"Mystery, Mischief and Marriage?"
Reviewed by Jessica Dunn
Posted July 4, 2012
Romance Historical | Romance
A DUCHESS TO REMEMBER takes us to 1816 England with Lady
Cecily Westruther, ward of The Duke of Montford who just so
happens to be the founder and unofficial head of the
Ministry of Marriage.
Cecily is young, beautiful and is
betrothed to the scholarly, milk toast Duke of Norland.
Cecily has caused much chaos in the past for the Duke of
Montford but lately she seems too sedate, she is not only
going along with this engagement but she desires it
something fierce. It's not that she desires The Duke of
Norland per say, just what her life will be like once she
The Duke and Cecily have agreed to live
separate lives and Cecily feels that with him having a son
from his first marriage she isn't even required to do her
duty in the bedroom Cecily longs to be independent and
alone so that she can use her money to help a charity close
to her heart. She believes her life will be quite content.
That is if no one finds out what she has been keeping
buried deep. Cecily has a secret that if it gets out will
ruin her life before she has a chance to live it.
Meanwhile, Rand the Duke of Ashburn has a few secrets of
his own that could ruin many lives if they get out. Up
until now Rand has been happy with his circumstance; his
mistresses, gentleman's clubs and The Promethean Club.
Unfortunately his only heir is a youthful nephew bent on
emptying his pockets. Rand begins considering marriage but
wants nothing to do with the Ministry of Marriage and their
practices of arranging cold yet advantageous matches for
nobles. Deep down Rand believes you should marry for love
but Rand feels he is incapable of love so maybe, just maybe
he should find himself a wife and do his duty by working on
an heir of his own.
So what happens when Rand captures Cecily breaking into
his home searching for secrets? Will their secrets be
discovered? Will the Ministry of Marriage stand by and just
watch? What happens next is an adventure, mystery and
romance to set both Cecily and Rand's staid plans on end.
DUCHESS TO REMEMBER captures the excitement and dishes it
out as the sweetest dessert. Christina Brooke's third
installment in her Ministry of Marriage Series surpasses
all expectations leaving you longing for her the
Lady Cecily Westruther is nothing if not practical. By
agreeing to marry an older duke who already has an heir and
a mistress, she can assume a wifely role—without the wifely
duties. Only one thing stands in her way—a letter that
could destroy her betrothal. Desperate to retrieve that
letter, Cecily must match wits with the most dangerously
seductive man she’s ever known…
Disguised as a footman, Cecily gains entry to her
adversary’s house—only to be unmasked by London’s most
powerful man. Rand, Duke of Ashburn, is accustomed to
getting any woman he wants—and he wants Cecily. He will stop
at nothing, including seduction, to make her his. But Rand
holds a secret more shocking and destructive than that
letter could ever be…
ExcerptThe door to the vestibule stood slightly ajar. Cecily darted
a glance around her, then stole up to the door to listen.
She couldn't hear anything. No murmur of voices or clink of
cutlery on plate. Cautiously, she peered into the room.
A large hand gripped her shoulder. Another hand covered her
mouth. With a muffled shriek, she struggled to free herself.
She was clamped against a hard male chest. A deep, cultured
voice murmured in her ear, "At last. I've been expecting you."
Cecily froze. Confound that blasted footman! He'd betrayed her.
It had all been too easy, hadn't it? But good God, how could
she have guessed he'd tell the duke of her plans? How many
servants would remain loyal to their masters when offered
the kind of bribe she'd intended to pay?
Or perhaps the footman hadn't informed on her, and the
rumors were true. Perhaps the Duke of Ashburn was
He was certainly exceedingly strong.
All this passed through her mind in an instant. She fought
him, twisting ineffectually in his iron grip, jabbing with
her elbows, kicking back with her heels. If she could get
free, she'd make a dash for it. She was fast when she needed
to be and tonight, garbed as a footman, she didn't have
skirts to hamper her.
His hold was not vicious but it was implacable. Seeming not
to notice her struggles, her captor swept her into a room
that was not a vestibule, as the footman had informed her,
but a library. With not a member of the Promethean Club in
Once inside, he released her. She whipped around to face
him, her lungs straining for air.
He was very dark and very tall and he had the most
uncompromising mouth she'd ever seen. His strange eyes
regarded her intently, sending an unwelcome chill through
her body. Then he moved to close the door and lock it.
When he turned back to face her again, she refused to show
him fear. Instead of quaking or begging, she folded her arms
across her chest and waited.
His grim lips relaxed slightly. Holding up the ornate brass
key, he said, "A precautionary measure," and slipped the key
into his pocket.
That almost imperceptible change in the forbidding coldness
of his expression made her less apprehensive of physical
harm. But the preternaturally acute way his eyes assessed
her was far from reassuring. She'd never been more conscious
of the close fit of her breeches, nor of the footman's
peruke wig that perched, askew now, on her head.
He was hard and lean and broad shouldered. Not an ounce of
frivolity or decoration softened the harshness of his
aspect. Dressed soberly in a black coat and gray trousers
and waistcoat, white shirt and cravat, he wore no jewelry
save a heavy gold signet ring on the third finger of his
right hand. His close-cropped black hair seemed to emphasize
the hawkish lines of his nose and the sharp, almost Slavic
contours of his cheekbones.
And his eyes. They were a stunning golden hazel with dark
brown flecks, framed by thick black lashes. Amber ringed
Unsettling, almost feline, those eyes. She wondered if they
glowed in the dark.
"Take off your wig," he drawled.
The instruction was not quite a command but it was not a
request either. More a suggestion with overtones of
Of course he knew she wasn't a footman or a page boy. The
disguise was never meant to fool anyone except at a distance
and in the dark of night. Besides, his manhandling had
brought him into contact with the softer parts of her
person. The notion sent a hot spear of . . .
something through her body.
Forcing herself to give a casual shrug, Cecily lifted the
peruke from her head and set it on a piecrust table nearby.
His brilliant gaze flicked over her.
She'd worn breeches enough times to feel neither shame nor
embarrassment that he'd caught her in them. But somehow his
impassive regard made her want to leap to the defensive, to
justify her actions to him.
As the Duke of Montford's ward, she'd long since mastered
control over such inclinations. Instead, she studied Ashburn
as dispassionately as he studied her.
He was far younger than she'd supposed when she'd seen him
at a distance. The harshness of his features, his arrogant
air of authority, and the deference more senior members of
the ton paid him had deceived her.
She resented that illusion, as if it had been a deliberate
ruse on his part. Older gentlemen were so much easier to handle.
The silence lengthened between them until it became an
object with her not to be the first to break it. She let her
attention wander around the room, over bookshelves and
tables, globes and maps. As if she'd appraised him, found
him tedious, and now sought some other source of amusement.
"Your accomplice betrayed you," he said at last.
"I'd rather gathered that at the start of our acquaintance."
She tried to make her tone cordial, but it came out with
something of a snap. Now that her initial fear had abated,
chagrin at her failure took its place.
Though perhaps she'd not failed entirely. She surveyed
Ashburn with a speculative eye. Might she discover what she
wished to know directly from him? If she was clever about
it, then perhaps . . .
Drawing herself up, she donned her most regal air and waved
a careless hand. "But I am keeping you from your guests,
Your Grace. Do go ahead. I shall find my own way out."
Rand nearly laughed aloud at this summary dismissal. Who the
Devil did the chit think she was? She couldn't be more than
nineteen or twenty, but she waved him away with the careless
aplomb of a dowager duchess.
"My guests go on most happily without me," he said, leaning
one shoulder against the door and folding his arms.
"Besides, you interest me far more than a meeting of the
"I'm so happy to provide you with entertainment," she said.
Better and better.
He allowed his gaze to drift over his captive's person,
lingering at the lush bosom that jutted unmistakably from
her blue velvet coat, pausing again at the womanly flare of
hips that made her knee-breeches stretch a shade too tightly
across her thighs. He imagined her bottom would be as round
and female as the rest of her and experienced a sharp tug of
curiosity on that account.
It really was a very poor disguise.
He regarded her face. Wide brown eyes with a slight tilt at
the corners, a pert little nose and the rosiest bud of a
mouth he'd ever seen. Her lips reminded him of the dimpled
lushness of a cherry when the stalk is plucked. Ripe and
plump and sweet, begging him to bite.
"What is your name?" he said.
She watched him without replying; it occurred to him that
she scrutinized him quite as critically as he examined her.
From her expression, he did not meet with her approval.
A novel experience. A not altogether comfortable one.
Breaking off her inspection, she wandered over to a set of
globes that stood by the desk. Tracing the arcing frame of
the celestial globe with a fingertip, she said, "If I tell
you who I am, will you let me go?"
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