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  • 2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    Meet the new star of historical romance!

    Reading and reviewing so many books makes you wonder sometimes if you’re becoming jaded, blasé, and then you come across a glittering, sparkling jewel like HOW THE DUKE WAS WON, and everything is right with the world again. James, Duke of Harland, had never given marriage a single thought until his father and brother died in an unfortunate accident. James, “His Disgrace” must choose a bride of impeccable breeding to offset everything he is not. James had been abroad for ten years, roaming the world and overseeing his cocoa plantations in Trinidad and Venezuela; he doesn’t even care about behaving like a proper duke, that is, like his late father. So he decided to send invitations to the four most promising candidates and over three days, choose one for a bride. Then he will sire an heir and go back to the West Indies. No love, no lust will be involved, it’s a business transaction like any other. One of those ladies is Lady Dorothea Beaumont, unfortunately she is in Italy, but her mother knows of her illegitimate half-sister, Charlene Beckett. Charlene’s mother owns a bawdy house and trained Charlene to be a courtesan, however Charlene refused: she’s rather do the ladies’ washing than prostitute herself. The Becketts are indebted to a Lord Grant who had loaned Charlene’s mother money to make a go of her bordello, and now he wants his money back, but there is no money. If there is no money to be had, he will take Charlene or worse her fourteen year-old sister Luisa. When Dorothea’s mother, Lady Desmond, comes to Charlene to ask her to pose as Dorothea, Charlene hesitates, but she and Dorothea could pass as twins and the money Lady Desmond will give Charlene will solve all her problems. The only thing she has to do is seduce the Duke of Harland so he asks Dorothea’s hand in marriage. I read the blurb, and I thought HOW THE DUKE WAS WON sounded entertaining and fun, but only saying this would do such a phenomenal book a disservice. The premise sounded a tad shaky, but it is not at all: the whole plot is airtight. Ms. Bell has woven an extraordinary story where I laughed myself silly at the beginning: there are hilarious episodes, very witty dialogue, and I have seldom seen a cast of equally fabulous characters. I am not even going to reveal hints of spoilers, but Charlene can take care of herself in spectacular fashion; she’s extremely clever and dedicated to helping the downtrodden and abused, as best as she can. James is nothing like your average reprobate duke; he even has a broken nose! He’s an extremely complex fellow, a true eccentric, and he is absolutely wonderful; I adored both Charlene and James. Ms. Bell’s exceptional attention to historical detail makes, what might have started as an outrageous romp, an intriguing look into every level of Regency society, and somehow I had the feeling that things that might first appear as ridiculous were most likely how it happened in real life. HOW THE DUKE WAS WON is very fast-paced, and I read it in one sitting, because no way was I going to put that book down! The writing is impeccable and eloquent, the dialogues simply scrumptious, the romance entirely believable and positively divine. I also loved reading about everything that had to do with cocoa and chocolate; Lenora Bell certainly did her homework! I had no idea how the story would end, given a few stunning plot twists, and I read with bated breath, while I wiped a tear or two. HOW THE DUKE WAS WON is enthralling, seductive, and genuinely charming; I cannot wait for the next instalments – plural I hope! Lenora Bell is a true star: Brava! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    Utterly Marvelous!

    4/4.5 Stars | Hot Steam Tempted by its delightful heroine-in-disguise premise and the mouthwatering prospect of an uncivilized duke, I couldn’t wait to read Lenora Bell’s Avon debut, HOW I WON THE DUKE. And—oh my swooning stars—how I adored it! Brilliant, uproarious, deliciously sensual, and utterly marvelous, I couldn’t put it down! Every sumptuous minute I spent blithely immersed in Charlene and James’ vivacious tale felt like a precious gift. Cannily penned with dazzling wit, artistry, confidence, and command, Lenora Bell’s stellar first novel is a captivating pager-turner that enchants and entertains from its buoyant start to its blissful conclusion. Worldly, arrogant, untamed, ruggedly sexy, and wickedly delectable, the colossal Duke of Harland branded my heart the instant “His Disgrace” launched daggers at his wall littered with the demure illustrations of marriageable debutantes. Perfectly piratical through and through, James steals every scene he inhabits as he repeatedly and unrepentantly shocks and scandalizes his invited flock of young and bejeweled prospective duchesses and their perpetually huffy and ruffled mamas. It was so much rollicking fun to watch the unkempt duke’s hasty, unorthodox, and hilariously passionless plan supremely backfire the moment he laid his lust-filled eyes on “Lady Dorothea,” aka Charlene. Already brusque and unhinged prior to her arrival, James’ sudden, acute attraction to Charlene rapidly transforms him into a thunderous, primal beast—barely restrained, frustrated, and starved for her touch. Gratifyingly, as he gets to know her, his heated interest evolves from an inconvenient thorn in his inflamed libido into a full-blown, blinding obsession. James finds himself not only anguished to discover and devour every inch of her succulent curves, he increasingly desires and admires her surprising strength, warmth, nonconformity, and inspiring compassion for those less fortunate. She’s flat-out glorious, and I effortlessly fell in love with her just as James did. They make a riveting pair whose timeless connection and simmering chemistry is enviable, fabulously provocative, and immensely satisfying to read. I treasured Charlene and James’ winning romance and am now counting down the days until the second Disgraceful Dukes novel, IF I ONLY HAD A DUKE, releases this August. Dorothea and Garrett’s story sounds like my next heavenly escape! Bottom Line: Lenora Bell’s astonishing debut is not to be missed! Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
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