When You Wish Upon a Duke is the first book in Isabella Bradford's series about the three Wylder sisters. Charlotte is the oldest of the sisters and since the death of their father she has had to look after her heartbroken mother and her younger siblings. The family have been living in the country for years and Charlotte is a happy tomboy, much to her mother's distress. It comes as quite a shock to Charlotte when a solicitor arrives to organise the details of her wedding. It turns out her father had arranged a marriage between her and the Duke of Marchbourne but nobody had thought to tell her. Nervous about travelling to London and being forced into polite society Charlotte is equally worried about meeting her future husband for the first time. Luckily their attraction is instant but it doesn't take long before misunderstands start to force a wedge between them. Can they look past their differences and find a way to connect with each other?
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, Charlotte and March make a great couple and I loved the chemistry and banter between them. The circumstances of their first meeting had me laughing out loud and I quite often giggled as I read about Charlotte's latest escapade. Charlotte may be young and quite innocent but she has a backbone to her and she stands up for what she wants from her relationship with March. It takes her a while to figure out where things are going wrong between them but as soon as she does she takes steps to fix things.
March is a hero who has some major issues to work through, his family history and the behaviour of his father all cause him embarrassment and he is determined not to repeat his ancestors mistakes. He is crazy about Charlotte from the moment he sees her and even goes as far as bringing their marriage forward because he can't wait to make her his but after the wedding he is so focused on treating her like a lady that he stops thinking of her as a passionate woman. His heart is in the right place but thanks to the expectations placed on him by society he comes close to ruining his marriage before it's even properly begun.
When You Wish Upon a Duke is a great start to a series and I'm pleased that we don't have long to wait for the next two instalments. I'm looking forward to getting to know Charlotte's younger sisters Lizzie and Diana better and I have a feeling that Diana in particular is going to be quite a handful - her future husband is going to need to keep his wits about him! If you're looking for a fun, witty and light hearted historical romance then you can't go wrong with this series and I think it will appeal to fans of authors like Eloisa James and Julia Quinn.
I'd have given this a higher rating were it not for something daft which happens towards the end.
Charlotte Wylder and the Duke of Marchborne have been betrothed since they were children, although it comes as rather a shock to Charlotte, who knew nothing about it until she was eighteen. But she and March are both young, attractive and wealthy and are well disposed towards each other from their first meeting; it's clear that before long, this initial liking will blossom into more.
Charlotte has a very open and engaging manner - she's like a breath of fresh air to March, who inherited his dukedom at a young age, and has therefore spent most of his life surrounded by the trappings of his title and who has always striven to act as a duke should.
Unfortunately however, the well-meaning advice of Charlotte's aunt and March's cousin serves to cause discord between the pair. Aunt Sophronia is constantly cautioning Charlotte that she must moderate her behaviour to that becoming a duchess, and unfortunately, extends this advice to the bedroom, telling Charlotte that she must act like a duchess in bed and basically lie back and think of England. No thrashing about and wailing allowed, or her husband will think she's behaving like a common harlot.
March has a few skeletons in the cupboard which encourage him to believe that it is wrong to burden his beloved with bouts of energetic sex and as a result, he shags her stupid on their wedding night and then is promptly overcome with remorse for his crude and animalistic behaviour and leaves her (and the wet patch!) to sleep alone. Charlotte, having enjoyed herself immensely is left to wonder what she's done wrong.
So what looked like a promising relationship very quickly becomes stilted, with both of them trying to do what they think the other must want, but never actually discussing it - although Charlotte does try.
I like stories where the principal focus is on the relationship between the characters, so I enjoyed the book as March and Charlotte attempted to put things right between them.
But I knocked the half-star off for the ridiculous duel scene towards the end. There are plenty of scenes in HRs where the heroine rushes off to the field of honour in order to try to prevent her beloved from fighting a duel. But I don't think I've ever come across such a daft method of prevention as the one Charlotte comes up with. She is already pregnant enough that she needs her dresses let out, yet she clmbs a tree at the appointed spot with the intention of pelting her husband's opponent with (wait for it) apples in which she has put some broken glass. And as if that isn't stupid enough, she enlists the help of her strict and proper aunt! I can just about tolerate a stupid plot device, but the character transplant necessary for the aunt is taking it a bit too far.
On the whole, then, this is a charming, easy read - apart from the silly duel scene towards the end!
I didn't have great expectations when I purchased this book at the great price of 99 cents - just thought to give this author a try. What a pleasant surprise! Within the pages of this book I found a very sweet romantic story about a couple - March, a duke and Charlotte, daughter of an earl- who were promised to one another by their fathers from their childhood. I was entertained to the point of laughter on several occasions. Although there was a misunderstanding between the H/h that could have caused a major derailment in their relationship, the heroine was a very clever, heartwarming young woman who persisted until she could help her duke come to a place of peace with his past.
I loved it that once March's attentions were on Charlotte, he never looked at another woman and that he was mad for Charlotte almost from the first time he saw her. I loved the fact that his extremely starchy persona melted when he was around her. I loved her sweetness, vulnerability, innocence and her confidence to fight for what she wanted.
I followed up on Ms. Bradford's other books hoping to find one about Brecon, the Duke of Breconridge. He had much to offer in the role he played in this book. Hopefully, his story will be forthcoming.