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The Unexpected Duchess

Book 1, Playful Brides

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.



Lady Lucy Upton's tongue may be too sharp to attract suitors but her heart is good, and when her painfully shy friend Cassandra needs help she devises a brilliant scheme to help her discourage an unwanted suitor, the Duke of Claringdon. Lucy will hide behind the hedgerow and tell Cass just what to say to discourage the Duke of Claringdon…but it turns out that he's made of sterner stuff than either of them anticipated. And Lucy is shocked to discover that tangling with the tenacious man is the most fun she's had in ages.


Lord Derek Hunt made a promise to his dying friend to marry the demure Cassandra, and for a man who wants nothing more than peace and quiet after the horrors of war, she'll make the perfect bride. If only the impudent Miss Upton will let him court the girl! Doing battle is the last thing on his mind, but bantering with Lucy behind the bushes is too tempting to resist. And in The Unexpected Duchess, the spoils of this war just may be true love…

Valerie Bowman's Secret Brides novels are:

"Intriguing [and] engaging."—Publishers Weekly

"Too delightful to miss!"—Lisa Kleypas

"Sparkling…witty…engaging." —RT Book Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 17, 2014 – Bowman (the Secret Brides series) launches the Playful Brides series of theater-themed Regency romances with a charming take on Cyrano de Bergerac. Lady Lucy Upton and Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon, can't quite conform to polite society's expectations. Lucy's clever tongue and unladylike bluntness has left her on the shelf, and her parents all but disowned her. Derek, a lowly soldier's son, received a dukedom for his military actions against Napoleon. Derek promises his gravely wounded friend Julian that he will take care of Julian's beloved, Lady Cassandra Monroe which Derek takes to mean that he should marry her. When Lucy is caught feeding dialogue to the more demure Cassandra, Lucy and Derek embark on entertaining verbal skirmishes that lead to heated physical encounters. Some unnecessary repetition of their conflicts and a thoroughly unsurprising twist are only minor detractions. Regency fans can anticipate more racy antics in future installments, which will focus on Lucy's beloved friends.

Customer Reviews

Good, not great

There was one really big edit error. One of the early chapters was in the wrong order. Left me scratching my head. The scene in the garden occurs then the next chapter the girls plan it.
A few small typos. For the most part it was well written. Although the characters tend to overthink everything ad nauseam. I skipped a few paragraphs here and there.
Also the decisions Lucy kept making didn't make a lot of sense to me at all. That made it hard for me to really get into the story.
The characters were well fleshed out, I think. Some of the dialogue was downright funny. It had a lot of promise and I believe if you are looking for a rather sweet story of three girls who are great friends, you will like it. It has a few sex scenes, not too steamy. At least not for me.

The Unexpected Duchess
View in iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Apr 29, 2014
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: Book 1, Playful Brides
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings