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The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen

The Reluctant Duchess

by Sharon Cullen

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The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
My Review:

Two years ago, Lady Sara Emerson lost her beloved cousin as a result of a brutal and unsolved murder. Her cousin was bright and vivacious, always the life of the party, and recently engaged to the gorgeous Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne (aka Ross). In the blink of an eye, everything came to an end, Lady Sara retreated to the country and the Duke ran all the way to India in the service of the Queen.

In two years Lady Sara’s life has remained largely the same with her day in and day out revolving around the care of her father and avoiding anxiety-inducing social situations. Until recently, Sara has been resigned to her situation and for the most part, content. Her situation changed dramatically, however when the letters alluding to her cousin’s death began arriving. For the first time in two years, Lady Sara is going to leave the country. Her first and only stop will be the London home of the Duke of Rossmoyne.

The trip home from India wasn’t just unexpected, it was also unwelcome but when the Queen calls, her subjects, even Duke’s must answer. With only a few hours of sleep and no interest in socializing, Ross is pulled from his bed only to be confronted by the timid yet insistent, Lady Sara Emerson. Though Ross’s kneejerk reaction is boot the woman out of his home his gut tells him to hear her out. The letters Lady Sara has been receiving are disturbing, to say the least and in short order, Ross becomes quite concerned for Sara’s safety. Adding to his concern is his interest in Lady Sara and his frustration regarding her insistence at being involved in the investigation. Lady Sara is nothing like her brash and bold cousin and after two years, her quiet determination, keen intelligence, and unassuming beauty are exactly what Ross needs in his life. If he can keep her alive, maybe just maybe Ross can convince Lady Sara to become his duchess.

Lady Sara’s commitment to unravelling the mystery of her cousin’s death is solid and though she knows she should be afraid for her own safety, she trusts Ross implicitly. As the letters continue to arrive and the threat against Sara increases, so does her attachment to Ross. Ross is strong and confident, kind and intelligent, and sexy in a brooding kind of way. The only drawback to loving the Duke of Rossmoyne is his title; were Sara to allow herself to well and truly love Ross, she would have to become a Duchess and that would entail anxiety inducing social engagements. Sara’s will and determination is strong but she just can’t see herself becoming a burden to the man she loves.

The Bottom Line: The Reluctant Duchess is no easy road to an HEA but it certainly is an interesting road. From the moment she arrives in London, Lady Sara is determined to find out what happened to her cousin. Her path is clear, her focus is sharp but her feelings are a mess. Gabriel Ferguson (aka Ross) is a wholly unexpected creature and a greatly changed man from when Sara briefly knew him two years previously. Ross is a changed man and the new Ross wants Lady Sara Emerson with every fiber of his being. She is truly his match but keeping her alive and convincing her to marry him is as big challenge as figuring out who murdered his former fiancé. Cullen weaves a fine story of intrigue and romance with characters that are fully realized and most enjoyable. The threat is real, the mystery is believable, and Cullen doesn’t do that thoroughly detestable thing of so heavily hinting at the perpetrator that you know who it is by page four. In all, I breezed through this read and found Cullen’s brand of historical romance to be quite to my liking. ( )
  arthistorychick | Jan 3, 2016 |
Absorbing Victorian romance!

I knew this was going to be a five star read right from the opening pages. Mystery, murder and mayhem, my three favourite 'm's. Indeed I mostly smiled all the way through. Lady Sara Emerson has come to London to ask the help of her dead cousin’s fiancé, Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne. Her cousin Meredith had been fiendishly murdered two years ago and now someone was sending Sara scary letters that could be from the murderer.
Recently returned from a two year stint in India, Rossqmoyne agrees to help her on condition that she stay in his home with his mother as chaperone. Of course that also opens up its own set of problems.
Sara is totally different from Meredith--a fact Ross comes to appreciate the more he sees her.
With him she is refreshing and challenging. At social events she fades into the background. Puzzling behaviour indeed!
The pace is fast, one scenario tumbles after another gathering momentum. Sara's confrontation with Ross and her brave insistence on his help, the scenes with the child Thomas and their conversation, their visit to the rookeries, their midnight talks in the library. All set the atmosphere for what is an exciting and enjoyable read.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Nov 11, 2015 |
A great historical romance with an intriguing mystery that will keep you hooked to the pages. Lady Sara Emerson has received several upsetting unanimous letters, some even mentioning her cousin who was murdered. She decides to visit Gabriel Ferguson, the Duke of Rossmoyne, her cousins fiancé, who had offered his assistants if she or her family ever needed help of any kind. Upon reading the notes he immediately contacts a friend who was the lead investigator of the brutal, and yet to be solved crime. He then suggests that Sara would be safer it she lived with him.

This is quite a thrilling little romance. There's a lot of "who done it" suspense in the story, keeps you guessing. And the romance that blossoms between Sara and Gabriel is tender and sweet. But are Sara and Gabriel ready for a quiet life together?

Action, thrills and romance, a loverly combination. I highly recommend it. ( )
  JulieD2 | Oct 21, 2015 |
I received a free copy for an honest review. This was a wonderful story with intrigue, mystery, and self-discovery. Ross' fiancé is murdered and her cousin receives threatening emails which brings her into Ross' life. They work together to discover the murderer and along the way learn to accept themselves and fall in love. The ending was great as I honestly was surprised. I would recommend this book. ( )
  FReads | Oct 18, 2015 |
Lady Sara Emerson comes to the ex-fiance of her cousin Meredith when she begins receiving letters about Meredith's death that grow increasingly threatening. The Duke of Rossmoyne has spent the last couple of years in India both recovering from Meredith's death and growing up becoming a more thoughtful, serious person. He had said that if Sara's family had any problems, they could come to him. Sara is taking him at his word.

Ross had never paid attention to Sara while he was engaged to Meredith. Meredith was such a vibrant person that the quieter Sara faded into the background. Sara suffers from severe social anxiety but somehow feels comfortable with Ross and doesn't hesitate to stand up to him when he is being arrogant.

The two gradually fall in love but don't think they have any hope for a successful relationship due to Sara's fear that she won't be able to be a successful duchess. Of course, Ross's mother doesn't help Sara much when she insists that Sara attend social events and talks to Ross about Sara being unsuitable.

The romance heats up as the danger also escalates making this an exciting and engaging romance. Fans of historical romance will enjoy this one. ( )
  kmartin802 | Aug 28, 2015 |
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Seductive new historical romance ignites as a shy country girl and a hotheaded duke surrender to dangerous temptations. Lady Sara Emerson was jolted out of her dull provincial life by her cousin's murder. Now that the killer seems to be targeting her, Sara seeks help from the man who was once her cousin's fiance, Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne. With his towering frame and fiery personality, Ross cuts an intimidating figure. Living under his protection, however, has its own hazards--like the sudden urge Sara feels to take their relationship in new, exquisitely inappropriate directions. Dazzled by the social graces of his betrothed, Ross never noticed her shy, blushing cousin. Looking at Sara now, though, he's drawn to her lovely eyes and calm disposition. Funny how a year away from the hustle and bustle of the ton changes a man. But Ross has no intention of allowing a woman to interfere with his plan to return overseas. He will simply capture the murderer and set sail once again. The problem is, with her beguiling lips and heavenly touch, Sara makes him never want to leave home--or his bed--again.… (more)

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