THE DUKE IN MY BED - Amelia Grey
The Heirs' Club of Scoundrels
St. Martin's Paperbacks
England, Regency Period
Bray Drake, Marquis of Lockington, will become the Duke of Drakestone, which allows him membership in the Heirs' Club. After a night of heavy drinking, he takes part in a carriage race on Rotten Row in London, which results in the death of Nathan Prim, Viscount Wayebury. While Prim lays in the street surrounded by those who made bets on the race, he makes a last request that Drake marry his sister Louise, and Drake agrees.
Two years later Drake has now inherited the title of duke, but he has still not asked Louisa Prim to marry him. Everyone is betting heavily on whether he will or won't. Louisa and her four younger sisters are now in London, so Drake does the honorable thing and asks her to marry him, even if her younger sisters are anathema to him. She refuses him. Piqued, he promises her she will now have to ask him to marry her . While avoiding her on one hand, he can't stop his fascination with Louisa on the other.
Louisa finds the duke attractive but knows he will never accept her sisters. She is their sole caretaker, and she will never marry anyone who won't accept them into the family. Matter of fact, she doesn't plan to marry, but her uncle, the new Viscount Wayebury, gave the duke guardianship over her and her sisters while providing his London house so his nieces could stay in London for the season, hopefully to marry off her sister Gwen and herself. He even provided a chaperone to take her to all the events. The chaperone is only too glad to use the duke's assets to get the girls ready.
While it is true opposites often attract, both this heroine and hero have strong reasons to avoid this relationship. Louisa comes from a loving family, and she will not relinquish the care of her sisters. Yet Bray, while never abused, was never more than the heir. His father did train Bray to his position, but his son learned little about family. Everyone in London seems to have an opinion and interest in the proposal, even the Prince Regent. While the premise is interesting and the characters seem genuine, it was very hard to get involved with the story as the characters were often deep in self-introspection. However, many humorous and tense situations develop, and a rather abrupt change of heart leads to a satisfyingly romantic conclusion.