cover image The Unexpected Duchess

The Unexpected Duchess

Valerie Bowman. St. Martin’s Paperbacks, $7.99 mass market (336p) ISBN 978-1-2

Bowman (the Secret Brides series) launches the Playful Brides series of theater-themed Regency romances with a charming take on Cyrano de Bergerac. Lady Lucy Upton and Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon, can’t quite conform to polite society’s expectations. Lucy’s clever tongue and unladylike bluntness has left her on the shelf, and her parents all but disowned her. Derek, a lowly soldier’s son, received a dukedom for his military actions against Napoleon. Derek promises his gravely wounded friend Julian that he will take care of Julian’s beloved, Lady Cassandra Monroe—which Derek takes to mean that he should marry her. When Lucy is caught feeding dialogue to the more demure Cassandra, Lucy and Derek embark on entertaining verbal skirmishes that lead to heated physical encounters. Some unnecessary repetition of their conflicts and a thoroughly unsurprising twist are only minor detractions. Regency fans can anticipate more racy antics in future installments, which will focus on Lucy’s beloved friends. [em]Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (May) [/em]