A Duchess in Name (Grantham Girls #1) by Amanda Weaver

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After graduating from British finishing school, an American heiress fulfills her duty and weds a destitute earl. A lie brought them together, but will it also tear them apart? Find out in this can’t-miss Victorian marriage-of-convenience story from a compelling new voice in historical romance.

Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement.

Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know.

Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.

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Publisher and Release Date: Carina Press, 18 January 2016

RHR Classifications:
Place and time: London, 1895
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jill

“Her sole purpose on earth was to unite her large fortune to a title, the grander the better.”

Victoria Carson, daughter of an American manufacturing magnate has been schooled all her life for one thing: to marry an English title, and the higher the rank the better. When she is nineteen, an agreement is made between Victoria’s father and the current Duke of Waring for their children to wed.

At twenty-seven, Andrew Hargrave, Earl of Dunnley, and heir to the Duke of Waring, is of a marriageable age. When his older brother died, his accession to the position of heir landed with an unwelcome thud on his broad shoulders. Having never been tutored for the role, his real interests lie in archaeology. When he receives word at his dig in Italy to return home, he is greeted with the news that his family is destitute, his father having lost their wealth. It is now expected of Andrew to marry well to revive the family fortune and wealth.

Resentful but duty-bound, Andrew agrees to the marriage-of-convenience, if only for the sake of his sisters. After meeting the lovely and gracious Victoria, both she and Andrew hope that theirs could at least be a civil and perhaps happy union, if not a love match. But the hopefulness doesn’t last long, when Andrew becomes convinced that Victoria is as conniving and as ambitious to gain a title as are her parents. Feeling trapped and manipulated, any trust or hope for a successful union is quashed.

Rarely does a heroine overshadow the hero in a romance for me. But Victoria is a complete delight. After being abandoned straight after her wedding night and left with the servants on her husband’s derelict estate, Victoria proceeds to roll up her sleeves and get on with the restoration of his ancestral home and lands. Realising she’s not up to the task alone, she goes ahead and hires the proper help. She writes beautiful, engaging letters to Andrew overseas, detailing the work and her life. Which he doesn’t bother to answer.

Now, given that Andrew is misinformed about Victoria, and given that he felt cornered into an arranged marriage, as well as the dysfunction he saw in his own parents’ marriage and therefore hoped to avoid, it’s certainly possible to have some sympathy for him. But he simply assumes, without ever truly finding out for himself, that what he’s been told of Victoria is indeed true and returns to Italy and to his mistress. For those who dislike adultery in their romances, this may be another strike against our hero. Finally, when he does come to his senses and tries to do the right thing by Victoria, it’s almost too little, too late for her. She really is wary and I can’t blame her.

However, putting aside my issues with the hero, A Duchess in Name is a well-written and very enjoyable historical. Ms Weaver has written a lovely romance with a particularly wonderful heroine. This is the first in The Grantham Girls series, and I look forward to reading about Victoria’s friends, Amelia and Grace.

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