Title: The Duke's Disaster
Series & Book #: True Gentlemen #0.5
Author: Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From: NetGalley
Reviewed For: Sourcebooks
Noah Winters, Duke of Anselm, exercises pragmatism for which he's infamous when his preferred choice of bride cries off, and her companion, Lady Thea Collins, becomes his next choice for his duchess. Lady Thea's mature, sensible and even rather attractive-what could possibly go wrong?
As a lady fallen on hard times, Thea doesn't expect tender sentiments from His Grace, but she does wish Noah had courted her trust, lest her past turn their hastily arranged marriage into a life of shared regrets. Is His Grace courting a convenient wife, or a beautiful disaster?
Other books in this series
(Please note: This story deals with rape. While it's hinted at throughout the story, Thea does eventually share what happened that night with Noah. Please take this into consideration before reading further or purchasing this book.)
Noah and Thea's marriage didn't begin with courtship (unless you count the few days he waited for her answer) and it didn't begin with instalust or love at first sight. He needed a duchess and she was going to need somewhere new to go when her charge married. A marriage for them seemed the right thing to do, but saying "I am not a nice man" isn't exactly a good way to start one, you know?
Nevertheless, they find themselves married and on the road to...happily ever after? Not quite. Both Noah and Thea entered their marriage with secrets. Noah's secret wasn't as dire as I thought. It proved he was a good man, a man who cared for his family no matter how they came to be his family. Thea's secret was harder to digest. Rape isn't pretty. No author can make that kind of violation beautiful.
Something like that can't be easy to talk about, especially if the someone who should know is virtually a stranger. I couldn't blame Thea for not telling him. She was fallen already, the daughter of an earl working as a companion. Society would have had a field day if word of that dreadful night ever got out. They would have been labeled her a whore, whispered about how she probably enticed her assaulter, would never have received a companion position anywhere. The only position she would have been offered was one on her back.
Noah's handling of the situation could have been better. I didn't like how he shut her out almost right away or how he picked at that fact without giving her time to explain. I get that he had a right to know but I can't bring myself to accept that he could be so cold over it. Right away, like the rest of the society would have done, he blamed her and I didn't like him for some of this story.
Acceptance and truth have a way of changing circumstances. The change can be good, it can be bad. Noah's eventual acceptance of Thea's less than perfect state helped their marriage move forward somewhat. Thea's eventual trust in Noah gave her the courage to tell him about that night. The undeniable bond they shared fortified their marriage even more, enabling it to withstand anything they faced alone and together.
I enjoyed this story. The banter between Noah and Thea was amusing. The constant thievery of bed covers, cups of tea, and buttered toasts made me smile. I loved that familiarity with them, how they lovingly teased each other about those kinds of things. And contrary to the title, Thea wasn't Noah's disaster. The rest of world might have viewed her as such if they'd known her secret, but she wasn't that to Noah at all. She was love and goodness and home. She was beautiful inside and out. She was nice. *smiles* And she taught Noah to be nice, even if it was in the privacy of their bedchamber.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish won Best Historical Romance of the Year in 2011 from RT Reviewers' Choice Awards, Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.