“Duchess by Deception” by Marie Force

★★★☆☆

Yes, another historical romance! The blurb looked really interesting (gotta love unconventional first meetings) so… why not? I was looking forward to some uniqueness.

And the book ended up being quite good, I cannot stop mentioning that I love when there’s good grammar, syntax and just good storyline in general. You would think because a book gets published those should be the minimum… but I’ve see cringe-worthy published books before that lacked all those essentials, so now I’m always grateful when I see a well-put book.

The story starts with Derek (the male MC) desperately trying to find a wife. Now, being a Duke, and handsome to boot, he certainly has a vast variety of eligible debutantes from which to pick and choose, but there’s a slight problem: he’s not happy with just choosing a random bride to then do his noble duty and make her pop out a couple of heirs. Nope, he actually wants someone he can stand – you know, someone he wants to have deep, meaningful conversations with. We’re not talking about full-on besotted love, but at least some semblance of care and interest between each other.

“I’ve talked to every one of them and haven’t found one who interests me enough to pursue anything further.”

“Same as last year,” Enderly said.

“And the year before, and the year before that,” Derek said, the despair creeping in once again.

Oh, did I forget to mention he needs to marry in less than a week? Yep, an old law put by his ancestors states that every Duke of his lineage needs to marry before 30, or the title and all the holdings are taken away.

Gotta love outdated requirements 🙂

Derek is just done with it all: the balls, the strict society, the superficial rules… he decides to cut his Season off and return to his country house early, absolutely not caring anymore if he loses his title. Feeling a bit depressed, my lord? 🧐

As luck has it (or, rather, as luck in fiction books has it) a total unexpected encounter on his way to his estate quite literally changes the course of his life. Derek sees, what he believes at first, a man digging in the ducal grounds. He approaches to investigate, intrigued on why that person was digging so earnestly.

Well, obviously it turned out to be a woman 😂

Catherine (our female MC) had run away from home to escape an arranged marriage to a complete SOB of a viscount. Apparently, her grandmother had been the mistress of Derek’s grandfather (kind of cringy, but ok, I’ll flow with it) and she had… quite some shiny and expensive trinkets hidden in a chest that she left ownership to Catherine for whenever she may need the additional money. The key, however, had been hidden, buried in the grounds. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was why Catherine was digging in the dirt as much as a mole trying to find worms.

As well as that, Catherine seems to hate (if not loathe) all aristocrats from a bad experience of hers. Ok Catherine, generalising much?

Derek senses it (ok, more like is hit repeatedly by it every-time Catherine runs her tongue on how bad all nobles are) so he decides to tell her that he’s not the duke, but rather Jack, the estate manager.

Catherine buys it, and here comes forth a drama play of Derek acting like a commoner and Catherine falling in love with aforementioned ‘commoner’. They have a hasty elopement to Gretna Green, and lo and behold, they see themselves married!

My first problem with the book (apart from Catherine’s complete and ignorant disdain of a whole social class) is how fast their relationship progresses. By the second day, they’re completely into each other, and if my memory doesn’t fail me, they marry scarcely four days later… a bit fast and sudden, I must say.

Also, we get the POV of Derek’s cousin, Simon, in the book too. I personally don’t like having multiple POVs (except the main characters’), because I just want to read and focus on one couple at a time in a book, so that reduced the enjoyment a bit.

Additionally, when Catherine finds the truth about Derek… well, this is completely subjective, but her anger and moping about him lying to her… I just found it so overdone. Derek gives, for me, a very good explanation and logic on why he played the part, but she just seems not to care, preferring to be all hurt instead. I understand being angry, I would have been too, but she drags that anger for too much… like, geez lady, he only lied about his name and that he’s not a duke. Can you even blame him? Your disgust towards people with titles probably scared his confession off too 🤦🏻‍♀️

As Catherine washed and dressed, she thought of the wall she’d built around her heart and was filled with foolish hope. Who was this man to whom she was married? Was he really so different from the boorish aristocrats she’d had the misfortune to know in the past?

Yep, just found her a bit overdramatic… even from the quote above, was she really comparing Derek to the viscount that attempted to rape her? I would be mortally offended!

I found Derek to be a great male MC, he really cared deeply for Catherine and acted like a devoted puppy towards her, bringing her breakfast in bed, giving her books and full reign of managing his library, helping her dig in the dirt to find that blasted key, promising to take her to Egypt and Rome and the Americas…. Basically her every word was gold for him.

Where can I find you Derek, she doesn’t deserve you 😭

Anyhow! The book was not bad in general, and it was a nice read (to be honest I kept reading just for Derek 😂). See you all for my next post! 👋🏻

***I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book which was kindly provided through NetGalley by this book’s publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.***

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