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Anything But a Duke

by Christy Carlyle

Series: The Duke's Den (2)

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225766,674 (3.71)None
Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he's ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke's Den, he has all the money he could possibly need but the one thing he can't purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can't buy his way into society's hallowed halls, he'll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage. Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan's marriage to the perfect lady--as long as that lady isn't her. She doesn't need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety. As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can't ignore. In the Duke's Den, can happiness ever be a winning prospect?… (more)

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Showing 5 of 5
I received an eARC at no cost from the author, in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. Thank you.

Review originally posted at Romancing Romances

3.75*


I love books with self-made heroes/heroines. And this book has both!

It was interesting to see how Diana worked hard to not lose focus, and to present her work in the best way.

I really like the kind of story that is about “deals” to find a husband/wife for the opposite character. And this is that kind of book.

It’s always amusing to see them trying to find someone for each other, but thinking/acting like they could never be the one for each other. And when they realize they are a match, and that any obstacles that might come their way can be dealt with, as long as they are together, then the story unfolds and we have our happy ending.

Aidan tries to help Diana with her inventions, and she tries to help him get the right bride. Of course, his definition of “the right bride” changes throughout the book, as he finds himself more and more in love with the woman that rescued him – literally.

This was the first book I’ve read written by this author, and it was a pleasant surprise. I shall be reading more for sure. ( )
  Joana_v_v | Apr 6, 2020 |
I received an eARC at no cost from the author, in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. Thank you.

3.75*

I love books with self-made heroes/heroines. And this book has both!

It was interesting to see how Diana worked hard to not lose focus, and to present her work in the best way.

I really like the kind of story that is about “deals” to find a husband/wife for the opposite character. And this is that kind of book.

It’s always amusing to see them trying to find someone for each other, but thinking/acting like they could never be the one for each other. And when they realize they are a match, and that any obstacles that might come their way can be dealt with, as long as they are together, then the story unfolds and we have our happy ending.

Aidan tries to help Diana with her inventions, and she tries to help him get the right bride. Of course, his definition of “the right bride” changes throughout the book, as he finds himself more and more in love with the woman that rescued him – literally.

This was the first book I’ve read written by this author, and it was a pleasant surprise. I shall be reading more for sure. ( )
  Joana_v_v | Apr 30, 2019 |
2.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Second in the Duke's Den series that follows three friends who invest together, Anything But a Duke follows the one without a title, Aidan Iverson. He's been able to rise from a childhood where the mother he can't remember left him and his sister and amassed great wealth. What he can't seem to overcome is the snobbery of the ton and certain doors remain closed to him. He decides that marrying an aristocrats daughter is his gateway to all these doors.

Diana doesn't want to get married and is trying to keep her family afloat by creating an invention that members of the Duke's Den will want to invest in. Her and her mother come to an agreement that if by the end of the month, if her invention doesn't become profitable, she will have to marry. When a chance encounter has her rescuing and kissing a mystery man, who turns out to be one of the investors she's supposed to impress, her world gets shaken.

Diana Ashby drew him. She always had. Her confidence. Her fearlessness. From the moment they’d met.

Aidan's plan to marry an aristocratic, while mercenary, did work as a ploy to achieve what he wanted. For having two friends of that world, a duke and and a marquess, I thought the story thread oddly underutilized them. It is set-up so that Diana, who is not nobility but has friends of that world, gets into a deal with him to try and set him up, while his side of the bargain is to get more investors for her. It worked but was also all a little coerced. There's a second thread underlying the romance one with Aidan searching for information about his birth mother and the sister he hopes escaped an orphanage fire. I thought this was rife for some great emotion but it was pushed to the side too much for me. Even when Aidan gets the answers he was searching for, the reveal fell a bit flat as character relationships in this thread weren't explored and Diana wasn't a huge part of this thread for Aidan to share with her. I did believe in why he fell in love with Diana but again, the emotional moments where he is choosing her over his ambition, fell a bit flat.

Every moment that they shared, every detail they revealed, made her want more.

I also would have liked a bit more of Diana's family relationships explored, especially with her mother or maybe a flashback or two with her father. Her father seemed to be like an absent minded professor, except with inventing. Part of her wanting to succeed was to show her father's pursuits weren't all a waste of time. We get a pretty good feel for her relationship with her twin brother, a seemingly wastrel but sticks up for Diana but her relationship with her mother was fairly blank. We know, because of their money issues, her mother is pressuring her to get married but the mother doesn't really appear on the pages and I missed feeling that aspect of Diana's life. While I believed in why Aidan feel in love with Diana, I didn't believe in it as strongly from Diana's side. He treats her well, the biggest being he embraces her inventor side, and she finds him attractive but I just didn't get see or get a handle on Diana developing feelings for him.

“I remember our deal, Diana.” He slid his hand from hers slowly and there was such disappointment in his gaze that her breath tangled in her throat. Moving past her, he strode toward the room across the hall, but midway he stopped and glanced at her over his shoulder. “Perhaps I’m just not content with the terms anymore.”

As I mentioned, Diana and Aidan's deal, he introduces her to investors to push her vacuum prototype and she introduces him to ladies of the nobility to find a wife and if she doesn't succeed in finding him a wife she must marry him at the end of the month, was a pretty coerced story plot. At the end, there is some angst where I didn't understand at all Diana's reluctance or refusals, that made it feel even more forced. Everyone is likeable and the story is nice but not a lot new here and all pretty sedate. If looking for a quieter, tried and true formula romance, this would be a nice pick. I'll be looking forward to the third in the series coming up where Aidan's roguish marquess friend will be finding love. ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Apr 17, 2019 |
You will fall instantly in love with Aidan who is a one-third partner in the Duke’s Den. He doesn’t know all of his past, but what he does know about it is poverty, the workhouse, hunger, cold, loneliness, and sorrow. Now, he is as rich as Croesus, he is very successful in business and investing, but he doesn’t have the acceptance he desires in society. He is searching for information on his mother who dropped him and his sister off at a workhouse, then just disappeared and he is also desperately wanting to be on the planning committee for Prince Albert’s grand industrial exhibition. So far, he’s had no success, the aristocracy just doesn’t take him seriously – if they acknowledge him at all. So, to gain the influence he wants, he needs to marry into the aristocracy – the higher the level the better.

Aidan and Miss Diana Ashby had an encounter a year earlier when she saved him from two cutpurses who were out to rob him – and worse. They were immediately attracted to each other, but they left the encounter without introducing themselves and with no expectations they’d ever meet again. Neither of them ever forgot the other and often thought of each other.

Diana was raised to be a proper lady, she learned all of the rules at Bexley Finishing School. She may know all of the rules, but she’s not interested in balls, soirees, strolling the park at the fashionable hour or marriage. What she is interested in is her inventions. Her father was an inventor – not a very successful one, but an inventor none-the-less. The difference between her inventions and her fathers is that hers are practical and useful. With the family coffers near empty, her mother has given her until the end of the month to find an investor for her inventions. Otherwise, she’ll have to enter the marriage mart.

Diana applied to the owners of the Duke’s Den seeking their investment in her invention (what sounds like a vacuum cleaner), but there was an accident just before she went in for her interview and she couldn’t demonstrate. She tells Aidan that it was his fault and that if he’d like to see it work, he can come to her workshop.

A deal is struck. Diana will help Aidan find an aristocratic wife and Aidan will invest in Diana’s invention. It doesn’t take Aidan long to regret that bargain because the woman he really wants is busy introducing him to other prospective brides. He has to manage to convince her that she wants him as much as he wants her.

It is a lovely romance between two people who don’t think they need love. They are perfect for each other. They are both driven and intense and they just complete each other. It is really a lovely romance.

I met some really lovely people in this book and I’d love to know what happens in their lives. I assume this is a trilogy – one book for each of the owners of the Duke’s Den – but after meeting these intriguing people, I’d like to learn more about them. There are Diana’s friends, Lady Sophronia Bales, Miss Grace Grinstead, and Lady Elizabeth Thorndyke as well as Diana’s brother Dominick who deserve their own stories. Maybe they’ll get their own stories or we’ll learn more in the series wrap-up.

I definitely recommend this lovely romance.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ( )
  BarbaraRogers | Apr 16, 2019 |
I received an ARC of this book to read through Edelweiss+ in exchange for a fair review. Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle is the second book in her Duke’s Den series. This one could be read as a stand-alone, but I did enjoy reading the first one and recommend it.
Aiden Iverson is a self made man, abandoned in a workhouse as a child he has become a successful business man who provides funding to inventors. He and Diana first meet when he is attacked by a couple of thugs and she comes running to his rescue umbrella in hand. Diana Ashby has no interest in marriage, she likes in make things that are useful and has hopes of saving her family from ruin with one of her inventions. She seeks financing from Aiden and offers to help him find a blue-blooded bride in exchange for his help, however they have a chemistry between them that cannot be denied no matter how much they try to be practical. I very much enjoyed this story. Medium Steam Publishing Date April 30, 2019
#Edelweissplus #AnythingButADuke #ChristyCarlyle #HaperCollinsCanada #AvonImpulse ( )
  nmgski | Apr 3, 2019 |
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