Series: The Gilded Age Girls Club, #1
Release Date: October 23, 2018
4.5 stars, rounded up.
Brandon Fiennes, The Duke of Kingston needs to find a rich bride, he inherited a failing estate, two unmarried sisters and a mother with an expensive sense of style. He consults with his cousin Freddie and is told that if he wants a heiress, New York is the place to go hunting.
Adeline Black is a seamstress with dreams of opening her own shop and creating her own designs, her dreams do not include love, marriage or handsome dukes – until a chance meeting in a hotel lobby. She is attracted to the stranger, who must be the duke the papers have been writing about, but dukes don’t marry seamstresses and she tries to put the encounter out of her mind and concentrate on her goal – to convince the heiress Harriet Burnett to go with her dress designs, including her signature – pockets!
Kingston cannot believe his luck, he meets the woman of his dreams his first day in New York, she is lovely, poised, intelligent AND an heiress! He sends a note to the suite she entered, asking her to meet him in Central Park. She is going to refuse until she reads a description of her outfit in the paper – this could be her break! She agrees to meet him and the attraction between them is red hot. But he still thinks she is an heiress…
When he learns the truth, he confronts her, she never lied to him, he never asked. She tries to walk away, but he follows her and his attention causes her to lose her position at Madame Chalfont’s shop. He feels badly and offers to help her – she refuses and tells him, that he has no idea what it is like to be poor – he may think he is poor, but what he really is, is entitled.
Adeline spends the next week trying to find work and Kingston tries to find a bride – he narrows his choices down to two. Adeline gets an intriguing offer when she runs into Harriet at a speech in Union Square. Harriet and several friends have a club – Ladies of Liberty, they help women find work, they offer to fund her dream, but she must swear to keep their secret.
While out with Freddie, Kingston happens upon her shop – she refuses to see him – hilarity ensues! When she gives him the heads up about the two women he is considering for his duchess, he asks for her help. He invites her to the opera, she will wear one of her creations and get free advertising when the papers write about it. She agrees and at the opera, suggests a potential duchess, Miss Alice Van Allen.
Kingston can’t seem to forget about Adeline and wishes he could marry her, but he has responsibilities to his title, family and tenants – he can’t let them down, even at the cost of his own happiness. He begins to court Miss Van Allen and she is all he could ever hope for in a duchess, but his heart is not in the courtship – it is with a dressmaker who has no desire to marry and has no fortune.
Things start to take off for Adeline, her shop is a success and when she receives another letter from Kingston saying he has met Alice and yes she is perfect, but he thinks he should consider a few more ladies and asks her to attend a ball with him. She agrees. They attend and she tries not to feel hurt when he spends time with Alice and leaves her with his cousin Freddie. She doesn’t like Freddie, he is handsy and makes her uncomfortable, she is angry because she cannot completely rebuff him, his wife is a client and he has yet to pay his bills – she cannot afford to anger him and it makes her more determined to remain independent. Kingston makes assumptions about her and Freddie and is jealous. On the way home, he realizes that he will marry Alice, but a part of his heart with always be with Adeline.
They have no contact for weeks and then have a random meeting on a rooftop garden. He misses her and again wishes that there was a way they could be together. The arrival of his mother and sisters remind him that he must propose to Alice, but he continues to stall.
When they meet again at a masked ball, sparks fly and he makes a decision. When Adeline leaves the ball, he follows her, knowing everything will change. She takes him to the bowery, hoping to scare him away, but they end up sharing their pasts and spend the night together. When he asks how she got the money to start her shop, they fight and she leaves, hurt.
Kingston follows through with his new plan and the fall out threatens Adeline’s dreams. Can there be a HEA??
I loved this book, it was almost unputdownable – I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about him actively trying to find a bride who was not Adeline, but found that it didn’t bother me at all. I loved Adeline and her friends and thought Harriet and the Ladies of Liberty were wonderful. I loved watching Kingston begin to envision a different future for his duchy – to let go of the past and bravely embrace the changes happening in his world. He and Adeline together were magical, she was exactly the duchess he needed – he just had to be brave enough to take the risk and she in turn had to be brave enough to trust him with her heart and dreams. There were a couple of title errors and typos that I assume will be corrected by publication – but overall, this was an outstanding start to the series and I highly recommend this book and can’t wait for the next book in the series!!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an Uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher.*