Fresh from the Caribbean, Mark Easton, the new Duke of Roxburg, returns to London to secure a bride. It’s expected of his new station, after all. Unfortunately, he knows just what will meet him once his presence in Town is known. Sycophantic and cloying debutantes at every turn and matchmaking mamas behind every potted palm. If only there was a way to know the true nature of each girl beforehand. Then brilliance strikes! Masquerading as a lowly dancing master before the season begins should give him a very clear picture of London’s eligible ladies.
Bianca Valentine has never been under the illusion that any decent man would look past her family’s secrets. So a life of independence is her best shot for a happy future. If she can provide for herself, she won’t have to be a burden on her aunt and uncle any longer. After an advertisement for an accompanist at a dancing school catches her eye, Bianca finds herself enjoying more freedom than she’s known, but it’s the new dancing master that takes her breath away and inspires the most beautiful music she’s ever written.
Her music first enchanted him, but her smile and kindness captured his heart. A masquerading duke and an accompanist is scandalous enough, but will Bianca’s secrets be too much to overcome?
Publisher and Release Date: Night Shift Publishing March 2016
Time and Setting: London 1816
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4
Review by Lady Cicely
Born on the wrong side of the blanket, Bianca Valentine has accepted she will never find love or marry. Traveling to London on the pretext of attending the season with her sister, Bianca has plans to find employment. Luck is with her when she answers an advertisement for an accompanist at The Mirabelle School of Dance and is hired on the spot. Music has long been her one comfort in life which makes this the perfect job.
Barbados, sugar plantations, and beaches; those are the places Mark Easton, Duke of Roxburg, would rather be. Not freezing in London where he will be hounded by matchmaking mamas and their daughters once they learn of his arrival. This is why no-one but the friend who accompanied him and one other who currently resides in London know he is here. Mark never thought he would inherit nor does he want the title, and knowing he has no alternative but to accept both, he has instead determined to make his own decision as to who he will wed. With that in mind, he sets a plan in motion that will let him observe potential wives in a setting where they are not concentrating on being on their best behavior; and he takes a position as a dancing master under a false name at The Mirabelle School of Dance.
What Mark hasn’t counted on is the beautiful, talented accompanist hired for Lady Acker’s classes; the one hired to play at his dancing lessons. Nor can he explain the way her hauntingly beautiful music affects him. Bianca hasn’t counted on the way the new dancing master makes her feel when he is in the room, or on the way the music comes to her for her own compositions, compositions she hasn’t written since the day her younger brother died at Waterloo.
A subtle courtship ensues with Mark determining that Bianca is the one for him, but he worries his secret will work against him. A courtship so subtle that Bianca, with her determination that no one could love or accept her because of her background, is unaware that Mark is actually courting her.
Dancing lessons, a dinner party with friends of the ‘dancing master’ (who are members of the ton), ‘ghosts’ … all appear to bring these two together, providing excellent and funny interactions for the couple. However, events which conspire to reveal Mark’s true identity threaten to divide them forever.
Although part of the Muses series, Her Muse, His Grace can be read as a stand-alone. Jane Charles does a wonderful job explaining who the minor characters are in this story are and a little of their background without taking away from the main story. My only concern with the story is that Bianca forgives Mark too easily and Mark, as a duke, accepting Bianca’s background so readily. But then isn’t that what Happily Ever Afters are for?
I thoroughly enjoyed Her Muse, His Grace and I would definitely recommend it to fans of the author, new readers and historical romance fans in general.