cover image The Duke Who Loved Me

The Duke Who Loved Me

Jane Ashford. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $8.99 mass market (288p) ISBN 978-1-72821-725-3

Ashford (the Duke’s Sons series) launches her Duke’s Estates series with an effervescent Regency showing how long-term friendship can blossom into love. After James Cantrell inherits the title of Duke of Tereford, he’s distressed to discover that the ducal townhouse in London is almost uninhabitable, filled with clutter hoarded by the previous duke. Deciding he needs a wife “to set his house to rights,” he determines that Cecelia Vainsmede, a friend he’s relied on to clean up his messes since their meeting 13 years ago, is the right woman for the job. But self-respecting Cecelia turns down his less-than-romantic proposal, as she harbors genuine feelings for James that she believes he doesn’t return. Then Prince Karl von Osterberg arrives in London and Cecelia piques his interest, sparking a jealousy in James that leaves him determined to woo her. When the courtship between Prince Karl and Cecelia goes awry and the prince spreads nasty rumors that threaten her reputation, James swoops in to the rescue, proposing yet again, but this time hoping Cecilia will return his feelings. The slow-burning romance is enhanced by the witty dialogue and the strong personalities of both leads. This makes an excellent start to the series. [em]Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Aug.) [/em]