Tuesday, May 1, 2018

BLOG TOUR: A Duke Like No Other (Review + Giveaway)


First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the other way around. . .
General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.


Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman. 
A Duke Like No Other
Playful Brides #9
Valerie Bowman
Pub Date: 5/1/18
St. Martin's Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 4/5
Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | BAM | IndieBound | Powells


Perfect for fans of Amelia Grey and Suzanne Enoch, A Duke Like No Other gives readers a taste of a whirlwind romance pitted against separation and issues of trust. With a twist on a familiar romance trope, Valerie Bowman's power couple in the latest Playful Brides novel are playing the loving husband and wife in order for Mark to obtain a promotion to Home Secretary. After 10 long years of separation, Mark and Nicole may have a delayed chance of a happy ever after but first things first, they have to solve a murder.

One of the things I truly appreciated about this story was the smidgen of mystery. Murder was perfect to open they way for Mark's secrets to be revealed and a little investigation never worked against a story! Sometimes I find historical romances to be wordy or more focused on drawing the readers' attention to scenery but this story is a great balance of heartfelt memories and fast-paced romance. Valerie Bowman doesn't waste any time diving into Mark and Nicole's story. In passages that tell their story from the moment they met, readers dive into their cores to reach their secret desires and hopes for the future. The story is tender in its ability to make you crave for a first love that can withstand so much hurt, and curious for it's unique ability to make you wonder 'what if'.

The story would not be compelling if it weren't also for the characters. Nicole particularly stood out to me because she was independent for a woman of that time period. In a time when London didn't yet have an actual police force, a young lady risked danger and a damaged reputation to help in the fight against crime. Nicole knows her mind and has a backbone of steel that any reader will admire!

Certainly, there isn't anything routine about A Duke Like No Other. If you like the fake dating theme then you'll enjoy Bowman's twist. Mark and Nicole are already married, but have to pretend to be reconciled for the sake of Mark's career. I must admit that was a new one for me, but it's so well written that I can definitely see myself seeking out similar stories in the future.
*ARC provided in consideration for review*

Read on for a sneak peak and giveaway!

EXCERPT:



CHAPTER THREE

Mark quirked his mouth into a half smile. Nicole had always been direct. It was one of the things that had first drawn him to her. She wasn’t about to let him get away with arriving unannounced without admitting that he wanted something. Good, because he liked to be direct too. “You’re right. I do want something from you.”
“Say it.” She crossed one leg over the other and for the life of him he couldn’t stop staring at how those breeches hugged her long legs. Outside, he’d been slightly obsessed with how they hugged another part of her anatomy. And that shirt . . . the one that was exposing her chest in a way that made the back of his neck sweat. Leave it to Nicole to have her hair down and to be wearing breeches while riding around a French château on a horse named Atalanta. She’d been besting the comte in the race they’d been engaged in. That was also like her. She adored competition and hated to lose at anything. If he had any hope of her saying yes to his proposal, he needed to make certain he didn’t become her adversary . . . again.
He glanced around the drawing room. Outfitted in rose and cream silks with the occasional hint of green, the room was tastefully decorated. The château itself was large and well appointed without being ostentatious. She had access to his money but had never spent a shilling of it. No, this was all a result of her own money or her family’s.
He spread his arms wide along the back of the settee. “No reminiscing? No catching up? No discussing the good times?”
Her dark red eyebrow inched even higher. “Were there good times? I seem to recall those being few and far between.”
“There were a few.” In bed. He tugged at his collar.
She poked at the chignon on the back of her head. Only she could make a quickly put-together hair arrangement look effortlessly gorgeous. Several tendrils of the long red locks fell to frame her face, which wore a decidedly disgruntled look. “Out with it. I’m quite busy. I’m attending a dinner party this evening and I must dress.”
Mark bit the inside of his cheek but ultimately he couldn’t keep the comment that had sprung to his lips to himself. “A cleaner pair of breeches?” Damn, she looked good in those breeches. She looked good altogether. Better than good. The years had been kind to her. The fresh-faced plumpness of her cheeks had given way to a slenderness that made her cheekbones prominent. Her lips were still full and pink and inviting. Her hair luxurious, soft and smooth. Her eyes looked more world-weary, to be sure, but their sea-foam-green depths were still astute and intelligent. Her body was still trim and fit. Her thighs looked even fitter, probably from riding astride. Ahem. What he wouldn’t give to see those thighs once more, to have them wrapped tightly around his—
“Despite my present appearance, I do own a gown or two.” Her words snapped him out of his indecent line of thought. She gave him another tight smile.
He stood, crossed to the nearby sideboard, and poured himself a brandy. “Going to meet the comte again?”
“Careful,” came her throaty voice from the settee. “It’s nearly sounding as if you’re jealous.”
Still facing the sideboard, he cocked his head to the side. “Jealous? Whatever does that word mean?”
“The comte is a friend, nothing more.” Her voice sounded dismissive. He didn’t believe her, however.
Mark splashed more brandy into his glass. “I’m certain you’d tell me if he weren’t.”
“I’m certain you’d care.”
Mark turned back toward her and took a healthy swig of his drink. “A man doesn’t like to think of his wife in the bed of another.”
She actually rolled her eyes at that comment. “Oh, you’ve been celibate all these years then?” she countered, her voice dripping with skepticism.
He had been, but he’d die a slow death back in the French prison camp before he told her that. However, he wasn’t so unrealistic as to think Nicole would have remained untouched. They had agreed to part ways, hadn’t seen each other in ten years. She was a beautiful woman in the prime of her life. Still, the notion of punching the comte dead in the face held a great deal of appeal at the moment. “I’ve never been one to kiss and tell, love.”
She gave him a tight smile, which clearly indicated she didn’t believe him, either. “You’re a general now?” she asked abruptly, clearly ready to change the subject.
“I am.” He moved to the window and looked out across the lavender fields, one arm held behind his ramrod-straight back as if he were surveying a battlefield. The stance was still comfortable for him even after all these years of working for the Home Office.
“I suppose congratulations are in order.” The tea arrived and Nicole poured a cup for herself and splashed in a liberal amount of cream. He remembered that about her. She took her tea with no sugar, just cream.
“No congratulations needed,” he intoned, taking another swig of brandy.
The silver spoon she used to stir her tea clinked against the delicate china teacup. “I must admit, I’ve often wondered when I’d get a missive that you’d been killed.”
His chuckle was humorless. He turned to face her. “Such little faith in me? Or wishful thinking?”
“Neither,” she replied, lifting the cup to her pink lips. “Just a profound knowledge of how reckless you are.”
He inclined his head. “Used to be.”
“Really?” She raised a brow. “Is that why you’ve come? To tell me you’ve changed?”
He chuckled. “I haven’t changed that much.”
“I’m not surprised.” She set down her teacup and crossed her arms over her chest. “Tell me, Mark, why have you come?”
He saluted her with his glass, the amber-colored liquid shining in the afternoon sunlight. “You were right. I need a favor from you.”
She didn’t so much as bat an eyelash. “Of course you do. What’s the favor?” She picked up her cup once more and took a sip.
He downed the final splash of brandy and met her gaze. “I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”



Copyright © 2018 by Valerie Bowman in A Duke Like No Other and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks. 

ENTER TO WIN:

St. Martin's Press is sponsoring the giveaway for one (1) finished paperback copy of A DUKE LIKE NO OTHER! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below. I will contact the winner and send their info to the publisher to fulfill. Giveaway closes May 8, 2018 at midnight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.

Connect with Valerie: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest
Reactions:

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting! I appreciate any feedback and all comments!