Today I shipped out page proofs for the forthcoming Seducing the Duchess by Ashley March, and I was surprised that this was a debut romance novel. Curiously, it's part of the Bridal Pleasures series, even though the story doesn't include a wedding and the leading characters have been married for 3 years. Regardless, the story is better than most I've read recently.
Meet Charlotte, a brunette beauty who was tricked into marrying Philip, the handsome and rich Duke of Rutherford. When she learned his his motive for wedlock was revenge on her family, Charlotte fled to London to cultivate many wealthy and titled admirers. She shows a penchant for cursing, carousing, and reputation-ruining behavior.
Philip has let Charlotte carry on as the seductress for 3 years, but now he is determined return his wife to his side, even if it means abduction, imprisonment (at his lavish estate), and manipulation. Except, Charlotte has some ideas of her own, and they don't include the dastardly duke.
Author March gets a lot of things right with this book. Her characters, Philip and Charlotte, are flawed but not overly frustrating. Her narrative has an easy rhythm; her dialogue contains humor. But perhaps most impressive is the sexual tension March creates and the emotional buy-in she manages to forge with readers. Overall, this debut ranks with the best novels by Barbara Samuel and Cheryl Sawyer. It'll be interesting to see what comes next from this writer.
If you like romance, preorder Seducing the Duchess. It's just that good.