They had a deal…
From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.
But deals are made to be broken…
By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?
Publisher and Release Date: Avon, April 2014
Time and Setting: Victorian England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by Lady Blue
Edie Jewell, an American heiress, was the victim of a brutal attack, which left her not only traumatized, but also on the verge of being ruined. In a desperate effort to find her a husband, her father takes her to England, where the scandal is not yet known. At a ball, Edie sees Stuart, Duke of Margrave. She knows several things about him – he is in desperate need of funds to support his failing estates and numerous relatives, and he is an explorer, whose only desire is to return to Africa. If Stuart were to marry her, her reputation would be saved, his estates would be saved, and he could go back to Africa, a win-win situation for everyone.
Margrave feels her stare, and when he looks at her, he is actually quite taken with her. Edie approaches him, and doesn’t mince words, suggesting marriage as a business solution for both of them. She offers to pay his debts, set his estates to rights and support him and his relatives, and in return, all he has to do is leave and never return. There will be no consummation of the marriage. She is also very straightforward about telling him that she is on the verge of social ruin. Margrave assumes that she suffered a broken heart, and Edie allows him to think that’s true. He accepts her proposal. After a brief courtship, they are married, he takes her to his estate, and shortly thereafter, he leaves for Africa.
Five years pass. Edie is content, she has managed the estates well, and she is in control of her own life. But in Africa, Stuart has been seriously injured. As he fades in and out of consciousness, he sees his servants digging his grave, and realizes he is about to die. His thoughts then turn to his life, and what is important. He thinks about Edie, and more than anything, he wants to go home, have a real marriage, children, and a life that has meaning. Fate gives him that chance.
Stuart’s return home causes Edie to panic. At first, she doesn’t think, she just runs. Finally, she realizes that she has to at least talk to Stuart to find out his intentions. Edie refuses to live with him, she even starts forming desperate plans of running away or obtaining a legal separation. Not knowing what really happened, and still believing that Edie suffered a broken heart, Stuart is determined to try to win her over. He offers her a challenge – give him ten days to entice her into kissing him, and if he can’t, he will agree to the separation. From a kiss, Stuart feels their relationship can gradually progress to a real affection and love. Edie knows there is absolutely no way she will ever kiss him of her own volition and agrees.
Stuart’s courtship is amazing. He is kind, attentive, sensitive, and, oh, so sexy. Edie finds herself enjoying his company, and even feeling attraction, though she doesn’t recognize it as such. Stuart’s reaction, once he realizes what really happened to Edie, shows him to be a true hero. His patience is almost unbelievable. I couldn’t wait for Edie to finally be able to let go of the past and hold on to this wonderful man. I highly recommend this emotional and romantic story.