Charlene, the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan, is being raised in a brothel and trained to follow her mother, Madame Swan's, career at the Pink Feather. So far, her duties have only involved washing clothes and cleaning. But she has met some of the more evil men, especially one particular lord to whom her mother owes money and he is desperate to gain control of Charlene. She knows her time is coming when she will no longer be able to put him off. For her, love is a lost possibility. No one will ever have that power over her.
Just as it all seems lost, Charlene receives a visit from her father's wife, Lady Desmond, who makes her an offer she can't refuse. Lady Dorothea has received an invitation to the duke's house party, but she is still out of the country and unable to attend. Since Charlene bears an uncanny resemblance to her half-sister, Lady Desmond is offering Charlene a fortune and a way to get out of her present situation. All she has to do is pose as her legitimate sister, Lady Dorothea, at the upcoming house party being held by the duke and win his hand in marriage. But she must be careful not to fall in love with him. After all, he is meant for Dorothea. But as the passion stirs between Charlene and James, will she be able to stick to the plan, or will she give in to her heart's desire? Will her deception end any chance she might have at a future with James?
HOW THE DUKE WAS WON, the first book in RWA Golden Heart award winning author Lenora Bell's DISGRACEFUL DUKES series, is a refreshingly clever, passionate historical romance that fans of Regency romance are sure to love. This story will grab your attention from the first page and won't let go until the very satisfying end. The characters are beautifully drawn and the chemistry between James and Charlene is off-the-charts. Although Charlene is pulling a con on James, her true character clearly shows through to the reader, especially since she is doing this for her family. I could not help rooting for her.
Put four young ladies in a room, all vying for the hand - and body - of a duke, then stand back and watch the fireworks begin. However, one of the four is not a true lady, at least not in society's estimation. Charlene has secrets and compelling reasons to win; a fortune and a new start for herself and a husband for her sister. But will she carry out the plans at the cost of her heart? Amid secrets and passion, will truth and true love win? The antics and rivalry of these women and their mamas will have readers laughing out loud.
This delightful debut is a wonderful start to a promising career and I cannot wait to read the next installment to her DISGRACEFUL DUKES series, IF I ONLY HAD A DUKE, due to release in late August 2016. Always on the lookout for new-to-me authors, I was overjoyed to discover Ms. Bell and am thrilled to add her name to my list of 'must read' authors. But don't take my word for how wonderful this book is, pick up a copy of your own and find out for yourself. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did!