Wednesday, August 28, 2013

(Review) I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe

Title: I Married the Duke
Author: Katharine Ashe
Series: The Prince Catchers, #1
Published: August 27, 2013 (Avon)
Rating: Staying in Tonight
Format: Digital ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Summary: Three very different sisters beguile society with their beauty and charm, but only one of them must fulfill a prophecy: marry a prince. Who is the mystery Prince Charming, and which sister will be his bride?

On the way to marry a prince in a castle, a lady should never:

1. Bribe an infuriatingly arrogant and undeniably irresistible ship captain,
2. Let him kiss her senseless on a beach,
3. Battle thieves at his side,
4. Exchange wedding vows with him, even under the direst circumstances.

But daring, determined Arabella Caulfield isn’t just any lady. And Luc Westfall is no typical ship captain.
From the moment I stumbled across this book on Goodreads, I knew I wanted to read it! I am a sucker for the Engaged to Another trope, and the summary was worded in a way that made it seem like it could be a lot of fun. I love books that take place on ships. Plus, Lisa Kleypas praise is on the cover, and we all know how I feel about her. What more could a girl ask for?

I will say that the blurb is a tad bit misleading. Arabella is not, in fact, engaged to wed the prince. She is actually a governess going to serve the royal family by training the princess. As a beautiful women in a subservient position, she has had many experiences with the men in the families with which she lived paying her unwanted attention. She knows the prince is on another level entirely. Still, she has it in her mind that she must marry the prince to fulfill the prophesy, so as far as she is considered, she is practically engaged already.

Unfortunately, her attraction to Luc does not play into that plan, nor do all the crazy happenings that occur while she is on her way to the royal family.

At the same time, we have Luc, the ship captain with a piratical eyepatch, who is secretly the probable heir to a dukedom, something he does not feel the need to share with Arabella. In fact, their interactions aboard the ship are few. They made me laugh so much, because they both were totally dying to see each other but fighting it. Of course. But while they do not interact many times while at sea, the interactions they do have are simply fantastic.

I'm going to have to be vague about what happens after they get off the ship. Because then all the crazy twists start happening, and I don't want to spoil them for you! Regardless, I enjoyed the book almost as much after they got off the ship as when they were on it, and occasionally even more. Suffice to say, things do not go as expected on any front. There were swoons, gasps, and giggles on my end - as well as a good bit of anger and disgust as some things are revealed on the dangerous front - as I watched these two fumble their way to their Happily Ever After.

The relationship development is slow enough to build tension and satisfy those of us who love good build up, but it also doesn't drag out forever. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the side plot, which does drag some toward the end. I liked both of the main characters, as well as the supporting ones! I am desperately hoping the princess has a sequel - or at least a novella, since I'm assuming this will turn into a trilogy about the three sisters - with one of Luc's friends. There is definitely some promise there! To me, at least.

There is also a strange aspect of Arabella's character that is touched upon but never fully explored. I feel like the book could have done without it. It did not seem necessary at all; the plot would have sufficed without it. And if for some reason it did need to be included, it should have been fleshed out. It was simply mentioned a couple of times, then trailed off never to be mentioned again, like the author forgot about it or simply didn't find it important enough to mention. Thankfully, this wasn't anything huge, but it was enough to bother me a little.

This was my first book by Katharine Ashe, but it definitely won't be my last! I will probably be exploring her backlist soon, as I don't want to wait until the release of the second book in the series (which has not even been announced yet). While this story was not quite perfect, it was certainly thoroughly enjoyable! I'm excited to see what else Ashe has in store.
If you are not a pirate, why do you cover your eye in that piratical manner? Is it an affectation to frighten off helpless women, or could you only find black cloth of that width and length?

But she’d had no idea what those men really wanted, no idea of the pleasure that could be had in the act, and no idea that she could feel such sensations or that with his touch a man could wind himself around her heart and make her want to sing and laugh and scream and beg for more all at once. And give him everything.

I think you should stop calling me your cabbage, or our siblinghood will swiftly become uncomfortable for you.
*All quotes from an advanced review copy, and may differ from the finished version.

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