The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen
Length: Full (368 pages)
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia
Twelve years after fleeing their burning chateau, Julien Harcourt, Duc de Valère, searches for his lost twin brothers. His frequent travels between England and France at a time when the exiled Napoleon is reported to be marshalling his troops raises the suspicions of English authorities who set secret operative Sarah Smith on his trail. A risky game of cat and mouse leads the two from the ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris and into a fragile love that neither dares to hope for.
The first in a trilogy of three brothers struggling to reconnect and restore their noble heritage in the aftermath of the French Revolution, each losing his heart along the way.
Being told to be a spy and being a spy are two very different things. Sarah Smith, a self-effacing governess, repeats her motto of “chin up” often as she enters the home of Julian Harcourt, duc de Valere to find information her employer Sir Northrop wants concerning Julian’s activities.
Sarah, an orphan and considered a bastard, has never felt loved or wanted; even as a governess she is an outsider. However, she has phantom dreams of happiness and love with a mother and father. She is a heartwarming heroine that proves to be intelligent, resourceful, and a force to be reckoned with when pushed too far. She does have one weakness that is embarrassing, but comes in handy in times of extreme stress.
Julian Harcourt, duc de Valere took on heavy responsibilities at an early age when he and his mother escaped the peasant revolt in France. After twelve years in England, he is a wealthy man of business, a very eligible bachelor; but he is still a displaced nobleman. His clandestine actions make him suspect, but his desire to find his brother in France overrides the danger he encounters. Stern and socializing only to further his own agenda, Julian does not play the games of matchmaking in London’s High Society. However, when Sarah arrives as Serafina de Greyene, masquerading as another displaced person of French nobility, he decides to do what is expected of him. A new phase of Julian’s life kicks in. My goodness, what a phase it is.
Shana Galen creates a captivating tale that has all the trappings of the Regency era as background. But the dialogue, charming wit, the intrigues, and the steamy love scenes in The Making of a Duchess make the novel a page-turner. It bristles with secondary characters like the privateer Captain Stalwart and the forger Thompson that facilitate secret dealings of a shadowy world apart from London’s High Society. As Julian and Sarah deal with both levels of the society, they put their lives in peril and question if their relationship can survive amid all the deceptions and turmoil.
Love, wiggling its way in among all the problems, becomes an oasis that succors Julian and Sarah. DELIGHTFUL READING!