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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Call Me Duchess by Maggie Dove

Call Me Duchess by Maggie Dove
Publisher: Eternal Press
Genre: Historical, suspense/mystery
Length: Full Length (242 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

A rapist is loose in London…and he has plans for Marguerite Wiggins.

Grippingly suspenseful and romantic, CALL ME DUCHESS is one young woman’s stunning journey to find love in 1870s London while a dashingly handsome chaperone, a heinous villain, and her own lofty aspirations stand in her way.

Left penniless by their father, Marguerite Wiggins and her sisters must find husbands during the London season or find work as governesses by season’s end. Determined to become the next Duchess of Wallingford, Marguerite must make the difficult decision between following her heart or attaining her lifelong dreams and ambitions as a depraved rapist seeks to make her his next victim.

Four months is not much time to find a husband, but the Wiggins girls, Winifred, Penelope, and Marguerite, face the challenge with determination. With their Aunt Elizabeth’s help, they dive into the London Season decked out to the nines. Each girl approaches the hunt with her own agenda, with Marguerite being the most ambitious. She plans to become the Duchess of Wallingford. Since an early age, she has been in love with the Duke of Wallingford, Phillip Lancaster—or at least with her image of him. Of course, she has never been formally introduced to him, but that doesn’t dampen her determination.

The girls’ appointed chaperone, Aston James, manages admirably with Winifred and Penelope, but the eighteen-year-old Marguerite is the bane of his life. Haughty, overconfident, stubborn, and beautiful, she drives him mad, but when she looks at him with her trusting, magnificent sapphire blue eyes, he would be willing to give up his freedom as a bachelor to have her for his own. However, Marguerite, in single-minded pursuit of the Duke, rejects all her suitors. When she is almost compromised by the brother of her favorite cousin’s fiancĂ©, she inadvertently insults the Duke in the presence of the socially elite and is shunned. Alas, her dreams are dashed.

Call Me Duchess has many subplots that add intrigue, mystery suspense, and a horror to the overt story of the London Season where young ladies, fitted in their finest, are put on display for the men to inspect. While love is longed for by some of the participants, money and title prove to be powerful issues in this marriage market.

The subplot of Edmund and his much-loved sister Julianna has it own intrigue and conflicts. Another subplot, the horrors of a rapist, is a dark contrast to the elegant, colorful social events. This subplot creates suspense and mystery that have a twist with foreshadowing. To me, it is a little overdone and even a little sensationalized for this type of story.

The story of the ne’er-do-well, gambling father Archibald Wiggins brings humor as well as a feeling of wanting to throttle him for his self-centered ways.

Maggie Dove creates some remarkable characters and plops them down into a swirl of activities that sweep the reader along with upheavals, tears, fears, and new loves. Five young women, the three Wiggins girls, their cousin Samantha, and Julianna, a special friend, find husbands and love in the super-charged atmosphere of one London Season during the late nineteenth century. Call Me Duchess is good entertainment!