How the Duke Was Won: The Disgraceful Dukes

How the Duke Was Won: The Disgraceful Dukes

4.5 14
by Lenora Bell

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The pleasure of your company is requested at Warbury Park. Four lovely ladies will arrive… but only one can become a duchess.

James, the scandalously uncivilized Duke of Harland, requires a bride with a spotless reputation for a strictly business arrangement. Lust is prohibited and love is out of the question.

Four ladies. Three days. What could


The pleasure of your company is requested at Warbury Park. Four lovely ladies will arrive… but only one can become a duchess.

James, the scandalously uncivilized Duke of Harland, requires a bride with a spotless reputation for a strictly business arrangement. Lust is prohibited and love is out of the question.

Four ladies. Three days. What could go wrong?

She is not like the others…

Charlene Beckett, the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan, has just been offered a life-altering fortune to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke’s proposal. All she must do is:

* Be the perfect English rose [Ha!]

* Breathe, smile, and curtsy in impossibly tight gowns [blast Lady Dorothea’s sylph-like figure]

* Charm and seduce a wild duke [without appearing to try]

* Keep said duke far, far from her heart [no matter how tempting]

When secrets are revealed and passion overwhelms, James must decide if the last lady he should want is really everything he needs. And Charlene must decide if the promise of a new life is worth risking everything . . . including her heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/14/2016
Debut author Bell begins the Disgraceful Dukes Regency series with a winning tale in which disreputable but charming protagonists bond over a shared passion for righting social injustices. Charlene, the illegitimate and unacknowledged daughter of an earl, longs to save herself and her sister from prostitution by opening a boarding house for impoverished girls. James, a second son who unexpectedly inherits a ducal title, arrives in London prepared to marry an impeccable bride, produce an heir, and return to the West Indies to run his fair-wage cocoa farms. When James invites four women to audition for the role of duchess, Charlene is hired to stand in for her look-alike half-sister, Lady Dorothea, until Dorothea returns from abroad. Charlene’s spirited manner, martial arts skills, and instant rapport with James’s biracial daughter (whose existence and acceptance by her father are absolutely scandalous to most of the London elite) immediately put her at the top of the list, but soon James’s suspicions of trickery dampen his ardor. Meanwhile, Charlene reluctantly cedes her place to Dorothea, certain a duke would never marry an illegitimate woman. Colorful supporting characters, plentiful plot twists, and the trials of star-crossed lovers make for a sizzling and heartwarming page-turner. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM Partners. (May)
Lorraine Heath
“HOW THE DUKE WAS WON hooked me from page one with its humor, emotion, and captivating characters. Lenora Bell is a true delight to read.”
Sophie Jordan
“HOW THE DUKE WAS WON is everything that made me first fall in love with historical romances while still being new and different. Trust’ve been waiting for Lenora Bell.”
Sarah Maclean
“How the Duke was Won is exciting and emotional—evocative of the best of the genre. If you’ve been looking for a bold, new voice in historical romance, the search ends here. Lenora Bell is it.”
Kerrelyn Sparks
“Fresh, flirty, and fabulous! Lenora Bell is the new Belle of Historical Romance!”
Sarah MacLean
“How the Duke was Won is exciting and emotional--evocative of the best of the genre. If you’ve been looking for a bold, new voice in historical romance, the search ends here. Lenora Bell is it.”
Booklist (starred review)
“RWA Golden Heart winner Bell’s debut romance, the first in her Disgraceful Dukes series, is a knockout with its seductive combination of breathtakingly sexy romance, a refreshingly unconventional hero and heroine, and clever writing infused with droll wit.”
Eloisa James
A debut that reads like an instant classic. Message to my readers: You’ll love Lenora Bell!
RT Book Reviews
“Combine The Princess and the Pea with a dollop of Cinderella and you have Bell’s fresh, lively romance! Along with its carefully crafted plot, rapid-fire repartee, quick pace and delightful characters, this sensual tale is a delectable romance made to charm.”
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-03-03
One proud duke, four desperate women, and a weekend full of surprises. Charlene knows her place—she's the by-blow of the Earl of Desmond—and all she dares hope for is a better life for her family. Her father's wife has offered her what might be her only chance to change their lives. Charlene looks just like her half sister, Lady Dorothea, who's busy traveling, which means Lady Desmond wants to train Charlene to stand in for Dorothea and help charm the Duke of Harland into marrying her. Charlene needs to use all of her talents to reach James, aka His Disgrace, who's bringing four women to his country house for a weekend in order to find a suitably proper wife (with suitably powerful father) who can give him an heir and restore his reputation. True love isn't his aim; he only cares for his cocoa farm in the West Indies, where he's abolished slavery, and his only goal is making chocolate affordable for everyone in England. Over a weekend of pratfalls, with Lady Desmond urging her on from the sidelines, Charlene falls for the duke despite herself, and the duke falls for "Lady Dorothea." When Charlene secures a betrothal, her work is done—but the duke might not be fooled so easily. Bell's debut romance is as fierce as Charlene's self-defense skills and is full of surprises. The duke's proto-social justice leanings add a new angle to this spicy romance and will delight fans of the genre. Bell has found a new avenue to the happily-ever-after of the Regency era, and it's one that fans will enjoy exploring. Bold and sweet as good chocolate, this debut romance will give Regency fans a new author for their must-read list.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
The Disgraceful Dukes
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Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

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How the Duke Was Won: The Disgraceful Dukes 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This was a delightful surprise! Ms. Bell's first novel and it was funny, heartwarming, and true to each character. She didn't use any cliched misunderstandings to keep the h/h apart and she gave time for them to get to know each other. I read it in one day and am looking forward to the next book in the series! Definitely worth the money!
MoniqueD More than 1 year ago
Reading and reviewing so many books makes you wonder sometimes if you’re becoming jaded, blasé, and then you come across a glittering, sparkling jewel like HOW THE DUKE WAS WON, and everything is right with the world again. James, Duke of Harland, had never given marriage a single thought until his father and brother died in an unfortunate accident. James, “His Disgrace” must choose a bride of impeccable breeding to offset everything he is not. James had been abroad for ten years, roaming the world and overseeing his cocoa plantations in Trinidad and Venezuela; he doesn’t even care about behaving like a proper duke, that is, like his late father. So he decided to send invitations to the four most promising candidates and over three days, choose one for a bride. Then he will sire an heir and go back to the West Indies. No love, no lust will be involved, it’s a business transaction like any other. One of those ladies is Lady Dorothea Beaumont, unfortunately she is in Italy, but her mother knows of her illegitimate half-sister, Charlene Beckett. Charlene’s mother owns a bawdy house and trained Charlene to be a courtesan, however Charlene refused: she’s rather do the ladies’ washing than prostitute herself. The Becketts are indebted to a Lord Grant who had loaned Charlene’s mother money to make a go of her bordello, and now he wants his money back, but there is no money. If there is no money to be had, he will take Charlene or worse her fourteen year-old sister Luisa. When Dorothea’s mother, Lady Desmond, comes to Charlene to ask her to pose as Dorothea, Charlene hesitates, but she and Dorothea could pass as twins and the money Lady Desmond will give Charlene will solve all her problems. The only thing she has to do is seduce the Duke of Harland so he asks Dorothea’s hand in marriage. I read the blurb, and I thought HOW THE DUKE WAS WON sounded entertaining and fun, but only saying this would do such a phenomenal book a disservice. The premise sounded a tad shaky, but it is not at all: the whole plot is airtight. Ms. Bell has woven an extraordinary story where I laughed myself silly at the beginning: there are hilarious episodes, very witty dialogue, and I have seldom seen a cast of equally fabulous characters. I am not even going to reveal hints of spoilers, but Charlene can take care of herself in spectacular fashion; she’s extremely clever and dedicated to helping the downtrodden and abused, as best as she can. James is nothing like your average reprobate duke; he even has a broken nose! He’s an extremely complex fellow, a true eccentric, and he is absolutely wonderful; I adored both Charlene and James. Ms. Bell’s exceptional attention to historical detail makes, what might have started as an outrageous romp, an intriguing look into every level of Regency society, and somehow I had the feeling that things that might first appear as ridiculous were most likely how it happened in real life. HOW THE DUKE WAS WON is very fast-paced, and I read it in one sitting, because no way was I going to put that book down! The writing is impeccable and eloquent, the dialogues simply scrumptious, the romance entirely believable and positively divine. I also loved reading about everything that had to do with cocoa. I had no idea how the story would end, and I read with bated breath, while I wiped a tear or two. Lenora Bell is a true star: Brava! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
ValerieStuckInBooks 8 days ago
How the reader was won?! That's what this book does. I adore this book and must find time to read more from this author and this series. While some may judge romance books as scandalous or meaningless reading, they would simply never understand the power of this book. Romance books, and this historical one in particular, have a way of making right the wrongs and giving hope where there is none. This book hits the very reason I am a reader squarely on the head. When my own life doesn't feel like a place I want to be, I can hide in the pages of a book where even the impossible can be possible and the hopeless can find hope. I love reading books with that much power and this book has it. The characters in this book are also powerful. Not comfortable doing what everyone else does, both James and Charlene belong in a different world than they occupy. James, the disgrace of a Duke, and Charlene, the unacknowledged daughter of an Earl raised to be a courtesan, are drawn to each other. And it makes no sense for either of them. And it can't possibly work. And they both have secrets. But the heart becomes involved and changes things. The story is masterful. I adore the righteous that both James and Charlene have towards slaves and working girls. Those types had to exist at the time or things would have never changed. I love that aspect of the story. I love that this ends up being a pretending story that neither of them even understand. He doesn't want a love marriage. She's not looking for marriage at all, not for herself. Both are trying to do the right thing but breaking each other's hearts to do it. There was this feel of "the bachelor" and reality TV that skimmed the surface of this one. So much fun. The writing is sinful. Kissing has never been so yummy. The bursting of bodices has never been so hysterical. The Duke on his arse has never been so deserving. I enjoyed every word, every page. Combining the powerful characters, masterful story and sinful writing, this one needs to be consumed! Haven't read historical in a while, let this one break that trend! You will definitely not regret it.
LilyElementBookReviews 11 days ago
How the Duke Was Won is book one in The Disgraceful Dukes series. This is a Historical Romance with a pretending to be someone else type trope with tons of humor mixed in. I was laughing like crazy at some of the antics in this book. I started this book thinking it sounded great (and was right) but wound up loving it and need to read more of Lenora Bell's work ASAP. We start it off The Bachelor style, James the Duke of Harland is in need of a bride and has limited time. He decides to invite 4 eligible ladies for a three-night stay and at the end, he'll decide which will become his wife. I mean, what could go wrong with a handsome unconventional Duke in a house with four ladies and their mothers? I'll tell you what, one of the ladies (Lady Dorothea) is on a trip when her family receives her invitation so her mother decides to pay Dorothea's courtesan half-sister that's unacknowledged by the father to play the part. She's nearly identical but doesn't have near the same refined manner. So we have Charlene Beckett posing as Lady Dorothea and it leads to some dress popping hilarious times. James (the hottie Duke) is instantly attracted to "Lady Dorothea" and wants her gone. But with only four women to quickly choose from and each outing narrowing down his choices I couldn't wait to see who he'd pick and if he'd figure out that Lady Dorothea wasn't really who she seems. How the Duke Was Won was a hilarious read that I couldn't put down. If I had to pick my favorite thing about the entire book, it would have to be the main characters! I loved Charlene's character, she wasn't shy to share her stances on anything. I wound up rooting for her even when things just kept going wrong. James was not your typical Duke and it was great that he was so different from the rest in this genre. If you're a fan of Historical Romance, you have to read this book. Especially if you enjoy humor added into your reads.
Anonymous 5 months ago
The story line drew you in from the very beginning. The characters had alit of dept. I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know which girl he picked.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Anonymous 6 months ago
I finished it although it was not a favorite read
Sam1219 7 months ago
Known commonly as "His Disgrace," James, Duke of Harland seeks a reputable, proper, well-bred Lady to wed to rehabilitate his reputation in England, smooth the way for a few Parliamentary reforms, and bear his children. Having loved and lost before, he guards his heart carefully and wants his marriage to resemble a harmonious business partnership, with a wife everyone will publicly respect and that he can privately forget, particularly as he plans to return to his cocoa plantation in Trinidad as soon as he can beget an heir, and he plans to return to England only for the purpose of siring spares and settling business affairs. To secure this paragon of virtue and respectability, the Duke issues invitations to 4 prospective brides who meet his requirements on paper to visit his estate with their mothers for an audition of sorts so he can select one to marry. Eager to land a Duke for their daughters, all 4 mothers throw their daughters into the fray. But Lady Desmond's daughter Dorothea is in Italy at the time of,the Duke's summons. Refusing to allow Dorothea to miss out on the opportunity to land a Duke, Lady Desmond recruits Dorothea's half-sister, Charlene, the illegitimate daughter born in a brothel, to impersonate Dorothea in her absence. Wanting to escape the clutches of a cruel predator who seeks to brand her and her sister and use the, as sex slaves, the still virginal Charlene agrees to,the ruse to earn the money she would need to,close the brothel and set up a legitimate bording house and set her sister up with an artist's apprenticeship. But will a girl who is basically a housekeeper in a brothel be able to capture a duke? Will he believe the ruse? What of their hearts? The basic story progresses along predictable lines, but the anecdotal incidents are amusing enough to keep the story interesting. This was a quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I am looking forward to more "Disgraceful Dukes" novels in the future.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I absolutely loved this book! I loved all the characters & how they interacted! Can't wait for the next book!
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually laughed out loud a few times. Very entertaining and I loved the storyline.
def618 More than 1 year ago
This is a very good first book. I enjoyed it very much. James is unexpectedly the new Duke of Harland, having lived in the Caribbean for many years. He produces cocoa and has built a factory in England to produce and sell it. He has no plans to stay in England longer than it takes to find a wife and make sure the heir is conceived. He has a plan to pick the right wife in 3 days and invites 4 ladies to his estate. But are the ladies who he thinks they are? And what happens if they discover the other occupant of his home? Things get complicated and amusing and I do not want to ruin the story. I can easily recommend this book.
cdscotton More than 1 year ago
Well-Written Book With a Personal Dislike **SPOILERS FOR IDENITY REVEAL BELOW*** I liked this novel but it had a major personal sticking point that tempered my enjoyment of the book. I found Charlene and James to be wonderful and well-written characters, the supporting characters were fleshed out well enough that they did not feel like caricatures, and I was thoroughly enjoying the story until near the end. But I can't rate it any higher because Charlene did not reveal the truth about her idenity to James before they engaged in sex. He still thought she was Lady Dorothea and for me that is something I personally do not like in an "in disguise" story. However, I liked the writing style and the characters and will be reading Ms. Bell's next book.
TheLustyLiterate More than 1 year ago
Brilliant, Uproarious, Deliciously Sensual, and Utterly Marvelous! 4/4.5 Stars | Hot Steam Tempted by its delightful heroine-in-disguise premise and the mouthwatering prospect of an uncivilized duke, I couldn’t wait to read Lenora Bell’s Avon debut, HOW I WON THE DUKE. And—oh my swooning stars—how I adored it! Brilliant, uproarious, deliciously sensual, and utterly marvelous, I couldn’t put it down! Every sumptuous minute I spent blithely immersed in Charlene and James’ vivacious tale felt like a precious gift. Cannily penned with dazzling wit, artistry, confidence, and command, Lenora Bell’s stellar first novel is a captivating pager-turner that enchants and entertains from its buoyant start to its blissful conclusion. Worldly, arrogant, untamed, ruggedly sexy, and wickedly delectable, the colossal Duke of Harland branded my heart the instant “His Disgrace” launched daggers at his wall littered with the demure illustrations of marriageable debutantes. Perfectly piratical through and through, James steals every scene he inhabits as he repeatedly and unrepentantly shocks and scandalizes his invited flock of young and bejeweled prospective duchesses and their perpetually huffy and ruffled mamas. It was so much rollicking fun to watch the unkempt duke’s hasty, unorthodox, and hilariously passionless plan supremely backfire the moment he laid his lust-filled eyes on “Lady Dorothea,” aka Charlene. Already brusque and unhinged prior to her arrival, James’ sudden, acute attraction to Charlene rapidly transforms him into a thunderous, primal beast—barely restrained, frustrated, and starved for her touch. Gratifyingly, as he gets to know her, his heated interest evolves from an inconvenient thorn in his inflamed libido into a full-blown, blinding obsession. James finds himself not only anguished to discover and devour every inch of her succulent curves, he increasingly desires and admires her surprising strength, warmth, nonconformity, and inspiring compassion for those less fortunate. She’s flat-out glorious, and I effortlessly fell in love with her just as James did. They make a riveting pair whose timeless connection and simmering chemistry is enviable, fabulously provocative, and immensely satisfying to read. I treasured Charlene and James’ winning romance and am now counting down the days until the second Disgraceful Dukes novel, IF I ONLY HAD A DUKE, releases this August. Dorothea and Garrett’s story sounds like my next heavenly escape! Bottom Line: Lenora Bell’s astonishing debut is not to be missed! Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review.