A trio of brand new and utterly irresistible Regency novellas.
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"The Notorious Duke" by Deborah Simmons is the first story in the collection. Pagan Penhurst is bored with life, that is until his friend Hazard Maitland wagered that he could find a woman who would not be won over by Pagan's charms. The intended target: Scholastica Hornsby, an educated young woman who was determined to remain independent. Scholastica seems immune to Pagan's flirtatious attention at first, but Pagan won't give up until he has won his wager!
"The Notorious Duke" got off to a slow start, and I was about to put the book down, but half-way through the story started to pick up more. My most favorite part of the story was the ending - of course, I won't give it away, but the last few lines of the story had me laughing out loud! Unfortunately, most of the story was entirely too predictable, and I could almost imagine exactly how the story ended after reading the first five or so pages (and guess what, I was right!). Still, the story was relatively short (around 100 pages) so it wasn't too bad.
"Cupid Goes to Gretna" by Deborah Hale was my favorite story of the three included in the book. Ivy Greenwood convinces Oliver Lyte to pretend to run away to Gretna Green, a notorious spot in Scotland where English lovers ran away to elope, so Ivy's brother and Oliver's aunt will come after them together and hopefully get back together (the aunt and brother had been a couple, but for reasons unknown to us, had split before Ivy wanted to run away to Gretna).
About halfway through the story, I realized that I had read Ivy's sister's story as a promotion elsewhere, so that helped a bit when they referenced Ivy's sister in the story. Ivy and Oliver were witty and entertaining, but the story was really too short for a good development of their characters since most of the story was taken up by their false elopement to Gretna Green. The story was also predictable to an extent. The thing that bothered me the most about this story is the ending - there is no finality in the ending. Perhaps the author intends to write another story as a conclusion, but I felt like I was left dangling after I finished reading the story. Still, the story was funny and more interesting than the other two, in my opinion.
The last story included in the book is "The Rake's Bride" by Nicola Cornick. Theodosia (Thea) Shaw was left in dire straits when her father died six months ago, leaving her in charge of the family with little money and no income. Desperate, Thea agrees to marry an old friend, Bertie, who promises to take care of her debts. Thea is unable to go through with the marriage of convenience, however, and ditches poor Bertie at the altar. Meanwhile, Bertie's cousin Jack, the Marquis of Merlin, traveled to the church to stop the wedding. When he runs into Thea, however, the sparks fly!
This story was entertaining, and the least predictable of the three stories in the book. I didn't care much for Thea or Jack, although their sparring was quite amusing at times. The ending was a bit strange, but by this time I was just relieved to be finishing the book.
None of the stories in this book are particularly awe-inspiring, but then again they are short stories and do not have as many pages to flesh out the characters as full-length novels do. None of the stories were excellent, but none of them were horrible, either. Altogether, the stories were mediocre, and I could think of much worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon than reading this book.
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