DUCHESS BY DESIGN – Maya Rodale
New York City – 1895
Brandon Fiennes, the Duke of Kingston, has sailed to New York City to find a bride. With the family's fortune gone, Kingston must find a rich American wife to rescue them. Arriving in Manhattan, he settles into his fashionable hotel, ready to take on the eligible heiresses at his disposal. So, when he literally bumps into a thoroughly lovely young woman dressed exquisitely almost immediately, Kingston thinks his search may be over.
Adeline Black has an important appointment at the Fifth Avenue Hotel to meet a wealthy heiress who wants a fitting and to order gowns from Madame Chalfont's shop where Adeline works. Secretly, Adeline is also hoping to show Miss Burnett some of her own designs. As she hurries into the lobby, with only minutes to spare before her appointment, Adeline smacks head on into the latest most eligible bachelor to arrive from England. They ride the elevator up to Miss Burnett's floor (which is also the Englishman's floor) and part without exchanging names, although Adeline is well aware of the news of the duke's arrival in town. She is also sure that the duke was openly flirting with her. Too bad, though, for Adeline has dreams of opening her own dress shop and wants nothing to do with marriage.
It falls to Kingston to track down the elusive young woman he met at the hotel. He is instantly fascinated with her cheeky remarks and the fact that she seems to be totally unimpressed with who he is. But when he discovers she's a dressmaker, his spirits sink. He must think of his mother, sisters, and the failing estate, so he has no choice but to wed a rich girl.
For Adeline, the answer is clear, she has dreams, and they don't include a handsome duke. But he keeps popping into her life, and soon the tabloids are awash with rumors of Kingston and a “mystery” woman. Even when he offers to escort her to social events so that she can show off her creations, things don't go as planned.
DUCHESS BY DESIGN is a refreshingly different premise with a modern young woman and a duke who struggles with what is right, and what his heart wants. This tale is fun, realistic, and well written.