The Wicked Ways of a Duke by Laura Lee Guhrke

The Wicked Ways of a DukeFrom the author's website"Once upon a time, there was a seamstress named Prudence who lived in a lodging house, worked very hard, and dreamed of a better life. Then she inherited a fortune, met a handsome duke, and fell in love. Her life was wonderful, and it seemed as if she was destined to live happily ever after.

Then she found out money can’t buy happiness, handsome dukes can also be wicked, lying scoundrels, and a broken heart hurts like hell. Will Prudence ever find true love and happiness? Will the wicked duke mend his ways? Will she take him back or kick him to the curb?"

Before I come to any review, I have to say that this book title made me roll my eyes so hard that I saw the back of my skull.  Perhaps all that Ms. Guhrke requires, however, is that it is memorable.  The worst part was that the novel is so much better than the title implies.  The annoyance is similar to when I read a Harlequin romance titled something like "Marriage of Convenience to the Greek Billionaire" and that damnable novel is decent.  I like judging books by their titles/covers!

This novel of a seamstress become heiress and the money desperate duke that decides to woo her is set in late 1890s London.  It's different from the get-go with a heroine who works for a living in a realistic job and who thinks realistically about working and inheriting money.  I did find the reason for her inheritance fairly contrived, but I will tell you the truth -- I expect contrivance in my romance novels.  It's when I don't get it that I'm impressed, rather than upset when I do get it.  Prudence starts off strong in my regards, but quickly comes low.  She lets her overly-stupid relatives walk all over her and she does things which I found incredibly dumb.  She seems to care very little for the fortune she inherits even though she's seen what life is like without money.  She's not a TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine, but she's not overly intellectual.

The hero, a duke in need of a fortune, is a standard in fiction, but is especially well done in this novel.  Here is where I feel the novel excels.  Rhys knows what he needs to do, and he goes to do it.  He finds it convenient that Prudence is attractive to him from their first meeting, but he doesn't dwell on her when he thinks she cannot give him what he needs: either a quick lay, or a fortune.  He's self-serving, funny, smarmy, and pitiable.  I liked him more than I liked Prudence, and I more quickly bought into his storyline.

The Wicked Ways of a Duke moved very quickly, progressing from meeting to engagement by half-way through the book.  Since that occurred, it was easy to predict the novel's course, but it was still a compelling read.  I disliked Prudence's relatives as plot devices, especially considering that there was no need for them with regards to the romance, but what I mostly disliked about them is how her reaction to them changed my perception of Prudence.  Similarly, I felt like Prudence's friends were never properly dealt with, and I would not have minded more time with them because I think that would have improved my perception of Prudence.

Mostly this novel is worth a read, from my end, due to Rhys.  He's entertaining, and I feel like that is something I can scarcely say about a romance novel hero.

Verdict: 6. I'm glad I got this out from the library.

: I was shocked by the setting (really late Victorian England) and I half wondered throughout the book if society was as described by this novel. I know nearly nothing about late Victorian England, but I found the change from the Regency era or early Victorian era to be delightful. Not so great cover on the paperback version I was reading, by the way.

It is worth noting that this is one of the few romance novels I've read recently where I like the hero more than the heroine.

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