William Chambers, Duke of Bedford, ascended to the title upon his father’s death, but he also inherited his father’s extensive debts. Desperate to avoid scandal and ruin, he is willing to go to any lengths – including marrying, sight unseen, a reclusive American heiress known as Frosty Franny.
Francesca wanted to marry for love, but her social-climbing mother arranged a betrothal to an English duke who is likewise not eager to marry. But a chance encounter and a dash of intrigue make the unwilling couple rethink what they really desire.
I am giving this book 3.5 stars and here's why: I absolutely loved the heroine but I wasn't really that fond of the hero. First of all, I won this book from a giveaway on Romance Bandits (an awesome blog that everyone should check out; they are really friendly over there) and I was really interested in reading it because I loved the whole penniless duke marrying an American heiress story line.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story in the beginning as reader learns more about Francesca. Her nouveau riche family desperately wanted to marry her to someone with a title and her mother found the perfect candidate in the Duke of Bedford. Fran doesn't want to get married to the duke because she loved someone else (Randolph) and she did all she can to escape the marriage. Fran was smart, resourceful, bold, and she wasn't afraid to speak out. She her hobbies were translating children's stories into English and bee keeping. In the beginning she shied away from society parties and such, but she grew out her fear. Throughout the book she shined and she was one of the best heroines I've read in a while.
William the duke of Bedford didn't shine as much. To me he was a stiff character who mostly cared about social standing and appearances. The reader also does not learn much about his past as much as we do Fran's. All we pretty much know about him was that he had a crappy childhood and his was married before to a cheating wife.
The story revolved around the big misunderstanding: William got it in his head that Fran was pregnant by another man (his reasons for coming to this conclusion were feeble at best) but even when she told him that she wasn't pregnant he didn't believe her! And he kept on believing 3/4 of the book (even after she denied it more than once)! That made me dislike William. There was another scene where he overhears a conversation Fran was having with Randolph and he misunderstood what he heard, so he tells the family (which made turned them against Fran) and goes and gets drunk. After that I gave up on him. I thought Fran deserved a better hero.
My favorite scene in the book was when Fran and the villainous Lady Mandrake were having a silent battle using their fans. The whole fan "language" fascinated me and I would love to know what all the fan motions meant. This was my first book by Miss MacMeans and I don't think it'll my last. I think she writes well and I am very much interested in reading The Education of Mrs. Brimley (a prequel to this book and tells the story of William's brother Nicholas). Nicholas and his wife Emma were delightful in this book. Miss MacMeans hinted some of what occurred in Nicholas' book that I very much wanted to read in full.
I recommend this book if you want to read about a great heroine. I think this book would be a good lazy weekend read.