The Disgraceful Dukes #1
Narrated by: Beverley A. Crick
Release Date: December 20, 2016
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Audio. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #AudioChallenge, #BloggerShame, #COYER, #ShelfLove
The pleasure of your company is requested at Warbury Park. Four lovely ladies will arrive... but only one can become a duchess.
James, the scandalously uncivilized Duke of Harland, requires a bride with a spotless reputation for a strictly business arrangement. Lust is prohibited and love is out of the question.
Four ladies. Three days. What could go wrong?
She is not like the others...
Charlene Beckett, the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan, has just been offered a life-altering fortune to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke's proposal. All she must do is:
* Be the perfect English rose [Ha!]
* Breathe, smile, and curtsy in impossibly tight gowns [blast Lady Dorothea's sylph-like figure]
* Charm and seduce a wild duke [without appearing to try]
* Keep said duke far, far from her heart [no matter how tempting]
When secrets are revealed and passion overwhelms, James must decide if the last lady he should want is really everything he needs. And Charlene must decide if the promise of a new life is worth risking everything...including her heart.
First thing, I have to confess I picked How the Duke Was Won solely because it was narrated by Beverley A. Crick. I listened to Crick once before and am a total fangirl (thanks, Berls!). Her narration is more a dramatic interpretation - a total aural delight! Her delivery is How the Duke Was Won solidified my opinion so I know I'll be seeking her out more. Her accents and range for every character plus her ability to be consistent with them is impressive. And she makes me feel as though I'm watching a play rather than listening to an audiobook. She's incredible!
As for the actual story...Lenora Bell is a new-to-me author and with How the Duke Was Won, she earned a fan in me. The story is well-constructed, flowed well, was engaging, kept me guessing, and the characters were well-drawn and compelling.
Charlene, the feisty and outspoken young woman who is so compassionate she'd do just about anything to secure the freedom of her mother and so many other young women desire but have not other option than to sell themselves. Charlene also was determined to protect her younger sister from the world they'd been born into. Charlene wasn't meek or docile. No, she gave her opinion freely, especially to the Duke and most especially when she felt he was doing wrong.
James, the newly-minted Duke of Harland, never wanted the title or the responsibility. His plan is to secure a respectable wife - to garner respect for himself - as well as a connected family who will solve his tax issues. However, being that James is anything but a well-mannered Englishman, he can't help but be drawn to Charlene's vivacity and impropriety. Unfortunately, she isn't who she's claiming to be and therefore doesn't suit his designs.
Oh but I had fun watching these two fall. They both tried with all their might not to, for vastly different reasons, but they couldn't help themselves. Then there was the suspense over whether James would figure out things and what his reaction would be on top of worrying over an issue Charlene and her mother were dealing with. I appreciated the history lessons on child labor laws, chocolate, and taxes on imports and exports. In all, How the Duke Was Won is a bundle of goodness delivered and brought to brilliant life by a talented author and narrator.