye! I’m armed and dangerous!”
Dismounting, the duke left Bey under the cover of a large elm tree and approached the carriage. “I mean you no harm,” he said loudly. “I’ve just come from the village and wish to offer my assistance.”
There was a long silence in which Trevor imagined the haughty lady and her groom silently argued whether to accept his help. Then, as he watched, the carriage door opened slowly.
Stepping forward, he peered into the carriage and saw a lady huddled against the squabs of the interior, her pelisse and shawl clutched tightly around her. Her companion was a man of middle years, whose wan face and arm clutched tightly to his chest indicated that he was the injured Liston.
“We were on our way to Nettlefield House when something happened to the carriage wheel,” the lady said, her lips tight. Were it not for her cool expression, Trevor was quite convinced that she would have been among the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. Even in the dimness of the interior carriage lamps, her dark hair gleamed mahogany in sharp contrast to her porcelain complexion. Her figure, what he could see of it, was buxom. Perhaps more so than fashionable, but he had never been much of one for fashion. He liked a woman with a bit of substance. “My coachman and outriders have gone on ahead to the house to fetch help,” she went on. “I assure you we will be quite well, though I thank you for stopping.”
“Are you expected at Nettlefield House?” he asked, racking his brain to remember if either of his sisters had told him they were expecting friends sometime soon. He was about to go on, to explain that he was the master of the house, when she interjected.
“I’m sure I don’t know what business it is of yours,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. “Unless you are the Duke of Ormonde, which you clearly are not”—she looked him up and down, obviously rejecting the idea out of hand—“then I really would appreciate your assistance in getting us on our way. My man here is injured, as you can plainly see.”
Trevor bit his lip, fighting the urge to laugh aloud at her cutting remarks. Though he was technically the duke, he took no pleasure in the title. Clearly, this Lady Wharton was some sort of social climber who had come to Nettlefield in search of the new duke to beg some favor of him. There hadn’t been many who were willing to travel such great lengths to win his favor, but there had been enough that he recognized a supplicant when he saw one.
If she was expecting him to be a dim-witted yokel, however, then he’d give her one.
“Aye,” he said slowly, tugging his forelock in a sign of obeisance, “I can see yer man is hurt bad-like. Bu’ won’t do ye no good iffen ye catch the death o’ cold yerself, beggin’ yer pardon, m’lady.”
“Just what I been trying to tell ’er,” the unfortunate Liston said with a nod.
“Help’ll be on its way soon enow,” Trevor went on guilelessly, paying no heed to Lady Isabella’s pursed lips. “I thin’ it would be best iffen ye come up wi’ me on Bessie.”
Lady Isabella’s brows drew together. “Bessie?” she asked querulously.
“Aye,” Trevor said with an agreeable nod, getting into his role. “Bessie are t’best horse in all Yorkshire an’ make no mistake. She’ll carry you up wi’ me no trouble a’tall.”
The lady’s nostrils flared. “Is there some reason why she might have had trouble?” she asked silkily.
“Well, ye’re no li’l slip of a thing,” Trevor said, widening his eyes innocently. “Beggin’ yer pardon, milady.”
He could all but see the steam coming from her ears. And yet she didn’t raise a fuss as he thought she might. Instead, she looked back at Liston.
“Will you be well if I leave you here, Liston?” she asked the injured man. “I would send you away with this … this person if I thought you might ride with him without doing yourself a further injury.”
Trevor felt a pang of conscience at seeing her genuine concern for her servant. Still she had not yet proved herself to be anything other than what she seemed. A prickly society lady who had come to Nettlefield to prey upon the dukedom of Ormonde. Doubtless she had some sort of charity to fund. Or a sibling who needed schooling.
“Aye, milady,” Liston said, his pale face determined. “I don’t want you out here catching your death simply because I was too foolish to keep meself from taking a bit of a tumble. Go wi’ this fellow and get to the house. Jemison and Jeffries will be here with someone from Nettlefield before ye know it.”
“If that’s the case,” she said, looking uncertain, “then perhaps I shouldn’t—”
But Trevor was tired from his earlier labors and the rain was beginning to come down harder. “Come, milady,” he said firmly, dropping his guise of happy farmer for a moment. “Let’s get ye up to Nettlefield House. I know the master would have me head for keepin’ ye out here this long.”
With a grim nod Lady Isabella buttoned up her pelisse and donned the cloak that lay spread out behind her on the carriage seat, pulling the hood up over her carefully dressed hair.
Trevor offered her his hand, and though she glanced quizzically up at him, she took it and allowed him to assist her from the carriage. Fortunately, she’d worn heavy boots for the journey, because the ground was a soggy, muddy mess. To his surprise, she was taller than he’d supposed, her nose almost aligned with his own when she stepped out next to him. Their eyes locked for one heart-stopping moment, before she colored up and looked away.
Well, he thought with an inward grin. Perhaps the prickly London lady was less prickly than he’d at first surmised. He felt his body respond to her nearness in the automatic way it always did when confronted with a pretty girl. But there was something about this one that felt different. Which clearly meant that he’d been awake for far too long. He needed to get this chit back to Nettlefield so that he could reveal his true identity and send her back on her way. He didn’t like forcing a woman out onto the road so soon after her arrival, but if she’d come uninvited to beg or, worse, at his grandmother’s behest then there was no reason for him to feel any sympathy for her.
Didn’t stop him from feeling a churl, though.
“Up ye go,” he told her, gripping her around her trim waist and lifting her to sit sideways across Bey’s saddle. Without further ceremony he put his foot in the stirrup and mounted up behind her, slipping a protective arm around her waist to hold her steady.
It was a surprisingly intimate situation between strangers, and Trevor tried to steel himself against responding further to her nearness. But it was impossible to ignore her lavender-scented hair and the more natural, primal scents of female sweat and something that he knew instinctively was simply her.
Directing Bey into motion with a touch of his heel to the horse’s flank, he clenched his jaw and tried to ignore her. Which proved impossible given the way that her reluctance to hold on to him put them both in danger of falling. They might be atop the same horse, but Lady Isabella kept herself as far away from his body as possible.
“I won’t bite,” he said, unable to hide his amusement at her diffident grip. Ignoring her protest, he held on to her more tightly. “Unless you wish it, of course.”
He waited for an outraged gasp, but she had no doubt decided to ignore him. A few moments later, however, she said, “It’s funny. You sound like an unschooled peasant one minute, and then the next your voice has a distinctly upper-class accent.”
Caught out, Trevor thought with a frown. “I don’t suppose you’d believe that I received lessons from the local vicar?” he asked.
“Not for a moment,” she said grimly.
“Well, then, Lady Wharton,” he said calmly, “I’m afraid that I’ve misled you a bit.”
“Rather more than a bit, I think,” she said sharply. “Though I suppose the lack of proper introduction excuses you, under the circumstances…”—she paused deliberately—“Your Grace.”
“I do not use the title, as you would know if you’d done any sort of investigation at all.” He kept his gaze on the road ahead of them.
He felt her head shake against his chest. “I would not have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes,” she said. “I knew of course that you had been raised in the country and had some sort of foolish notion about refusing to take up your responsibilities, but I thought that it was an exaggeration. But it’s true.”
“You and I both know that it’s not possible for me to give up the title completely,” Trevor said reasonably. “And I fear that my grandmother’s tale of my refusal to take up my responsibilities is, like much of her talk, an exaggeration. I consult regularly with the stewards and secretaries of the duchy; I simply do not choose to go to London or to set myself up in grandeur at the ducal estate.”
“So you choose to remain here in Yorkshire playing at the role of gentleman farmer,” Lady Isabella said with a shudder. “I cannot say that I understand your position, because I do not.”
“I choose to remain here in Yorkshire because it is my home,” he said stiffly. “I have a responsibility to the people of Nettlefield and I intend to remain here, dukedom or no dukedom.
“Now,” he went on, “what brings you to Yorkshire, my lady? Are you perhaps a distant cousin in need of a loan? A young widow whose son wishes to attend Eton? Or did you come at my grandmother’s behest to persuade me to come down to London?”
She did him the courtesy of not misunderstanding him.
“The latter,” she said calmly, as if he hadn’t just accused her of being a toady. “Your grandmother has need of you in London. She is quite ill.”
“Bollocks,” he said, not bothering to guard his language. “She has need of my position because she does not have enough power on her own as the dowager. And if she’s ill then I’ll eat my hat. She sent you here to lure me with your looks—which are quite splendid by the way—back to town so that she can direct me as she sees fit. Which will not happen while there is breath in my body.”
“Oh dear,” Lady Isabella murmured. “You are quite averse to the notion, aren’t you?”
“I am indeed, so you may return to London at once and inform Her Grace that I have no intention of dancing to her tune.”
“I can hardly do so at the moment, given the state of her traveling carriage,” Lady Isabella said calmly. “I hope you do not mean to refuse me accommodation, Your Grace.” She put special emphasis on his title. “Rustic though I suppose it must be.”
“I can hardly do so and continue to call myself a gentleman,” Trevor returned. Though he’d like to, just to prove a point to his grandmother. But the punishment would be for Lady Isabella, not the dowager. Which would be fruitless. “And fear not. I believe you will find Nettlefield up to your, no doubt, exacting standards.”
They rode along in silence until finally they reached the lane leading to the manor. It was full dark now and visibility was such that only the front step was illuminated in the gloom. Even so, the house was not an unimpressive sight. Nettlefield had been built sometime in the seventeenth century by a prosperous squire whose descendent had sold the property off some two hundred years later to Trevor’s father, who had been in search of a place to settle his young family. The façade was grayed with age and weather and rather dour, but it was home.
“Your Grace,” Templeton, his butler, said from the top step, “we had begun to fear you’d met with some misadventure.”
Dismounting and reaching up to lower Lady Isabella to the ground, Trevor was pleased to see her mouth agape. Rustic accommodation indeed, he thought wryly.
“Templeton, see that the blue room is readied for our guest,” he told the butler, offering Isabella his arm as he led her up the steps. “Lady Isabella Wharton will be our guest for a few days before she returns to London.”
If Templeton thought there was anything untoward about the fact that his master had returned home with a strange lady on his arm, the older man didn’t mention it.
“Of course, Your Grace,” the butler said, bowing to their guest as they moved into the hallway. “Lady Wharton, may I offer you a warm welcome and offer my assistance should you need anything during your stay?”
“Please have Mrs. Templeton send a tea tray into the sitting room,” Trevor said, assisting Isabella to remove her cloak and handing it to a waiting maid who seemed to have appeared from nowhere.
He was leading Isabella toward the stairs when a whirling dervish in the form of his sister Belinda came bolting into the hallway. “Trevor! Thank goodness you’ve returned! Flossie is about to give birth and I fear that she simply won’t rest until she sees you!”
Copyright © 2013 by Manda Collins
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Allison Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Remember the movie “I Know What You Did Last Summer”? Add a Duke, a Lady, and subtract several hundred years, and you have the plot for Why Dukes Say I Do. The story opens when Lady Isabella Wharton is trying to save her younger sister from the clutches of her knife-wielding abusive husband. Having suffered abuse of her own by her (now deceased) husband, she is desperate to save her sister. Another friend is there with her gun, and somehow the Duke of Ormond is shot and falls on his knife, killing him instantly. Fast forward a year, and the dead duke’s grandmother is blackmailing Isabella into traveling to the countryside to fetch her other grandson Trevor, the new Duke of Ormond. Isabella reluctantly travels there to convince Trevor to take up his position in London, but along the way, accidents begin to happen. Trevor does not want to leave his home and travel to London – he is needed at his country estate by all the people depending on his leadership. So he sets out to convince Isabella that he is right where he should be. But the accidents keep happening, and now Isabella is receiving threats telling her someone knows what happened last season. Trevor finally finds out Isabella is being threatened and blackmailed and he vows to protect her. I enjoyed this story, although it took quite a while for Isabella and Trevor to fall in love, and even longer for them to kiss. I understand why, however, as Isabella only knew abuse and hatred from her previous husband, and it takes her a long time to trust another man. She grows to see Trevor is good, kind, and is doing the best he can to raise his two sisters. Trevor has his own reasons for not wanting the dukedom – his father was cut off for marrying a commoner, and banished from London to the country. He has quite a bit of anger toward his grandmother, and refuses to budge from his beloved country home. With Isabella’s help, he begins to see that he can fulfill his duties from both places. The author has a great voice, and her stories are always easy to read. She reaches out and grabs my attention right away, and keeps me interested through the whole story. Her point of view changes are always clear, and it’s easy to follow whose viewpoint we are seeing the story through. This is the first book in her “Wicked Widows” trilogy, and the ending has a definite hook – the mystery as to who is really behind the threats continues into the next book.
I never miss a Manda Collins book! I'm thrilled to see that the beginning of her new Regency Trilogy looks just as promising as her first one. Don't miss out on this one!
Isabella, Perdita and Georgina were all in the room when Perdita's hubby, the cruel and evil Duke of Ormond, was shot and stabbed to death and, now over a year later, a evil unknown nemesis wants REVENGE for the Duke's untimely death! Lady Isabella Wharton is a woman who is finally free from her hubby's hate, fists and controlling ways. It took his death in a duel over his mistress to do it, but you should never waste GREAT LUCK! Isabella has endless choices to make now and loves every minute of it. Her sister, Perdita, is safe to find love and peace or so she thought. Her Godmama, the Dowager Duchess of Ormond (so not the fairy kind), blackmail Isabella, with her sister's hope of loving marriage, if she doesn't go to convince and maybe flirt, not seduce, her grandson, the new Duke of Ormond, into coming to London and be the Duke the Duchess wants him to be. So off to untamed English village of Nettlefield, Isabella goes. Trevor Carey may be the new Duke of Ormond, but he will NEVER pick up the ducal anything, since his father was banished from his family emotional and financial for marrying the woman he love, Trevor's mom. He sees no reason to go back to the cruel bosom of the family ever. He loves his sisters, Eleanor and Belinda, his tenants, his village of Nettlefield, his home and estate that his father worked with his own hands. Trevor plans to never leave his responsibilities here for London. What do they say about plans? Exactly, don't have any! On her way to Nettlefield House, Isabella's carriage (aka the Dowager's carriage, because if she is going to be blackmailed, she will ride in comfy style) breaks down and she and Liston, her servant, are awaiting her coachman for rescue. Trevor stops to help and overhears her chatting with Liston, in her uppity London way, and he decides to have a little fun and act like a commoner, because he is sick of all the London women looking for a favor, money or worse a hubby. Isabella thinks this man is a flirt, but she needs a ride, and she let's him help her onto his horse. Trevor think this woman is a stiff as a board because she thinks he is below her. She realizes her mistake, as they travel to his Duke home, and he gives her a speech about how he will NEVER bending to his grandmother! Trevor strikes a deal, if she learns about all his responsibilities, like visiting tenants and being the magistrate, he will consider going to London and to protect her sister budding romance, she agrees. Belinda and Eleanor are screaming for female guidance and help with their over protective brother and she enjoys doing girlie things and taming Trevor's protectiveness. As Isabella receives a threaten note, Trevor learn of the carriage's axle sabotage and when Trevor talks about the carriage, she spills about the note and they decide to band together to keep her safe. As Isabella follows Trevor to learn about his responsibilities, she begins to admire this gentle, gooey hearted and down to earth man. The more time Trevor spends with Isabella his imagination begins to see her in his arms, on his lips and in his bed. When they innocently touch, HELLO sparks and then they kiss, PASSION ignites between them. With the village busybodies, toe curling kisses, threats aplenty, 2 slightly scheming sisters, more nasty blackmail, unchecked passionate embraces, a creepy man for her past, a shopping trip for his sisters and a best friend for Trevor to get advice from that help these 2 crazy kids realize that maybe LOVE is afoot. Will Isabella give her heart and control over to him? How will Trevor show her that he will treasure not control her? Can their love save Isabella from the hidden evil? Can Trevor learn to relax and let his sisters be woman? I have read this amazing book before and the 2nd time was even better. Ms. Collins spins a good mysterious tale and her hero and heroine were great together. What Isabella needed, Trevor had and visa versa. Isabella was abuse victim, but she always had an inner strength that protected her spirit and soul. Trevor was a very UNtypical duke and man for his time. He loved every seed, tenants, servant and they were all to be respected and treasured. Trevor learned this at his Father's and I believe at his mom's example, too. Ms. Collins assembled a cast of quirky characters for the village of Nettlefield. She made them so life like that I keep planning ways in my head to embarrass and humbled Mrs. Palmer permanently. Ms. Collins does set up a lot of sexual tension and some steamy scenes, but I wanted more spark worthy episodes. Abusive relationships are a tough subject to write about and Ms. Collins gave Isabella a great support system. I know Isabella is a character from a book, but abuse victims need stories, even fictional, to give them hope and show them that light, however small, is there if they grab it. I want to THANK Ms. Collins for writing this story and giving HOPE to us all. OK, nothing with the serious stuff! Ms. Collins made me lose a few calories with this tale by having me scream at Mrs. Palmer, stabbing at a nasty meanie (don't tell my librarian please I might get a fine), making tears linked from the sisterly love flowing and I had to actually turn pages because it was in paperback, so I got to eat my pasta with no guilt. This 1st book in Ms. Collins Wicked Widow series gets my score of 4 fingers up and 7 toe and don't be jealous, but I am reading book 2 NEXT! This story brought to y'all via my AWESOME library!¿
A new twist to regency romances, 3 beautiful women abused by their husbands. The murder of a duke and the emotional torture of the women involved in his death. Ms. Collins does well with her characters, I really like Isabella and Trevor grew on me. I am looking forward to the next installment.
I enjoyed reading this book. With it being set back in the old times when dukes and duchess were around. I never learned much about these times. It was very interesting to see how someone explains those times with all of the maids and servants and how they traveled in carriages and not by plane as we do now. I really liked all of the details of the book. It was hard to learn that Isabella was being blackmailed and by someone that was so close to her. I did not like the fact that her husband beat her so bad at times that it made her miscarry her unborn baby. I do love that Trevor fell head over heels for her from day one. I was surprised when he announced at the ball that they were going to be married after only knowing each other for a short time. This is a good romantic book for all to read.
WHY DUKES SAY I DO by Manda Collins is an exciting Regency Historical Romance. #1 in the "Wicked Widows" series and what a beginning. Fast paced and filled with adventure,action, secrets, widows,scandal and seduction. Join Trevor Carey,the Duke of Ormond and Lady Isabella Wharton on a journey of passion and love. What a thrill ride of a story! Ms. Collins has done it again, with her twists and turns, her engaging, charismatic characters and her intriguing storyline. Who doesn't love a great romance filled with danger and secrets. You are left wondering who is frightening the three widows and why. Oh, did I mention the passion between Trevor and Isabella is sizzling! I can hardly wait to see who the real corrupt is and why,so bring on the next installment of the "Wicked Widows". A great read and one not to missed. Received for an honest review from the publisher and Net Galley. RATING: 4. HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
The story starts off with a bang, literally. We have three society ladies involved in what would be at best described as an accidental death but the incident is used to blackmail and manipulate certain characters. Lady Isabella is forced into what she considers the wilds to bring back the grandson of her godmother, Trevor, by whatever means necessary. What follows is a delightful romance between Isabella and Trevor woven with mystery and intrigue.
I have been waiting to read the next installment from Manda ever since I’ve finished her Ugly Duckling series and this is it. This was what I have been waiting for. So we have the prologue starting off with a death (wasn’t sure how it was going to go from there) but it needed to start somewhere right? But yes, a death. (This is where Manda got her ideas for the series from. She was thinking of scary films and what not and then it hit her…wham! I know what you did last season! –Okay, yeah I stalked her at one of her blog chats and got this info from her but I needed to know, you know. I have to creep around my authors to get the good stuff out of them. I thank you very much–) This leads to the heroine, Isabella, being blackmailed by her godmother (yes, her very own upstart sneering godmother) to set against her to travel to Yorkshire to retrieve (more like seduce) the new Duke, the hero, Trevor, to come to London and hold his position to the family (and be controlled by the godmother, which is his grandmother). There were lots of things that happened in this story. It was rather a slow start to the story but it was an okay pace. The story of a blackmailer began to appear the second Isabella arrived in town which I thought was a great plot to move the relationship between the two along. Isabella thinking Trevor a mere country man got a surprise of her life when she meets him and finds that he actually lives in a very comfortable life. Trevor also finds Isabella enticing and very well knowledgeable in politics and other likes. Both characters were very likable and have flaws but also demons they had to over come. I also loved seeing them change throughout the story and see them come to trust and believe in each other as they come to know one another better during their acquaintance. I definitely loved Eleanor and Belinda, sisters of the Duke! They were so sweet and naive at times and so lovable I wanted them as my very own friends! Eleanor, at seventeen is very sweet, gentle, soft spoken and kind girl who want to be a young woman and ready for her debut. While Belinda, at thirteen was wild, out spoken, curious, opinionated and is a playful child who loved the country and never wants to leave. Trevor is very protective brother and I understood him so well on that front because, well, they’re his sisters and they will forever be children to him. I found it very sweet that he never want them to grow up and when Isabella came into their lives and started dressing Eleanor in dresses proper enough for a seventeen year old girl. Trevor thew a fit! It was very touching, although absurd that he would not want his sister to look like the young woman she has become, it was very assuring that he loved her and Belinda very much to want them to stay kids under his protection forever~ “If it were up to me she’d wear pinafores and her hair in braids for the rest of her days.” -Trevor, Duke of Ormonde. p.238 As the relationship between Trevor and Isabella moved forward I was surprise that there wasn’t much for them to stand on for the relationship to actually process in its direction. I was kind of sad that there wasn’t more tension and attraction rays shooting off the tops of their heads at each others’ presence. It was a slow start but everything also seemed to have been forced together for them to be together in a way. And their first kiss scene was….not what I wanted. Though it may have been the right time there was just not enough tension for it to be a great first kiss for the two of them for me. Even if it was well into the book and well past the half point. But back to the story of finding the culprit who’s blackmailing and threatening Isabella. Sadly I kind of figured who that person was from the gecko. But it was still a great read figuring it out if it was other people that were popping up in the story. (Sorry if I’m giving away spoilers.) I did have problems with the use of character’s names. At certain points in the dialogues the names of characters would change and it confuse me like heck! For example, at first the character was referred to by their first name, Lucian, in every dialogue he’d spoken in the beginning of the conversation with Trevor. But then, this Blackmore entered the conversation and I was at a lost! I had to re-read the whole passage and flip back to the beginning to find this Lucian gentleman just to see his full name and title, but to also make sure I wasn’t missing another gentleman in the room hearing upon this private conversation between the two. Bold and be hold Lucian is Lord Blackmore! I was very annoyed by this I shall say. I was also annoyed by the characters not referring to the other character’s name. Many times when Isabella (in her own view) was in dialogue with Trevor, the Duke of Ormonde, she (or Ms. Manda) referred to him as “the Duke“. Why can’t she just simply state him as Trevor or Osmond, instead of “the Duke said” or “the Duke this or that” ? (I’m sorry if I’m being harsh but it just really bothered me as I was reading.) I really did really like this book beside all those problems. And I really adored the friends I found in this book! Sir Lucian Blackmore is one secondary character I can’t wait to see! a friend of Trevor, we got to see a bit of his side and he is definitely a very hero-esque character. But I’m super curious and a little bite scared of what the next books will entail for him. (His book is not next but still! We got to see a bit of his romantic interest.) I’m not so sure who will end up with who because there were so many lovable characters that I’m not sure what Ms. Manda Collins will have for each of them. (well for the third book, that is.) This story ends with a good ending but the culprit at large still has more victims to target so we’ll have to see what we find of him/her in the next book.
Dissapointed! Don't waste your money. It's going on 5 days and I'm only half way in and having a hard time completing. I'm continuing only because of how much I paid for this book. It's a pity e-books are not returnable
I am so happy to have read a book that didn't feature an "innocent young miss" and the rakish duke. No, Isabella is far from innocent, though that's not entirely her own doing. She was married for quite some time and the story begins in a prologue wherein the Duke of Ormond (who was married to Isabella's sister) dies. He thoroughly deserved to die too. But that death scene gives the blackmailer (actually multiple blackmailers, technically, though only one was sinister) what they need to torment her throughout the book. Her godmother blackmails her into going to the country to collect the newly titled Duke of Ormond (who inherited because of the death). Trevor has shown no inclination to come and pick up his duties in town as the new duke, and has good reason to. His father had been essentially disowned when he married a commoner, and Trevor turned his back on the family the way they turned their backs on him. It's a great set up and Ms. Collins didn't disappoint with carry through. Isabella was strong, yet vulnerable too when it came to matters of the heart. Her marriage severely sucked. Trevor has good reason for his hatred of his family, though he's incredibly devoted to those he does care about, along with being very conscientious of his duty to those in his charge (the village around him that depends on him, in part, for their livelihoods and his sisters). These two people really needed each other and of course in the end, they find their way together. The one weak point for me in this story was the identity of the blackmailer. It seemed fairly clear in some ways (in terms of access at the right time) who the blackmailer probably was, though I didn't figure out their motivation. Not even close. That was a bit of a shocker. I don't believe I've read anything by Manda Collins before, but that will definitely change in the future. This was a lovely read and totally worth four stars.
I loved reading Manda Collins' Ugly Duckling stories, so I was really excited to get my hands on Why Dukes Say I Do. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint! There are a lot of great books out there by a lot of great authors, but Collins really shines for the originality in her stories. Once I started reading this story I had trouble setting it down. I can't wait for the next book!
I love this book. Manda is a great storyteller. I think many books are only as good as the secondary characters. I love the hero and heroine, but I also love the secondary characters. Especially Flossie :-) A Must read. I have all of Manda's books and can't wait for the next in this series
~Reviewed by SUZANNE & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog Lady Isabella Wharton, her sister and her best friend all have a secret. The know how the previous Duke of Ormond died, or rather was killed. Unfortunately Lady Isabella’s Godmother, the late Duke’s grandmother, also knows and is using the information to blackmail Isabella into bringing Trevor Casey, the new and estranged Duke of Ormond back into the family fold. But sparks soon start to fly when Isabella meets the maddening new Duke who inflames her lust as much as her anger. Soon, however, threatening notes start to arrive and it is more than her heart that is in danger as she confides in Trevor…her life may well be in peril as well. What a pleasant surprise this book was! I have been a little underwhelmed by Manda Collins Ugly Ducklings series, which although I enjoyed, it wasn’t anything outstanding. However, although Why Dukes Say I Do wasn’t perhaps original in story or characters it had that certain spark that made me unable to put it down as I devoured each page. What did stand out for me in this book was how the heroine, Isabella, changed, at first she was a bit of aloof and cold but the more you got to know her and her polite mask dropped the more I liked her and just wanted her to have a HEA. Trevor was also a great hero, I loved how he was with his younger sisters, he was so incredibly sweet and a bit clueless; it was adorable. Together they were great, maybe they didn’t have tear-your-clothes-off chemistry but they complimented each other. There was also an element of mystery in this book as Isabella is getting threatening notes and attempts on her life. Although I guessed early on whodunit, I liked that the mystery was two fold as we discover there be a mastermind behind the threats. I imagine this plot will follow through into the next book and I can’t wait to see what happens and find out who the ultimate villain is. I really enjoyed the first book in the Wicked Widows, it has started the series on a high note and I am looking forward to the next book. *ARC provided by publisher
Disclaimer-Manda Collins is a friend of mine-BUT, I only review books I love. I loved this one! I think it's Manda's best yet. Her funny voice and delightful dialogue really cut loose in this story. And, hey, it opens with a Lady of the ton wielding a knife. How could I resist that? A delightful story told in a fun, smart way. Highly recommend it.
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