WHEN THE DUCHESS SAID YES Isabella Bradford
Wylder Sisters,
Book 2
Ballantine
ISBN-13: 978-0-345-52731-8
October 2012
Historical Romance

London, England 1762

The Duke of Hawkesworth has been promised since he was a child to a woman he has never met.  Since the death of his father, he has spent the last ten years in his beloved Italy, but if he doesn't marry the girl before she turns 19, he will lose all the money in his father's estate.  He will still be the Duke, but without the money that goes with his title, and, really, what use is a title?  But just the thought of marriage is totally depressing.  He has been back in England for over two weeks, and still can't force himself to meet the girl and start arrangements for the wedding.  That's why he's at the opera with an old friend, whiling away the time, until he spots a vision in pink across from his box.  He smiles; she smiles, and he is instantly infatuated.  But before he can get his friend to tell him who this beauty is, she disappears.  He puts off meeting his betrothed and spends the next several days checking all the brothels for his vision, to no avail.  Finally agreeing to face the music, he agrees to meet Lady Elizabeth Wylder, or Lizzie, the sister-in-law of the Duke of Marchbourne, and his wife, Lizzie's eldest sister, Charlotte, at a masquerade at Ranelagh Gardens.  As he reluctantly arrives at Ranelagh, he spots his vision and steals a kiss from her.  He feels cursed because he must wed another.

Lizzie knows her father arranged this marriage to the Duke of Hawkesworth before he died many years ago and accepts that this is the way things are done; she sincerely hopes her marriage turns out as good as her sister Charlotte's.  Charlotte's husband, The Duke of Marchbourne, isn't so happy, as he considers it the cut direct that Hawk hasn't presented himself since he returned to England, and when he sends a message he can't make the masquerade, he is irate.  Emergency measures are in order, and he sends Hawk's mother and cousin, Brecon, to bring him to tea to meet Lizzie.  People will begin to talk if Hawk continues to ignore Lizzie and neglect their wedding.  It is when Lizzie and Charlotte go walking around Ranelagh while waiting for Hawk that Lizzie spots the man from across the opera who smiled at her.  A little light flirtation and a kiss occur before she remembers why she's there and leaves immediately.  Imagine their surprise when they meet!  Hawk can't wait to get married, and declares three weeks is long enough to wait.  Perhaps they will have a passionate and romantic stage of their marriage, but what will Lizzie do when she finds out Hawk is only intending to stay until an heir is born, and then he intends to return to Italy and maintain the lifestyle that he had before?

Isabella Bradford continues the story of the Wylder sisters, and here we meet Lizzie, who considers herself the quiet, middle sister, with no real beauty or accomplishments.  Hawk is determined to wed her and then, after siring an heir, return to Italy and continue his interrupted life.  With his wife and child in England, they will both be free to make whatever arrangements they like, as long as they are discreet.  That has been the way with all the Hawkesworth men, so why go against tradition?  These are two very disparate people, and yet attraction can never be explained, and the attraction between them is a full of the first flush of love and lust, but Hawk is sure that when it is over, as it always is, saner minds will go back to life the way it was before their attraction.  Very descriptive and fast paced, and told from Lizzie's and Hawk's points of view, both of them find it hard to deal with the attraction between, and Lizzie worries about how a duchess is supposed to act.

Secondary characters include March and Charlotte, Lizzie's brother-in-law and sister, and Hawk's cousin, the Duke of  Breconridge, a calm voice in the sea of Hawk's tangled feelings.

WHEN THE DUCHESS SAID YES is the second book in the Wylder Sisters series, following WHEN YOU WISH UPON A DUKE (August 2012).  This is totally a standalone read, so do not hesitate to read it because it's not the first in the series.  Coming in November 2012, is WHEN THE DUKE FOUND LOVE, featuring the youngest Wylder sister, Diana.  A pleasant and sweet series, the Wylder sisters are sure to hold your interest and give you hours of reading enjoyment.

Carolyn Crisher