I’ve been a huge fan of Lenora Bell for a while now, she’s become an auto buy author for me in this historical romance genre. What a Difference a Duke Makes is the first book in her new School for Dukes series and starts off with a lively tale of an independent woman looking for work as a governess who happens to find herself in the employ of a Duke and in charge of his two young children.
Mari (rhymes with starry) Perkins is in London looking for any clues about who her parents might be, but in the mean time she is prepared to take work as a governess for a nice family. Not one too fine or too aristocratic, but a family in trade. She’s traveled to London with a job offered by one Mrs. Trilby who owns Mrs. Trilby’s Agency for Superior Governesses. Trouble arises and she ends up losing her position, but then she overhears that there might be a Duke in desperate need of a governess to two young, unruly children.
Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is rich and powerful, highly intelligent and extremely dedicated in his pursuit to bettering his steam-powered engines, but he can’t control his children or keep them from driving away every governess he hires. Then magically Miss Perkins appears on his doorstep and works wonders with his children, in fact she manages to charm everyone in his household. Mari is intriguing and fun and doesn’t take any of his nonsense for a minute. He’s determined not to repeat the sins of his father, but there is just something about Mari that breaks down all his walls and makes him want to get to know her better.
The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking that there would definitely be some historical romance lovers who would find this book too frivolous, too implausible and definitely not true to the time period. But it’s just so darn fun that you can’t help but keep reading. Mari is obstinate and doesn’t have a subservient bone in her body. She enters the Duke of Banksford’s residence under less than truthful circumstances and then pushes every one of his buttons, outlandishly questions him at every turn and never shies away from showing her desire for him. She’s bold and bright and entertaining from the moment she walks onto the page right up until the very end.
For every bold, bright heroine there must be a stuffy, stern, somewhat broken hero to fall in love with. Edgar certainly seems stern and stuffy and as his backstory unfolds readers find out why he appears this way. He’s not really that dark and broken as I expected him to be and falls for Mari pretty quickly. In fact he charmed me quite thoroughly as he became close to his children and tried to keep himself from taking advantage of his wonderful governess. He and Mari are fabulous together, their romance lively and fun and easy to find yourself lost in.
What a Difference a Duke Makes is a charming love story and introduces a fun new cast of characters. I’m excited to read the next book in the series which features Banksford’s sister, Lady India, and her sworn nemesis, the Duke of Ravenwood. I’m a sucker for the enemies to lovers trope and India and Ravenwood look like they might set my Kindle on fire with their passion. Final Grade-B-
She’d never had a season Never been a debutante dressed in white..
“I never attend balls,” she said. “They’re highly overrated. But I would attend one if you were there, dressed in this flimsy bit of sea foam. I’d take your dance card and I’d write my name on every line.”