WHAT TO DO WITH A DUKE – Sally MacKenzie
The Spinster House Series, Book 1
London and Loves Bridge, England, 1817
For 200 years, the Dukes of Hart have been under a curse placed on them by the third duke's pregnant lover after he married another. Because of it, five subsequent dukes have all died between getting an heir on their wives and the births of their sons. Now that Marcus, the present Duke of Hart, has passed his thirtieth birthday, his life is flat and he's no longer satisfied with the meaningless slaking of lust. He's feeling as though there is an empty place within him; that he wants something he can't name. He worries it might be a longing for a real home with a family. Yet Marcus knows he must put off marriage and begetting an heir if he wants to live some years longer. He's considering escaping London where his title, fortune and looks make him a target of hungry husband hunters–and ladies who wouldn't mind being a wealthy widow. But then he receives a summons from his solicitor in Loves Bridge concerning the tenancy of the Spinster House. It seems the originator of the curse made stipulations that her house in the village must be set aside for the use of a spinster of the town. The previous tenant has married, and the duke has only a few days to find another to take her place. Marcus has only been to Hart's Castle once before, and that was when he was ten and his guardian (his Uncle Philip) brought him to install the last incumbent of the house.
Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting, known as Cat by friends and family, answers the door when the duke arrives at the vicarage in Loves Bridge. Cat has made up her mind to never marry. At twenty four and the eldest of the vicar's ten children, she has seen what a woman who marries has to give up. Cat wants to write books, but she is never alone. When she learns that the visitor is the Duke of Hart there to choose a new spinster for the house, she's determined to be theone. While Marcus agrees, they soon learn there are two other candidates—friends of Cat—and the new tenant is to be selected in three days by drawing straws.
Marcus begins to have feelings for Cat, strong feelings of lustthat he fights with all he has. As for Cat, this inexperienced virgin can't help but admire the man's good looks, but she has no idea what her strange reaction to him means.
What follows are sprightly battles: those between the spinsters and those Marcus and Cat have with themselvesand each other. Then there are Marcus's two friends, his cousin Nate, Marquess of Haywood, and Alex, the Earl of Evans, who accompanied him to Loves Bridge. With all these actors, there is a lot of action. Each chapter, moreover, begins with a passage from Isabelle Dorring's diary, the originator of the curse. Legends have grown up around her and the fallout from the curse. Is there a way to nullify it?
Written with deep insight and no little humor, WHAT TO DO WITH A DUKE is a captivating tale, with at least two sequels to follow.