Maya Rodale comes to the blog with the first in a new series: The Gilded Age Girl’s Club, set in New York and incorporating the ever-changing world that was New York in the late 19th century. Please read on for my review of
Duchess by Design
In a letter from the author, Rodale explains her research and the few changes that she made to incorporate the very real issues of the day pertaining to activism in terms of female empowerment and choices: from snippets of speeches to the very real “Dollar Duchess’ phenomenon, to a society that provided options heretofore unknown to women for their own self-determination. And each of these moments played an important part in this story and in the progression of Adeline on the way to making her dream a reality. Born on the wrong side of ‘acceptable’ yet never actually taking that as her only option, Adeline’s biggest dream is to own a dress shop and design fashion for women that everyone will and can wear. Watching her mother exist through a series of bad marriages because she had no other option, she started working at a dress shop, learning and perfecting her skills and supporting herself. A huge step forward in her experience, as she is able to afford a place to live and has money for food, clothing and isn’t beholden to any man, or forced to forego her own sense of propriety. Due to her employer’s illness, she is sent to a client’s final fitting at the city’s most prominent hotel. Excited to mention (and offer) some of her own suggestions and design ideas that have repeatedly been shot down by her boss. Meeting Harriett Burnett, heiress, could be the move that starts to change everything for her. But first…
Brandon, Duke of Kingston is in New York at the suggestion of his cousin/best friend Freddie, a second son and married to an American heiress himself. Inheriting a title with no funds, mountains of debt and a mother who can’t pass up any excuse for new and ‘fashionable’ clothing and accessories and two sisters without dowries- he’s in a tight spot. Never expecting that he would marry for love – he’s willing to forego his own choices and happiness to give his sisters a chance at love, and to keep his mother happy. Landing in New York – the papers are all atwitter with his arrival, and the lobby is crammed with people, guests and not, looking to glimpse the rich and beautiful. A full-body collision with Adeline on the way to her meeting is seared into his brain. Her beauty, her seeming disregard of his title (which never happens in Britain) and the gentle flirtation that, from her side, seems to be a way of ‘appeasing him’ is one he can’t forget. And seeing her enter the suite next to his – he’s certain she’s the women perfect for his duchess.
With Adeline finding new opportunities through her connection to the Ladies of Liberty Club, she’s got her own shop with her best friends and other women in need of proper work unavailable to them – the only problem is they aren’t getting much work. Kingston arrives, determined to get her out into society and get her name known. He’s realizing (slowly) that his attraction to her has created unknown levels of difficulty, and his being a Duke – while utterly cowing in England, means little to anyone other than marriage-minded mamas in search of a title for their daughter. A deal where Adeline’s designs will be shown, and he’ll be certain to mention her shop is launched, and all for Adeline helping to steer him in the right direction in his hunt for a Duchess. Until a masquerade ball where he leaves his soon-to-be betrothed woman’s side to chase after Adeline, there with the women from the club, and all the fury falls on Adeline and her shop. Oh this was fun – even if the ‘romance’ didn’t always feel particularly real to me. What stood out was the girl power in this story, and Adeline’s ability to make Kingston think – think about his own sheltered life, his lack of understanding of true poverty and the restrictions placed on women – and the damages possible from just whispers of impropriety. Adeline is wholly unimpressed by his ‘title’, she wants the man beneath, and he’s desperate to prove that man worthy. But there is still the matter of money – and his lack of it. Understanding the opportunities (repeatedly explained to him by Adeline) in New York, and more than a bit of risk – he makes moves that will both bring the entailed estates money but allow him the opportunity to reach for love. A wonderful introduction to a new series, with plenty of change and enlightenment for the characters, while including a sense of the changes afoot in society of the day.
Title: Duchess by Design
Author: Maya Rodale
Series: The Gilded Age Girls Club #1
Also in this series: Some Like It Scandalous, An Heiress to Remember
Genre: Gilded Age, Historical Romance, Setting: American
Published by: Avon
Published on: 23 October, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 8 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
In the first novel of Maya Rodale’s enthralling new series, an English duke vows to make an American seamstress his duchess...
In Gilded Age Manhattan, anything can happen...
Seeking a wealthy American bride who can save his family’s estate, Brandon Fiennes, the duke of Kingston, is a rogue determined to do the right thing. But his search for an heiress goes deliciously awry when an enchanting seamstress tumbles into his arms instead.
...and true love is always in fashion
Miss Adeline Black aspires to be a fashionable dressmaker—not a duchess—and not even an impossibly seductive duke will distract her. But Kingston makes an offer she can’t refuse: join him at society events to display her gowns and advise him on which heiresses are duchess material. It’s the perfect plan—as long as they resist temptation, avoid a scandal, and above all do not lose their hearts.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: