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Forever My Duke (2019)

by Olivia Drake

Series: Unlikely Duchesses (2)

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2710660,055 (3.81)None
The Duke of Clayton falls for an outspoken American who is planning to open a school.Hadrian Ames, the Duke of Clayton, needs a bride. He even has the perfect one picked out. That is, until he meets the lovely, free-spirited Natalie Fanshawe. She's the opposite of what a man of his high rank should desire in a wife--an outspoken American who has never even set foot in a London ballroom. But Natalie doesn't have time to be swept off her feet by a handsome duke who must be a spoiled scoundrel like every other British lord. And she couldn't care less about Hadrian's title. After all, it's not as if he actually worked to attain his wealth and status. He surely can't understand what it's like to be a busy woman, planning to open a school while trying to reunite a six-year-old orphan with his English relatives. Nevertheless, Hadrian launches his campaign to win her heart. Can the utterly delightful American beauty ever find a way to love him...despite his being a duke?--… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
What a wonderful addition to the Unlikely Duchesses series! Loved that a strong American woman, who speaks her mind gets the guy, and a good guy! Leo, the little cutie, steals the show and is just so lovable. Can't wait to see what the next book in the series is like!

This review is based on an ARC from NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. All opinions are my own. ( )
  Caelijean | Apr 21, 2020 |
What happens when a Duke meets an American woman who's father had been in Congress and she had been attacked by British soldiers in the wilderness during the war of 1812?
After seeing her friends killed, Natalie travels to England to bring their son to his grandparents. Having met Hadrian, the Duke of Clayton at an inn he helps her reach her destination which is the same as his own. He is in the market for a wife and he is hoping to choose Lady Ellen, the daughter of the Earl and aunt of the boy.
The rules of nobility are ridiculous to Natalie who grew up in democracy. Meeting the Duke, she sees that all nobles aren't the snobs she imagined them to be. In fact, the Duke is kind and friendly. He takes to the boy (a second cousin once removed).
The two are attracted to each other but can it ever work between and Duke and an American? That's for you to find out. The Happily Ever After was worth it.
I received an advanced copy of this book.
  ddeluna1 | Mar 19, 2020 |
3-3.5 Stars

Forever My Duke is a cute and charming historical romance with minimal angst. Natalie Fanshawe is a strong-willed american who after a tragic event, travels to England to reunite her best friends son with his English relatives. Hadrian Ames is a Duke in need of a bride. Despite their mutual attraction, they intend to remain friends and nothing more. Natalie is outspoken and unfamiliar with the ways of English society. Not to mention, she doesn't care for the English hierarchy which is the exact opposite of what a man of Hadrian's rank needs in a wife.

I love a good friends-to-lovers or opposites attract romance so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I think what I liked best was the progression of the romance. They didn't move too fast but it wasn't too slow either. Natalie's first priority was to make sure Leo had a safe, welcoming home before she returns to America so despite her growing feelings for Hadrian - and how different he is to what she knows of English nobility - she refuses to give up on her dreams and be his mistress. After all, why would a man of his rank be interested in marrying someone like her?
When Hadrian decides to pursue her, he knows he has to do so carefully. The complication of Leo's unwelcoming family provides the perfect excuse to keep both Natalie and Leo around long enough for him to change her mind.

Not only does this have main characters that you can't help but love, the secondary characters are just as great - with the exception of the Godwin family of course. I absolutely adored Leo and how Hadrian's mother and sister were quick to welcome Natalie into their lives.

This is my first book from Olivia Drake and I have to say it won't be my last. I think I'm going to pick up [b:The Duke I Once Knew|39863390|The Duke I Once Knew (Unlikely Duchesses, #1)|Olivia Drake|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1534869935l/39863390._SY75_.jpg|61659607] soon.

*ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  maebri | Mar 10, 2020 |
Full review posted at Reader's Edyn on 02/23/20

Natalie is an American and has no desire to be in England any longer than necessary. Disgusted by the separation of classes based on titles people are born to, she assumes the ton is nothing more than a bunch of soft dandies. If it were not for the final wish of her best friend, she would not be here. Would not be delivering the young Leo to a family he has never known. Would not have accidentally stumbled into Hadrian’s room at the inn, searching for her young charge. Would not be questioning everything she thought she knew about the upper classes of England. Would not be falling hard for the haughty Duke. Would not allow herself to entertain the slightest fantasy about what life might or could be like with Hadrian at her side. And yet, here she is. But her promise has yet to be fulfilled and in the face of unexpected complications and danger lurking around the corner, there is quite a lot left to sort out before she can hash things out with Hadrian. Her worst fear, previously surrounding the safe delivery of Leo, has now undergone a complete transformation and now has everything to do with losing Hadrian due to their glaringly opposing beliefs.

Hadrian is captivated by the opinionated Natalie from the very beginning. She challenges him at every opportunity and shows no fear in expressing her severe dislike for the very fabric of the society in which he was bred to thrive in. Wanting to prove her wrong, he suddenly finds himself struggling with the callous beliefs of the society that produced him. The family who raised him to be the Duke that he is now turn out to be strangers; people he no longer wishes to align his life with despite his father’s wishes. Plans he had made suddenly seem unfathomable. In what seems like an instant, Natalie shakes his very foundation. Hadrian quickly adapts to scenarios as they occur in ways he never would have prior to his meeting with the beautiful Miss Fanshawe. Weaker men would have crumbled with the revelations Hadrian uncovers, but his strength of character sculpt him into an even better person when everything is said and done. With any luck, his transformation will be enough to convince Natalie that their differences are not as disparaging as they had originally seemed and that there is a happily ever after in their future – if only she will agree to this journey of love and happiness at Hadrian’s side – an equal to be loved and cherished as demanded by her American upbringing.

The title of this series pretty much says it all. Unlikely duchesses. Natalie for sure fits this bill. For a Duke of the English aristocracy to fall for an American of the untamed wilderness would be one heck of a faux pas. Luckily, once the lust bug strikes (which is pretty much immediately), both Hadrian and Natalie begin to break from their lifelong beliefs and let their feelings lead them along their path as they work together to solidify a positive future for Leo. The trick is to find a place in which they can happily co-exist without giving up too much of themselves in order to accommodate the other one. I completely adored this book and could not put it down once I began it. While it wasn’t a story of mystery in the sense that you weren’t sure what would happen next, it still continued to move at a quick pace and kept me engaged with all of its quirky characters – even the ones I strongly disliked. Just about the time I had reached my limit of the wretched Godwin family, a wonderful change of location was provided in which Hadrian’s lively mother and sister were introduced. Both Millie and Lizzy added the perfect amount of light-hearted joviality and mischievous matchmaking to this tale. I thoroughly enjoyed them both and would be thrilled to encounter them again in a future book. Hadrian is initially presented as haughty with an inability to bend. However, we glimpse the slightest crack in the façade with his first interaction with Leo. From there the cracks continues to spread until he is full-on courting Natalie – a fact to which she was shockingly oblivious for a rather long amount of time. One interesting aspect here is that for every bit of Hadrian’s arrogance, Natalie is even more so with her American pride; almost to the point of taking things too far. While I could relate to her ingrained beliefs given her background, there were times that allowances needed to be made. When Prinny showed up, I almost thought things would go the other way. In the end, this becomes a story of love overcoming differences and two people who couldn’t be more opposite attracting one another. At the end of the day, pride makes for a lonely bedfellow and so Natalie and Hadrian find a place in which they can continue to be true to self, but also operate better together as a unified couple.

I have not had the opportunity to read the first book in this series, but I do not believe that it is imperative to read the series in order. I am unaware if the preceding story had anything to do with any of the characters in this book, but neither did I feel that I was receiving a bit of back story in which to catch me up to where I needed to be. A positive trait for a reader, like myself, who has not begun at the beginning. That said, I will more than likely make sure to read book one at some point in the future. Based on my recollection, this is my first read with Ms. Drake. As a historical romance author, she is wonderful. Ms. Drake skillfully crafts an engaging tale with the perfect balance of details essential for a delightful historical romance read that is guaranteed to bring readers back for more. If I wasn’t a fan before, I definitely am now. Everything from the description to the cover to the writing style draws the reader in. I, myself, was happily caught. I can’t say as I had many complaints within this book besides the couple of characters I truthfully couldn’t stand. However, such traits were intentional, so cannot be held in the negative toward this piece of work, which leaves only one thing. I felt like Hadrian was willing to give up far more than Natalie was when it looked like it was going to be love or loss. Yes, everything works out, but Hadrian did effectively undergo a fundamental change while Natalie really didn’t. I would have liked to see her give just a bit more in the name of love. The few scenes of intimacy were descriptive without crossing the threshold of risqué. For my personal taste, it was just enough and yet not enough. A perfect combination. That said, this book was good enough that the scenes could easily have been omitted or cut much shorter and it wouldn’t have had the slightest impact on the story. With or without those particular scenes, the book was still very well written. For those who enjoy easily read and immensely enjoyed HR books with a slight twist as within this UNLIKELY DUCHESS series, I highly recommend giving Ms. Drake a shot at compatibility.

Kindle version provided by NetGalley/St. Martin’s in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  GzNKz4evr | Feb 24, 2020 |
Forever My Duke by Olivia Drake is a charming historical romance. This newest addition to the Unlikely Duchesses series can be read as a standalone.

Natalie Fanshawe is an independent, intelligent and lively young woman. An American, she disdains the British aristocracy having been raised to believe all people are equal. So when she travels to England to fulfill her best friend Audrey's last wish, Natalie is not overly impressed by the Duke of Clayton Hadrian Ames' rank. Her only concern is ensuing six year old Leo Bellingham is in good hands when she brings him to his grandfather's estate. Natalie is right to be concerned since Audrey and her father were estranged for many years before her untimely death. Fiercely protective of Leo, Natalie wants to keep her promise but she is very uneasy about leaving her delightful young charge in the care of his grandfather.

In a fortuitous coincidence, Hadrian is also traveling to the same estate. He is a bit stuffy and a stick in the mud who puts duty above all else. Finally ready to settle down, Hadrian is planning to marry Audrey's much younger half-sister. He is quite charmed by the refreshingly forthright Natalie, but he is well aware she not the right woman for him. Hadrian is quite reserved and holds his emotions in check but after meeting Natalie and Leo, he becomes a bit more lively.

Natalie is a strong, vibrant woman who knows her own mind. She refuses to compromise her beliefs and she challenges Hadrian right from their first meeting. Natalie fights her attraction to Hadrian but she genuinely enjoys his company so she finds it difficult to keep her distance from him. She is very concerned about Leo but she feels like she has to honor Audrey's last wish.

Forever My Duke is a breezy, entertaining romance. Despite a few predictable plot elements, the storyline is engaging with delightful banter. Natalie is a marvelous character who is impossible not to like. Hadrian is aloof but likable and he struggles with communication and deep emotions. Leo is an adorable little boy who easily steals every scene he appears in. Natalie and Hadrian's relationship is fun to watch unfold and both characters grow and evolve over the course of the story. Olivia Drake brings this heartwarming romance to a sigh worthy conclusion. Old and new fans of the Unlikely Duchesses series are sure to enjoy this latest installment. ( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
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The Duke of Clayton falls for an outspoken American who is planning to open a school.Hadrian Ames, the Duke of Clayton, needs a bride. He even has the perfect one picked out. That is, until he meets the lovely, free-spirited Natalie Fanshawe. She's the opposite of what a man of his high rank should desire in a wife--an outspoken American who has never even set foot in a London ballroom. But Natalie doesn't have time to be swept off her feet by a handsome duke who must be a spoiled scoundrel like every other British lord. And she couldn't care less about Hadrian's title. After all, it's not as if he actually worked to attain his wealth and status. He surely can't understand what it's like to be a busy woman, planning to open a school while trying to reunite a six-year-old orphan with his English relatives. Nevertheless, Hadrian launches his campaign to win her heart. Can the utterly delightful American beauty ever find a way to love him...despite his being a duke?--

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