RULES TO CATCH A DEVILISH DUKE – Suzanne Enoch
The Scandalous Brides , Book 3
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Greaves Park, Yorkshire, England – 1800's
Sophia White has agreed to attend the Christmas celebration at the home of Adam Baswich, the Duke of Greaves, in the far off wilds of Yorkshire. When the coach she's riding crashes after the bridge collapses into the frozen river, Sophia wonders if she would have been smarter to not attend the party. But Sophia has a reason behind going to the duke's holiday party, and it's kind of bittersweet. Sophia's father, the Duke of Hennessy, is behind her actions. Born on the wrong side of the blanket with one of the duke's servants, Sophia has never been acknowledged by her father, and after she started working at the Tantalus Club, an exclusive gentleman's establishment, the duke is worried that someone will find out she is his natural daughter and ruin his reputation. He has arranged for Sophia to marry a vicar in the far north, and if she doesn't he will use all his considerable reputation to ruin her friends who own the Tantalus Club, Lord and Lady Haybury. The Club provides employment for many young women who have been shunned by society and might otherwise only have the streets to make a living. Just once, before she marries the vicar, Sophia wants to spend Christmas in a grand house and make many memories to take with her to live with the rest of her life.
Adam Baswich is in a quandary; he needs a wife within the next two months to keep his title and lands. He has invited all the acceptable women he knows to his house to get to know them and hopes to choose a wife by Christmas. He only asked Sophia to the party, really, to start gossip among the people over having a commoner and an employee of the Tantalus Club attend. The girls who work at the club are generally considered whores, and he really invited Sophia for the ridicule she will attract. Great guy, right? But with the collapsed bridge, no one can get to the house after he rescues Sophia from the freezing river. During the following days, Adam realizes what a special woman Sophia is, and why she came to the party. While he doesn't mind sleeping with her, he certainly never considers her worthy of marriage.
As the women arrive for the party, Adam must contemplate his life married to each of them. As Sophia endures each snide remark in her own calm manner, Adam comes to realize she is the only woman he feels connected to, and wonders whether making her his mistress after about a year would solve his problem of needing a wife and a lover. Needless to say, Adam certainly must reconsider what kind of life he wants to live.
Suzanne Enoch has once again drawn us into the lives of young women forced by society to work at the Tantalus Club to earn a living. Sophia's mother died when she was young, and by some means she was sent to school and educated, but no education can make up for her birth. Greaves lives and loves his position as a duke and has enjoyed it for years, until the terms of his father's will get too close for comfort. He must marry before turning thirty and produce an heir within a year. Sophia is a happy and content woman; she can't do anything about her circumstances and strives to make the best of every situation. Perhaps the vicar won't be too bad. She knows what society thinks about her but is content in her own skin. Adam is a pretentious and stuck-up man so used to living with his word never being questioned that he can't imagine giving up his position, and he tries to convince himself a loveless marriage is the way of society and he will learn to live with it.
Secondary characters include all the invited members of the holiday party; mostly women so that Adam has a good selection to choose from. Sophia's special friends, Keating and Camille Blackwood, are also part of the party; and Adam in desperation turns to an old enemy, Lord Haybury, to help him at a crossroads in his relationship.
RULES TO CATCH A DEVILISH DUKE continues the story of Adam, whom we have met in previous stories. Part of The Scandalous Brides series, following A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO RAKES (October 2011) and TAMING AN IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE (March 2012), this is a standalone book that will introduce you to the spoiled Duke of Greaves, who is impossibly slow in listening to his heart, and Sophia, who only wishes to make the best of every situation and remain true to herself. The next story in the series, THE HANDBOOK TO HANDLING HIS LORDSHIP, comes out in the Spring 2013. Enjoy the building of a relationship between the duke and the commoner and how Adam finally realizes what is important to his life.