Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vicky Dreiling -- How To Marry A Duke

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.95}
Action: ♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠
Action: 2 / Emotion: 5 / Romance: 5 / Sensuous: 3 / Suspense: 4 / Regency Flavor: 5 // Humor: 13 / Tears: 9

Love. This. Book.

What an incredible debut for Vicky Dreiling!   How To Marry A Duke is the first book in The 'How To' Trilogy.

What an opening sentence.   A sentence that made one ask: what is she talking about?   Then Dreiling immediately explained what that opening gambit meant -- sparking an enthralling interest in Tristan James Gatewick, the Duke of Shelbourne.   Not only is one interested in how many times Tristan is going to have to play fetch with giggling chits who are trying to snare "the most eligible bachelor in England," but also can't help but continue reading with a laugh as Tristan tries to dodge the young misses at Lord and Lady Broughton's ball.

Tristan's ease with women (and his rakish nature) is highlighted as he casually visits with two of his ex-mistresses.   When he spots his best friend, Marc Darcett, the Earl of Hawkfield "Hawk" coming out of the card room and heads his way, he steps on (and breaks) another dropped fan.   Only this dropped fan didn't belong to a young chit.   This voluptuous beauty was just the kind of women Tristan would like to become his next mistress.   What a clever way to introduce Tristan to Tessa Mansfield.

Immediately drawn to the witty remarks made by Tessa, Tristan is amazed when she flees from him instead of flirting.   Hawk informs Tristan that he has just meet the reigning spinster matchmaker.   Tessa's tendency to champion the downtrodden is readily apparent as Tristan and Hawk watch Tessa trying to secure dances for the sidelined wallflowers.

Dreiling did an amazing job of delivering an incredible amount of information about the characters and their backgrounds in the first chapter of the book with great humor as well as dispensing a touch of suspense.   What dishonorable gentleman from Tessa's past makes her so wary of rakes like Tristan?   Why was Tristan determined not to involve his mother (or his emotions) in his search for a bride?

Although Tristan would rather ask Tessa to be his mistress than his matchmaker, he gives her his list of requirements for his future duchess.   Tessa takes the job as matchmaker to the charming, attractive duke because she believes that her career will become a smashing success if the ton sees her make a match for the infamous Duke of Shelbourne.   Tessa cannot believe she is attracted to her client, but is determined to suppress that feeling . . . because, after all, a handsome, charming duke could never be attracted to a fat spinster.

Strong-willed, headstrong Tessa ignored Tristan's orders, . . . determined to orchestrate a courtship that would teach the duke to love his duchess.   Tristan and Tessa spend an inordinate amount of time entertaining readers with witty banter and expressing opposing views about how to proceed with the, now, very public courtship of one duke and twenty-four debutantes.

Tessa displays her very real-life humanity by having favorites.   Miss Amy Hardwick is very shy and also the plainest women of the twenty-four.   As the courtship progresses Tessa repeatedly entreats Tristan not to eliminate Amy from the prospective bride list.   Conversely, Tessa constantly tries to cunningly reveal to Tristan that the beautiful Lady Elizabeth Rossdale is manipulative and hateful.   And then there is Tessa's soul-searing jealously of the beautiful, kind-natured Lady Georgette Danforth, who befriends not only Amy, but also Tristan's sister, Julianne.

Dreiling does an amazing job of keeping Tristan and Tessa in constant sexual awareness of the other.   Even though each is determined to be an honorable personage throughout the courtship, the fact that Tristan has a naturally seductive behavior, draws not only Tessa into his web of longing, but the reader is right there with them.   The one time Tristan gives in and kisses Tessa, the heat is almost blistering.   Although the nature of the plot does not allow Tristan and Tessa to actually consummate their love during the courtship process, the one time they come pretty close is full of spice, heat and makes one wonder how they could "not" finish.

There were many well-developed supporting characters that snagged the readers attention and added a great deal of depth to the story.   Hawk was constantly in the picture counseling Tristan, teasing the bridal candidates, and revealing he was very much used to being around Tristan and his family.   Thankfully, Hawk will be starring in his own book, How To Seduce A Scoundrel, with Tristan's sister, Julianne.   Julianne is featured as a beautiful, carefree, typical young woman who markedly pines for her brother's best friend.   She also befriends two of the bridal candidates, Amy and Georgette.

Ignoring Tristan's express orders not to involve his mother, Tessa solicits the Duchess of Shelbourne's aid in the courtship.   The reason for Tristan's emotional barriers become obvious to Tessa as she watches Tristan try to contain his anger at his mother for constantly trying to shine a positive light on her marriage to his father, a drunken, philandering wastrel.   Loved the clever way that Dreiling revealed that the Duchess was not unaware of what was going on with her son.   The Duchess intuitively understood and shrewdly promoted the strong attraction between her son and the matchmaker.

If all this interaction between Tristan, Tessa, the duchess, Hawk, Julianne, and bridal candidates wasn't enough to engage interest, then introducing Tessa's best friend and past companion Anne (now Lady Broughton) and her brother Richard Mortland into the mix certainly does.   An astute reader will quickly discern that something untoward happened between Tessa and Richard.   Anne's new husband, Geoffrey, Lord Broughton is helping a distraught Anne find out what happened to her brother because he has been missing for two years (since the battle of Toulouse).

Tristan's reaction to meeting the newly-arrived Richard supports the theory that chivalry is not dead.   Tristan immediately sees what a conniving, devious-natured fortune hunter Richard is and goes to great lengths to find out Richard's history so he can protect Tessa.   Even though Tristan repeatedly tells Hawk he is doing all this for Tessa because they are friends, it is blatantly obvious that Tristan is falling for the matchmaker.

If there was a moral to this story, it would be "Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones, but Words Carry a Stronger Impact."   When Tristan looks at Tessa, he sees a beautiful, desirous woman.   But because of words Richard spoke to Tessa eight years ago, all she can see is a fat spinster whose only value to a man is her fortune.

Great one-liner that is repeated throughout the story is Tristan's brief synopsis to his list of what he wants in his bride:

"an angel in the ballroom and a temptress in my bed"
How To Marry A Duke quickly and easily made it's way onto my "To Be Re-Read" list.   It has the requisite requirements for an exciting, emotional read.   {1} A handsome, can't-help-but-be-charming, honorable alpha hero.   {2} A realistic, multi-faceted, stubborn, headstrong, "I'll make my own decisions" heroine.   {3} Gulps of laughter to be found in the amazing dialogue between all the characters.   {4} Tears resulting from the emotional angst the heroine suffers as a result of a flawed past.   {5} Wonderful, enjoyable, well-written supporting characters.   {6} Two avenues of drawn out suspense; namely {a} how will the hero and heroine ever overcome the obstacles that block their path to a happily-ever-after; and {b} how is Tessa going to outwit the wily gold-digging Richard.   {7} Vast amounts of sexual awareness followed by a bold, vivid, heated love scene.   {8} And if that isn't enough, Tristan's proposal has to be the most romantic proposal that has even been written.   Tristan proved that he "knew" his Tessa.

Caveat: the reason did not rate How To Marry A Duke a full five-star rating.   Yes, it had to be difficult to introduce so many debutantes to the reader and keep them all straight; nevertheless, when Georgette was first introduced, Tessa was upset because she was blatantly flirting with the duke.   Because of this atypical (as compared to Georgette's actions throughout the rest of the book), it took several times to thumb back through the pages to separate the personalities of two of the starring debutantes -- Georgette and Elizabeth.

On a final note:   Recently read another debut regency book (Sinful Surrender by Beverley Kendall).   In my review of that book mentioned two things that Sinful Surrender failed to do, but could not give a specific example.   Can now cite How To Marry A Duke as an example of how Dreiling pulled off what Kendall failed to do.   First, Dreiling generated a true-blue, "I feel like I'm in 1816 London" by the way her characters acted and spoke (with a couple of exceptions).   Second, Dreiling didn't need to tell readers that Tristan and Hawk were best friends . . . it was obvious by their actions: {1} they hung around together, {2} they picked on each other, {3} they cursed at each other, {4} they guarded each others' backs.   The feeling of male camaraderie and friendship come across throughout the story.
--Vonda M. Reid   (Monday; April 4, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.)

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Books In The Series: "The 'How To' Trilogy"
  #     Date                 Book Title                                              Hero                                              Heroine                
01.01-2011How To Marry A DukeTristan James Gatewick, Duke of ShelbourneTessa Mansfield
02.07-2011How To Seduce A ScoundrelMarc Darcett, Earl of HawkfieldJulianne Gatewick
03.xx-2012How To Ravish A RakeWilliam DarcettAmy [Hardwick]

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  Site               Author                                      Title                                                          Series                                
01.ffLong, Julie AnnWhat I Did For A Duke05. The Pennyroyal Green Series {6...
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How To Marry A Duke Quotations:

84     "Men are not good at guessing what is in a woman's thoughts.   We don't think alike at all."

85     . . .   It's wrong to marry someone in hopes of changing the other person.   People are who they are.   The woman I choose to marry needs to accept me as I am. . . .

253     . . . he had been tempted, but there was a world of difference between wanting and acting.   . . .

327     . . . Uncle George said things happen for a reason, and she must trust in that higher purpose . . .

328     . . .   Somehow he'd become her whole world, and now she must find a way to survive the horrible pain of losing him forever.   . . .

329     . . . Uncle George's advice.   Do not feel compelled to fill the silence.

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Vicky Dreiling

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♣   Fantastic Fiction
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How To Marry A Duke Reviews:
     Rated              Posted                              Site                                                  Notes, Comments, Etc.                        
C / warm02-19-2011All About Romance 
4.26 average{35 reviews}Amazonas of: April 19, 2011
4.001-18-2011As The Pages Turnalso posted on Good Reads
3.001-13-2011Beck's Books Picsalso posted on Good Reads
4.001-27-2011Book Addict Pattialso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
4.2512-31-2010Book Binge 
4.001-11-2011Book Hounds (Books, Gardens, Dogs)also posted on Good Reads
4.001-13-2011Book Obsessedalso posted on Good Reads
3.501-03-2011Bookaholics Romance Book Clubalso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
D01-05-2011Dear Authoralso rated on Good Reads
4.001-30-2011Demon Lovers Books and Morealso rated on Good Reads
5.001-16-2011DK's Book Reviewsalso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
4.001-03-2011Fiction Vixenalso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
{2 reviews}12-21-2010Fresh Fictiondidn't rate / positive inflection
3.92 average{71 reviews}Good Readsas of: April 19, 2011
4.0--Huntress Reviews 
5.001-21-2011In The Hammock 
3.5 / B02-13-2011Jandy's Reading Room 
no review01-24-2011Martha's BookshelfBlog Talk Radio Interview
no review01-13-2011Mason Canyon / Thoughts In ProgressGuest Blogger: Vicky Dreiling
5.001-11-2011My Book Addiction and Morealso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
4.012-28-2010Night Owl Romance 
----Publisher's Weekly{line straddler}
----Rakehelldidn't rate / negative inflection
5.001-10-2011Readaholicalso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
4.002-14-2011Reader Viewsalso posted on Amazon
4.001-08-2011Readers Favoritealso posted on Amazon
4.504-02-2011Romance Junkies 
4.0 / hot11-11-2010RT (Romantic Times) Book Review 
3.88 average{8 reviews}Shelfarias of: April 19, 2011
dnf01-10-2011Smexy Booksalso posted on Good Reads
5.001-10-2011Starting Freshalso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
4.012-07-2010The Bibliophilic Book Blogalso posted on Good Reads
4.001-20-2011The Fiction Enthusiastalso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
4.5 / 3.001-01-2011The Hope Chest Reviewsalso posted on Good Reads
4.0--The Romance Readers Connection 
5.001-03-2011The Romance Revieweralso posted on Amazon, Good Reads
no review01-17-2011Urban Girl ReaderInterview
4.9504-20-2011Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari

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♥  Disclaimer:  Won this book at "Martha's Bookshelves"
     (Hatchette Book Giveaway)
♥  Very Subjective Rating
♥  Willing to share Cheat Sheet
    ♦  in whole or in part
    ♦  WordPerfect or PDF
♣  Will add your How To Marry A Duke review link to table, just ask


  1. I found your blog via your Amazon review and wanted to read more. I hope you don't mind that I'm responding, but I just had to thank you for the wonderful, in-depth review. As a debut author, it means a great deal to me. Cheers!

  2. I wanted to visit your blog after you subscribed to mine :)
    Historical romances have been my favorite for over 40 years...I began with the one and only Georgette Heyer. These days of course, the stories are much steamier...but the storyline remains the same.
    I agree with Ms. Dreiling...your reviews are so indepth...much appreciated by your readers, I'm sure. I'll be subscribing to your posts.
    By the way, good luck in my giveaway of Show Me How!