Must Love Dukes (Tricks of the Ton 1)
Author: Elizabeth Michels
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: February 4, 2014
Lily is furious with her older brothers for incurring so much gambling debt they’ve had to start selling off family heirlooms. She is not about to let some stranger make off with her father’s pocket watch. Oh, no. She’s going to steal it back. And thus begins a life of new life of brazen seduction, alter egos, and one night with a mad duke that will forever be seared in her memory…
When Devon Grey, Duke of Thornwood, next sees the chit who literally stole from his bedchamber, he’s determined to expose the prim and proper miss for what she really is. With one wild dare after another, he’ll have Lily setting London ablaze with scandal. But the last laugh is on him…
I don’t often think of historicals as something I’m going to giggle at throughout (in a good way, not an oh-my-god-this-is-eye-rollingly-bad way), but Ms. Michels managed to do just that throughout Must Love Dukes. I found her voice fresh and her quirky sense of humor (which really shines when it comes to Devon and his taking advantage of his title as the “Mad Duke”).
Lily’s family bites, that’s about the politest word I have for them. Money and power hungry, and willing to sell her to the highest bidder. She doesn’t want to go to London just to be forced into a marriage but two of her brothers make her do just that. The third, Nathaniel, is awesome (and gay). Kudos to Ms. Michels for the inclusion of a gay brother who has a protector, in the way that courtesans usually do. It made for a very different sort of character (in my opinion) and really richened up the atmosphere for me in this book.
Devon has lived down the title of Mad Duke ever since the title passed to him. The Ton thinks his family’s cracked because his father was an explorer and wanted to do that, not sit around and play Society games. Unfortunately, that saddled Devon and the title with a lot of debt and he’s focused on saving his family. Then he meets Lily, who steals a pocket watch he’d just bought, and then after a night of rather awesome loving, she sneaks out and he can’t find her.
A year later, he finally does and we learn that Lily had stolen the watch because her brother (not Nathaniel) was selling off the family heirlooms to keep money flowing in and she was hurting over the recent death of her father. She’s now being forced into Society to marry to bring in a fat purse from a prospective husband. Her one rebellion against this is she refuses to live with her jerk brothers and instead stays with Nathaniel who was disowned many years earlier because of his, er, lifestyle choice.
When Devon sees the little miss who stole his watch, he takes advantage, blackmailing her into helping him cause havok amongst society (and it’s hilarious the results of his tasks – I mean, c’mon, he made a horse horny and in the prissy society of the times, you can imagine how that went over). Of course the sparks that sent them to bed are still there.
I loved the final pages of this book where Lily’s brothers get what they deserve, and Devon and Lily find a way to be together. The whole book just sparkled for me and I can’t wait to read another by Ms. Michels (I have the second book in the series, but you’re going to have to wait an entire month until I review it. HAH!)
Please, do yourself a favor and jump all over this book if you like Regencies with a sense of humor to them. I know I certainly did. Mad Duke Devon is going on my list of favorite heroes.
Thank you, Ms. Michels and Sourcebooks, for letting me read this!
Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.