Barbara’s rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Series: Designing Debutantes #1
Publication Date: 5/24/22
Period: Regency London – 1807
Number of Pages: 352
The author did an excellent job of setting up the backgrounds and characters for this new series. The series features three sisters, Eliza, Diana, and Verity, whose scandalous parents have caused them to be ostracized from society. Luckily one of the sisters, Eliza, was already married when the scandal hit, but the other two were just entering society and lost all chances at finding an appropriate marriage. Rather than letting their heads hang in shame, the ladies decided they’d blaze their own trail by starting an event planning business – Elegant Occasions. Each of the sisters had a unique talent to bring to the business, which made each event they planned very unique and special. Now, I have to admit I have my doubts about whether this would have been something three society ladies could start and make successful during the Regency period, but I’m willing to suspend my questioning nature and accept it as doable.
Geoffrey Brookhouse is a very successful civil engineer in New Market. He’s traveled the world designing and building bridges, canals, etc. He’s been running his grandfather’s Ironworks company, Stockdon and Son, for a number of years. He’s very intelligent, driven, plainspoken, and hardworking. What is a man like that supposed to do when he inherits a dukedom never expected and certainly doesn’t want? He’s going to launch his young sister into a ton who doesn’t want them and he’s going to see that she gets the future she deserves. Since he has no clue how to do any of that, he hires Elegant Occasions to assure Rosy’s success.
Lady Diana Harper has never seen or met anyone like the duke who has just come to hire her and her sisters. He curses in polite society; he is unfashionably dressed; he actually speaks of (GASP) money. Diana thinks they may have more trouble launching the duke than the sister because he is totally unrepentant about who he is. He is attractive though – and she can’t stop stealing glances at him.
There are a number of humorous moments along the way to their HEA – and Rosy adds delightful moments with her charm and beauty. However, I think it says a lot about the story when I was more interested in the scandalous parent’s background story than I was in the romance between the two lead characters. Geoffrey and Diana were more like cardboard cutouts than fully fleshed, relatable characters. I found both the characters and the romance to be on the dull side and I kept waiting for something interesting or exciting to happen. Even the chase to Gretna Green was ho-hum.
This is not a book I’d read a second time, but it set up the series so nicely that I’ll definitely try the next book in the series to see where it goes.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.