TBR Challenge Review: I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe

I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe
Historical romance published by Avon Romance on August 27, 2013

Arabella Caulfield, one of three orphaned sisters, has clung to an ancient gypsy prophecy as the only way to save her family from endless heartbreak. Now she has twelve days to reach a remote French castle and fulfill her destiny: to marry a prince.

Along the way, Arabella meets Lucien Westfall, decorated naval captain and the new Duke of Lycombe. She thought he was a pirate. He thought she was a governess. Two wrongs have never made such a scandalously perfect right.

(And because I feel the blurb on Katharine’s page better describes the book…)

She thought he was a pirate. He thought she was a governess. Two wrongs have never made such a scandalously perfect right.

On the way to marry a prince in a castle a lady should never:

Bribe an infuriatingly arrogant and undeniably irresistible ship captain,
Let him kiss her senseless on a beach,
Battle assassins at his side, or
Exchange wedding vows with him, even under the direst circumstances.

But daring, determined Arabella Caulfield isn’t just any lady. And Luc Westfall is no ordinary shipmaster. He’s the new duke of Lycombe, and to defeat a plot that could destroy his family he must have an heir. Now he knows just the woman for the job . . . and he’s not above seduction to turn this would-be princess into a duchess.

Confession – this month I messed up πŸ™‚ I had the prompt in my calendar, and it says “Western: Contemporary or Historical” – but I only hovered over the date and saw “or historical” so … >.> I thought general historicals were on the table. Nevertheless it was a happy mistake, because I “rediscovered” historicals. I’ve been wanting to read a book by Katharine Ashe, and I Married the Duke was one more recently added to my calibre library. Kismet!

Arabella Caulfield is a fantastic heroine. She’s so practical and determined, very rational and realistic … and yet her whole driving force is something a gypsy woman told her when she was a child. It’s a great juxtaposition. Bella is written with such depth and just comes alive from the page. In a way, Bella provides for her family and is the most pragmatic. She knew what she wanted, and went for it, through schooling, her making money to support her family, and becoming a finishing governess. On the other hand, she’s determined to marry a prince. It’s just so out there, that I didn’t (couldn’t?) really think about it. Bella is so friendly I just loved her. The fact that she’s willing to throw Luc’s words back in his face, and take matters into her own hands is also great. It’s hard to explain, but Arabella is how you want every romance heroine to be – unique, her own person, smart, and human.

Lucien Westfall is quite the hero. (I love an understatement, don’t you?) He’s a pirate, a future duke, a former officer in the navy, a rogue, and an all around marshmallow. I loved him. He’s so capable, yet flawed, inept, but amazing. As you can see, Ms. Ashe does a great job developing her characters. Luc has a wicked sense of humor which is compounded by the company he keeps. I liked that Luc isn’t arrogant, despite the fact that everyone expects him to be the duke (and in fact begin addressing him as such). Luc is rather wicked, and actually starts out brusquely with Bella. So much in fact that for a little bit I questioned if he actually was the hero or not. It was a nice take, and really fit with the story. He of course also has a hero-complex, which fit.

There’s just so much about this story that’s woven into the plot I’m having a hard time not talking about it. (My own rules, I know!) I loved the fact that this book stands alone, and has its own “happily ever after.” However, it is clearly part of a series, and the overarching story is not yet finished (and should be at the conclusion of the trilogy, as there are three sisters, and it is driving me crazy.) The prologue is interesting, but I was pretty skeptical about it. It also leads to so many questions. I know Arabella has the goal of marrying a prince, and at the beginning of the book she’s on her way to meet one … but also as a career move – he’s hired her. It’s this mix of prudence and fantasy. Which I suppose any good romance is.

I have to admit, I looked at the cover, and the cover quote is from Lisa Kleypas. She wrote “Katharine Ashe writes with eloquence and power.” The eloquence I could figure, but the “power” really caught my attention. Having read this book, I see it. Ms. Ashe tells a compelling story, with excellent writing. The characters are so dynamic, with a great dialogue and banter. The pacing and flow is perfect. I’m just so annoyed it’s only the first book in the series because I hate waiting. I’m so impatient to see how the story ends, because there are so many questions. The girls’ origin, the ring, what prince, and there are still two books to go! If anyone has read it, I’d love to discuss with you in the comments what pairings you suspect, because I have an idea or two.

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Clearly, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romances, and in fact, anyone who enjoys romances in general. I’ve already told a friend to read it. If the gypsy aspect makes you skeptical – go with it. I think you’ll be really happy.

Grade: A-

You can buy a copy here or read an excerpt here.

20 thoughts on “TBR Challenge Review: I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe

  1. Mary Chen

    I talked to Katharine a bit and Ravenna’s book is next. πŸ™‚ Her book is someone who hasn’t appeared yet. Katharine also revealed the hero for Eleanor – whom we met when she was a young girl. (You know who that is~)

    Reply
    1. Limecello Post author

      >.> Is the gypsy a prince? (I wanted Ellie to be with the prince. But I knew there was a reason there was the bit where he was so into her and she ignored him. Gah!) … Wonder if Ravenna will marry the prince Bella thought she might… Hmmm and the cousin! I was thinking Ravenna with Luc’s cousin, and Ellie with the prince. πŸ˜› Ah well. Yet another new series then?

      Reply
      1. Mary Chen

        I so wanted Ellie to be with the prince too, and Katharine has told me Eleanor’s book is last. So YES!
        LOL I know right? hehehe

        I thought so too for a bit, but Luc’s cousin is going to be with Princess Jacqueline, and their novella is going to be released in December. πŸ™‚

        Reply
        1. Limecello Post author

          I wonder who Ravenna will be with. [The Prince?] Where/when id Katharine say this?
          And… yeah true, we all knew Luc’s cousin would be with Jacqueline after their flirting…

          Reply
          1. Mary Chen

            From Katharine’s post on Teatime Romance it seemed Ravenna’s hero would be disguised as a footman. lol He’s someone who hasn’t appeared in the first book. I guess the Prince is just going to be alone. (plus you know romance book heroes can’t have thick moustaches πŸ˜‰

            Reply
    1. Limecello Post author

      Me too, Ella! I was thinking this was a “B+” read – which for ALBTALBS is really good – but the more I thought about it the more I was like – everything I’m saying about this book is awesome! XD

      Reply
        1. Limecello Post author

          Ooo yes I wanted to read that but the person who rec’d it told me to start with The Wild Marquis which … is an entirely different series, is it not?
          Ah well.

          Reply
          1. ellaquinnauthor

            I don’t know why she told you to read that first. It’s a different series. You should read The Importance of Being Wicked, first. That is the first book in the series and the characters pop up again.

            Reply
  2. Pamela

    I loved this book–when I first started reading Katharine Ashe, I wasdn’t that impressed, but she just keeps getting better and better. She creates the perfect scene–the “Strip Piquet” scene in “When A Scot Loves A Lady” is perfect. Interestingly, this book is broken down into scenes–each chapter is titled by scene, like “The Bath” etc. A definite must read.

    Reply
    1. Limecello Post author

      Pamela, you know, I’ve noticed some authors really really improve, and I love that. I have What A Scot Loves a Lady but is it very… (how to say this without being stupid) – Scots-like? :X Those books annoy me. Other than Lost In Your Arms I don’t read anything Scottish/Highlander … Or Medieval. Just not my thing.

      Reply
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