WHEN THE DUKE FOUND LOVE - Isabella Bradford
Wylder Sisters, Book 3
Ballantine Books
ISBN-13:  978-0-345-52733-2
December 2012
Historical Romance

London, England - 1764

For the past several years, Lady Diana Wylder has watched her two older sisters marry the men their father, the Earl of Hervey, arranged for them before his death.  Sister Charlotte is now the Duchess of Marchbourne and Lizzie is now the Duchess of Hawkesworth.  Mama has arranged Diana's marriage to the Marquis of Crump, simply because Diana has had several minor indiscretions, nothing serious, but her reputation is now such that tattle has spread around about her, and it is hard to get a respectable marriage offer from someone else.  After meeting Lord Crump, Diana's worst expectations come true; he is dour, barely talks, and even dislikes her hat with the excruciatingly beautiful ostrich plumes and pink silk flowers and walks away from her in a public park to discuss politics with a friend.  No real gentleman ever leaves a lady alone in public.  When Diane tries to get off the path so no one notices her, she meets a dog sniffing at her feet and his master, a thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable man who steals a kiss from her.  Blast, now she meets a man who attracts her when she is promised to another.

George Charles Bramley Atherton, the fourth Duke of Sheffield, has been called back to London from Paris because of slight problem with a married woman he was trying to have a tryst with.  The Duke of Breconridge raised him after his parents died, and he considers him a father/brother figure.  In order to keep Sheffield out of any more trouble, Brecon has decided being married is the only thing that will calm his wild ways, and Lady Enid Lattimore is his intended bride.  When Lady Enid finds out he does not read Greek or Latin, she flatly refuses to marry him because her heart is taken by her brother's former tutor, a minister and scholar.  For some reason this piques Sheffield's interest, and he promises Lady Enid that if she pretends to be engaged to him he will do everything he can to enable her to elope with her beloved.

When Sheffield and Diana realize both of them are engaged to someone they don't love, they have different responses.  Diana is certain Sheffield, with his reputation, is only leading her along, and it is her duty to marry Lord Crump.  She must accept her fate as every other society woman does in marrying an acceptable man, whether she loves him or not, though she despairs of ever having a kind feeling for him.  Sheffield doesn't know what he will do, but he is determined they are meant to be together and will try to come up with a plan to ensure he ends up with the only woman who brightens his life.

Isabella Bradford continues the story of the three Wylder sisters and how fate gives each of them her heart's delight.  Diana at first isn't even interested in getting married and is starting to enjoy herself in London society.  Sheffield is returning from Paris under a cloud of disgrace.  His assignation with a married woman was ruined when she told her husband and word got out in Paris and he had to leave in a rush.  They each have a reputation with society: Diana for choosing disreputable men, and Sheffield for dalliances with many women.  But when Diana and Sheffield meet each other, they are both sure they have met the person they were meant to be with; unfortunately they are each engaged to another. Told from Diana's and Sheffield's points of view, how they extricate themselves from other people is at the center of the story,

Poor Diana and Sheffield have many relatives to contend with.  Diana has her mother and sister Charlotte, each determined to see her married to a respectable man, and probably to get her off their hands.  Brecon is Sheffield's uncle and pretty much raised him, and Sheffield has great respect and love for him.  Lady Enid Lattimore is Sheffield's betrothed, and despite being in love with her brother's tutor, Dr. Pullings, who can speak Greek, they have quite a calm and satisfactory relationship while Sheffield's plan to help them is completed.  There is no finding anything pleasant about Lord Crump, a fact Diana quickly learns, and he doesn't get better the more she learns of him.

WHEN THE DUKE FOUND LOVE is the third of the Wylder Sisters series, and ends up with all three sisters being married to the men they love.  Diana and Sheffield found love themselves without being promised to each other years ago like her sisters, but despite their reputations of having little sense of the importance of marriage, they find each other and will not accept anyone else.  The other books in the series are WHEN YOU WISH UPON A DUKE (August 2012) and WHEN THE DUCHESS SAID YES (October 2012).  If historical romances are your favorites, then this series is sure to hit all the high marks and hold your interest through each book.

Carolyn Crisher