The Duke's Quandary

The Duke's Quandary

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by Callie Hutton

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The Duke's Quandary by Callie Hutton

London 1814...

Drake, Duke of Manchester is searching the Marriage Mart for a perfect bride. He wants a woman who is poised, sophisticated, and worthy of the title Duchess. But most of all, he wants a woman who does not want the useless emotion of love.

Socially awkward Miss Penelope Clayton isn't meant

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The Duke's Quandary by Callie Hutton

London 1814...

Drake, Duke of Manchester is searching the Marriage Mart for a perfect bride. He wants a woman who is poised, sophisticated, and worthy of the title Duchess. But most of all, he wants a woman who does not want the useless emotion of love.

Socially awkward Miss Penelope Clayton isn't meant for marriage. A serious botanist, she has no desire to wed, so being forced by her guardian to participate in the Season to find a husband is torture. She'll never fit in with the ton, especially if they discover she's been pretending to be a man within the scientific community.

As Drake's family makes over Penelope, turning her from naive bluestocking to enchanting debutante, he is put upon to introduce her to society and eligible bachelors. Despite dance lessons and new gowns, Penelope is the opposite of poised and sophisticated as she stumbles from one mishap to the next. Why then, does he find it so hard to resist her?

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Entangled Publishing, LLC
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Marriage Mart Mayhem
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The Duke's Quandary

A Marriage Mart Mayhem Novel

By Callie Hutton, Erin Molta

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2014 Callie Hutton
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62266-464-1


February, 1814

Devonshire, England

Her heart thumping with excitement, Penelope Clayton peered through her spectacles as she gently touched her finger to the three tiny leaves before her. Small, pale green, and delicate. Her lips twitched in a slight smile as she bent closer. A new specimen–she was absolutely certain. With a trembling hand, she dug around the outside of the plant with one of the Manor's silver tea spoons and eased out the tiny bud. She raised it to the scant sunlight and sighed.


Anxious to put pencil to paper and draw the cutting in her journal, she gathered her supplies and stuffed them into the pockets of her father's old tattered greatcoat. Excitement hurried her steps as she left the wooded area and began the two-mile trek homeward. She cupped the small plant with both hands, careful not to jar it as she walked. Mud squished under her worn half boots, and small animals skittered away as she moved quickly over the ground.

Barely through the back door of the Manor house, she came to an abrupt halt and called out, "Mrs. Potter! See what I found." She held her prize up for inspection.

The older woman, cook and housekeeper to the Claytons for many years, shook her mob-capped head. "Now look at the dirt ye be bringing tae me kitchen." She grimaced at the filthy boots tracking caked mud on the otherwise sparkling floor.

"I'm so sorry, Mrs. Potter, but look." Penelope shoved her spectacles further up her nose with a dirty finger and grinned. "A new specimen."

"Ach, lass, 'tis time to put playing in the mud away, and find yourself a braw man to give ya a houseful of bairns."

Penelope shook her head, causing her curls to tumble about her shoulders. "Not for me, Mrs. Potter. I'm very happy with my life just the way it is."

After placing her treasure on the table with instructions to Mrs. Potter to "guard it with her life," she hurried from the kitchen. Whipping around the corner, she almost ran smack into the butler, Malcolm, who guarded the door as if he expected hordes of visitors to descend upon them. Though he'd never had call to do that in the three years she'd resided in the rambling house.

"Malcolm, I've found a new specimen!"

The older man's soft brown eyes regarded her with affection. "Very good, miss. I'm sure it's an exciting discovery for you."

"Indeed it is." She fisted her skirts and raced up the stairs, her stocking-clad foot catching the bottom of her gown, tripping her.

"Be careful, miss." Malcolm's panicked voice reached her as she righted herself before she fell on her face.

She waved her response and continued down the corridor to her bedroom.

The bright yellow chamber cheered her. Flowery striped paper covered the walls, banishing the gloomy day outside. She crossed the room, her toes digging into the plush Brussels carpet as she padded closer to the fireplace, seeking its warmth. Shivering, she unbuttoned the front of her gown and slid it off her shoulders, down her body, to pool at her feet.

"Miss, you should have rung for me." Daisy, the young maid that she mostly forgot about, entered the room, her brows drawn into a frown. "Here now, let me help you."

"Daisy, I found a new specimen!"

"Isn't that wonderful, miss." Daisy knelt to remove her mistress's stockings. "And what does that mean?"

"It means I will study it, draw it, and send the information to the Linnean Society of London for recognition. Once they acknowledge it, the specimen will be classified and I will be listed as its discoverer." Free of her damp stockings, she studied her hands and headed to the pitcher of water and bowl on her dresser. "Of course, I can't use my real name, since women aren't permitted in the Society. So, once more, L. D. Farnsworth will have an exciting find to report."

"Well that's a shame, miss, since you do all the work."

Shrugging at life's unfairness, Penelope tried her best to scrub the dirt from under her fingernails. She really should try to remember to wear her garden gloves as her aunt had admonished numerous times. "But it's still impressive to know I am the discoverer, even if no one else does."

An hour later, Penelope sat in her father's old leather chair, next to the cozy fireplace. Rain pelted the library windows, the gusts beating it against the glass like so many needles. She pushed her spectacles up on her nose and scribbled, the journal balanced on her lap. Chewing her lip in concentration, she'd tucked one foot under her, the other tapping a cadence on the carpet. Flexing her cramped fingers, she reached for her teacup, hit the side and knocked it to the floor, spilling the liquid.

"Oh, drat." She leapt up just as the unusual sound of the front door knocker echoed in the room. A quick glance at the aged oak grandfather clock in the corner registered fifteen minutes past nine. They never had visitors at Gromley Manor, except for Aunt Phoebe, who always sent word weeks in advance of her arrival. Who in heaven's name would be at their front door?

She knelt to sop up the tea before Mrs. Potter saw it, dismissing the strange occurrence as most likely a lost traveler. Within minutes, Malcolm entered the library, holding a folded piece of paper. "Miss, there is a Miss Bloom at the door, who has arrived with a message from Lady Bellinghan."

She reached for the note. "Aunt Phoebe?" How odd.

"Please send for tea, Malcolm. I seem to have spilled mine, and I'm sure our guest could do with a cup."

The door opened and a middle aged woman, who had obviously traveled some distance, entered the room. Miss Bloom was pudgy, her wet brown curls clung to her forehead, and her cheeks were rosy either from natural color or the cold.

Penelope waved to the chair next to the fire. "Please have a seat so you may warm yourself, Miss Bloom. This is a nasty evening to be traveling."

"Thank you so much, miss. You are most kind." The woman sighed in relief as she sat and extended her hands toward the fire.

"I've sent for some tea. It should be here soon. While we wait, I will take a moment to read my aunt's note." She leaned back in the chair, unfolded the paper, and read-her horror growing as she skimmed the lines.

My Dearest Niece,

Once again I must relay my distress that you are buried so far from Town at such a young age. I know in the past you have dismissed my suggestions that you travel to London for a Season, but now I must insist upon it. I feel I would not be doing justice to my sister's memory by allowing her only child to rusticate in the country, faced with no more of a future than life as a spinster.

Your trustee, Lord Monroe, has agreed with me, so I have sent Miss Harriet Bloom. She is a sister to my lady's maid, and since Nanny is unable to travel any distance from your home, Miss Bloom will act as your companion and help you prepare for your journey.

Penelope swallowed several times, a knot forming in her chest. London? A Season? No, it was impossible. Attempting to calm herself, she directed the footman to place the tea on the low table in front of her. An array of delicate sandwiches and pastries filled the tray, along with a china teapot and cups and saucers. Penelope reached for the teapot, her mind in a whirl. How in heaven's name could she get out of this fix?

After pouring tea, the paper in her hand now shaking as she tried to quell her anxiety, she continued to read.

Since my health is not as it once was, I have sought the assistance of my longtime friend, Her Grace, the Duchess of Manchester, to assist you in your coming out. Her daughter, Lady Mary, is also making her debut this Season.

Please do not trouble yourself by traveling with a great deal of clothing, since your trustee has authorized the purchase of an entire new wardrobe.

I will expect you to present yourself to the duchess by week's end. Miss Bloom is in possession of the direction. Please arrange for a visit to my home once you've settled in. This is a great opportunity for you, Penelope, so be sure to show your best side to the duchess and her family.

Most Affectionately,

Lady Bellinghan

The paper fluttered to the carpet as she slumped in the chair. This would never do. When she had lived in America, her few prior attempts in Polite Society had been disastrous as her father had attempted to nudge her into Boston social life.

A distinguished member of the Boston Botanical Society, her father had dragged her to various dances, musicales, and other social events hosted by fellow members and their families. She'd passed those evenings aching for the security of her bedroom, with her books and papers strewn about.

After a few months of begging him to leave her at home, Father had conceded and gladly resumed their quiet evenings together filled with scientific discussions and games of chess in his library. Those were the happiest times of her life, but had ended abruptly when he had died in a carriage accident.

Her appointed guardian, Father's older brother, the Earl of Monroe, had insisted she leave Boston and take up residence in England. A widower with married daughters, he had been more than happy to leave her to her own devices at Gromley Manor, with an aging Nanny in attendance along with a full staff. Now, that comfort and security was to be snatched away. Once again she would be paraded before Polite Society to make a fool of herself.

She pushed her spectacles up on her nose, remembering how many times Aunt had impressed upon her that gentlemen did not like ladies who wore glasses and appeared smart. She'd oftentimes admonished her to leave off her spectacles in the presence of potential suitors.

Apparently, it was best to let men think they were stronger, more intelligent, and wiser than they really were. The entire pretense seemed foolish, and she really had no desire to be part of it. What she really did not long for, above all else, was a husband.

Just the thought of a man telling her where she could and could not go, with whom she could associate, but most of all, what she must not do to fill up her days, terrified her.

She crossed the room and stared out at the inky black night. The rain had changed to a soft mist, almost as if the sky had exhausted its tears. She ran her palm over the glass to clear the moisture away. Tomorrow she would leave this home that she had grown to love, to spend time with strangers, and be thrust into a life that caused nausea to roil in her belly.

* * *

After breakfast the next morning, Penelope threw on her pelisse and left the house, deep in thought. She kicked at a few stones in her path, meandering, immersed in thoughts of how unfair life was. Once again, she would be wrenched from her home and thrust into an unknown and unwelcome world. Instead of feeling excitement at what another young lady would thoroughly enjoy, she experienced nothing but dread.

If her father hadn't set his will to include a trustee until she either married or reached the age of five and twenty, she'd have control of her funds, her life, and her wishes. Instead, she had to bow to the commands of Lord Monroe and Aunt.

She came to an abrupt halt, her mouth agape in a most unladylike manner. In all the consternation at her upcoming forced social life, she had completely forgotten her new discovery. She could not leave it here. It would be necessary to pack the delicate plant very carefully and bring the treasure with her to London. Also her journals and botanical tomes. She must not leave those behind, either.

Goodness. She turned on her heel and sped to the house. What was she thinking? Instead of wallowing in self-pity over her obligatory presence in Town, she should be preparing for her trip as a true scientist. It would be necessary to wrap her specimen in wet towels for transport. And she'd need time to pack all her books and papers. She must hurry.

"Miss, your bags have been packed and stored on the carriage taking us to London." Miss Bloom stood at the back entrance to the Manor, her pelisse buttoned, and her bonnet securely tied beneath her ample chin.

"Not yet. There are things I must do." Penelope brushed past her companion, almost knocking the woman off her feet. "Oh, so sorry. I'll be right with you." She spoke over her shoulder, at first not noticing the maid standing before her, duster in her hand. The young girl, used to her mistress's manner, scooted out of the way in time to avoid a collision.

"Good morning, miss." The maid did a quick curtsy.

Penelope nodded as she hastened into the kitchen. "I've told you, Madeline, there is no need to curtsy to me."

"Yes, miss." The girl dipped again.

"Mrs. Potter, I need several wet cloths. Please bring them to the library." She grabbed a pastry from the table and headed back out, crumbs trailing as she walked.

"Where are you off tae now, lass? The carriage is waiting for ye."

"It will have to wait," Penelope shouted back, slamming the library door.

When she spotted the small plant in its place of honor on her escritoire, happiness filled her once again. Perhaps she would be viewed as a social failure, but she would have her science to return to when the Season ended.


A soft knock on the library door dragged Drake, the Duke of Manchester's, attention from a pile of bills. "Come in."

His mother peeked around the door. "Good morning, dear. Am I interrupting anything?"

"No, Mother, not at all." He indicated the assortment of papers in front of him. "Just stacks of invoices for my sisters' wardrobes." He leaned against the chair's soft leather as Mother settled on the edge of the seat in front of his desk.

"Tell me once again why Father allowed Abigail, Sybil, and Sarah to enjoy financially appalling Seasons, yet they remain unmarried." He tapped the pile of bills with his pen.

"You know why. We've always felt the best marriages were those of the heart. Your father and I had a love match and we wanted nothing less for all of you."

"Nonsense. Three sisters snubbing the Marriage Mart, and another one launching this Season." He eyed the jumble of notes. "And the bills."

"Are we short of funds, then?"

"Of course not." He rose and crossed his hands behind his back, walking to the window to stare out at the bleak morning. "I'm sorry if I sound cross, but I've yet to grow comfortable with the responsibility. Father was much too young to —"

"I know, dear. I feel the same way. I had expected to enjoy many more years with your father." The duchess fumbled in the pocket of her morning gown and produced a lace-edged handkerchief, touching the corner of her eye. "But we need to go on. It's been a year, and Mary must have her coming out."

He crossed his arms and leaned against the shelves of books, his thoughts then drifting to his eldest sister. "And how is Marion today?" She'd been withdrawn and unreachable since her husband died.

"I do so worry about her. She's the same as always. Quiet, calm, not quite there. I understand her melancholy, but it's been almost two years. She needs to rally herself."

He grunted. "There's the result of a love match. Tristan killed at sea in a battle with pirates, and my sister locked up in her room ever since-grieving."

The duchess studied him for a minute, sorrow clouding her still lovely face. "You're so wrong, my son. A love match is worth the pain and suffering one must endure. One day you will see for yourself."

He knelt before her and took her hand in his, not intending his remarks to cause her pain. "Perhaps for you and Father. Not so for myself. I will select a young lady on the Marriage Mart this Season who will suit as my duchess, based on her poise, charm, and ability to carry out her duties. Love will not be a factor."

"As much as I long for grandchildren, don't be hasty in your selection, dear. Marriage lasts a long time, and very few things in life can make you more miserable than an unhappy union. Goodness knows you've seen enough of them in the ton." She patted his cheek. "In any event, I have come to request a favor."


Excerpted from The Duke's Quandary by Callie Hutton, Erin Molta. Copyright © 2014 Callie Hutton. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Duke's Quandary 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
kronan1 More than 1 year ago
Cinderella marries the Prince......................................... Well he is really only a Duke.  She doesn't really clean up much around the house.  She is actually a brilliant  botanist.   He let's her know though that she married up and needs to keep on her toes.  She is an heiress, fairly nice looking and had brains to spare.  But still manages to have low self esteem.   It was a good story but the hero was a little to full of himself.
sharonrCA More than 1 year ago
** spoiler alert ** I was given The Duke's Quandry by the author in an ARC for an honest review. So here goes: This book started off slow, not that it didn't have a lot happening it did, but it took awhile for it to really build to the romantic part and when it did, well it was wonderful. The story features our heroine, Penelope, who is klutzy, wears glasses, a serious scientist/botanist, anti social but who has a good kind heart. She loves to play in the gardens and doesn't even notice the dirt. She is so very different from any other heroine in any other regency, in that she is all those things I mentioned but she is beautiful inside and out.  Now about our hero, who we met in the Elusive Wife, book #1 in this series, he is Drake and in book #1 he was an absolutely wonderful guy, not so in this story. In this story his father has died, he has 4 sisters and a mother to take care of. One sister refuses to leave her room because her husbands been lost at sea and so he decides he doesn't want love but he wants the perfectly cold and perfect wife. Why is he not into love? Well his mother was not the perfect wife and he wants a more obedient wife than his mother was to his father. The truth is he is a sole male in a family of strong and independant women and think he just wants one woman, his wife to take control of his sisters and one who listens to him. For most of the book Drake is a jerk. But the author is really good at making heroes terrible and then redeeming them and making you fall in love with them and she does that in this book superbly. So why was Drake terrible? well for one he keeps kissing Penelope, even while he is saying he wants the perfect wife who will never cause him any trouble and he wants a loveless marriage. Even when Penelope gets a marriage proposal from another man he still is thinking of marrying the perfect woman but not wanting he to be with anyone else. Then they end up getting engaged and then married and he makes her give up her science, makes her insecure and is harping on her changing. Everyone keeps telling him to stop but he doesn't listen. However he does love Penelope and the sex is fantastic and on the whole he does make her happy. Then when its time to prove who and what he is.....he surprised me, and he surprises Penelope and you will fall in love with him as he shows the world how much he loves and supports Penelope. What a great story, I truly loved it and when you close the book you will be smiling.
Anonymous 6 months ago
AnnieMarch26 10 months ago
Amusing regency story! I really enjoyed reading about an intelligent, socially inept woman finally finding love.
Chastel More than 1 year ago
*A very enjoyable read.. When a botanist meets a duke it's a rocky road to love.. The second book in an excellent series..
stanhope3234 More than 1 year ago
3.75* I enjoyed this story and the characters. They were all so charming. Penelope the awkward wallflower who spent most of her life far outside of society and Drake a Duke looking for the perfect woman to be his perfect Duchess. It was fun to read how these two people found what they never thought they wanted. The only draw back was I felt the Penelope could of been less wimpy and stand up for herself more. I'm looking forward to reading this next book in the series. I hope that Marion finds her HEA. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The female lead had no backbone to stand up for herself and cried at any adversity. It was just ok:-!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good reading. Easy & light to read. Good story line but easy to read when you can't sit & read for long periods.
TinaB0917 More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. I really enjoyed the heroine and her quirkiness! The duke tried very hard to stay stuffy and not fall in love with Penelope, but she is just so endearing! I love the secondary characters as well. I hope that all of his sisters get their stories as well.
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
It took a chapter or two for me to really get into the newest book from Callie Hutton, The Duke's Quandry, but once I did I was hooked! It was impossible not to love Penelope and Drake, even when Drake was at his most priggish and you wanted the smack him upside the head to make him see sense. Penelope's constant running into things and knocking things over, not to mention the ubiquitous dirt on her person, made it impossible not to love her. Though it does make Drake a little crazy.. Yeah, he's just a tad bit uptight. Not to mention nervous about living up to the example set by his father--at least, the father that exists in his memory. Fortunately, he has a mother, five sisters, and now Penelope to help him loosen up and set more realistic expectations for himself. Though of course it takes a while. Watching Penelope endear herself to Drake's family is marvelous, as is seeing him fight off his attraction to her. Naturally he's wildly unsuccessful, and at about three-quarters of the way through the event happens that everyone knows will occur from page one. I'm not going to tell you how it happens--you'll of course want to find out for yourself! Rest assured, though, that even as a new duchess, Penelope still has some awkwardly charming moments. The botanist aspect was extremely interesting--Penelope's enthusiasm for her passion is contagious. Her scientific mind also makes some interesting connections at unexpected times: "Has my mother spoken to you about what will happen tonight?" "Yes, but it wasn't necessary, since in my work with cross-breeding, I have discovered that in order to reproduce you must take two different species. Well, actually not different species per se, but--" She stopped when in one forward motion he pulled her into his arms and lowered his head. His kiss started slow but soon turned burning and needy. Loved it! All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Penelope and Drake's story. The first book in the series, The Elusive Wife, which tells the story of Drake's best friend Coventry's HEA (his wife was the speaker who caused the newly married Penelope such confusion in the excerpt above) has been in my TBR pile for a while now. It can definitely consider itself officially "moved up". Rating: 4 stars / B+ rating I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not well written. Did not like the hero at all. Overall a silly amateur attempt. Delete.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MelodyMay More than 1 year ago
Rating 4 1/2 stars  Today I finished The Duke's Quandary by Callie Hutton. This is the second book in The Marriage Mar Mayhem books. Boy there is mayhem. If you read the first book in the series The Elusive Wife, you would remember Drake. After all he's the Earl of Conventry's best friend. Now Drake is on the prowl for a wife and he believes he has found the perfect candidate for the Duchess of Manchester. Drake believes he has everything worked out until his mother drops the bombshell that she will also sponsoring another young lady. The young lady is a bit socially awkward. Miss Penelope Clayton would rather stay in the country and focus on scientific research than prance around London Society. However, her aunt has other plans and has inform Penelope that she must participate in a season and be a guest of the Duchess of Manchester.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Duke's Quandary, because you have Drake who is dead set on finding the perfect person to be the perfect Duchess. However, he has his mother who is trying to help him realize love is more important than obligation. While looking for the perfect bride he needs to keep an eye out on Penelope who seems to cause more trouble. I love Penelope, because she's just trying to make it through the season without making cake of herself. Yet, it just doesn't seem to workout for her.  At times I felt bad for Penelope for how the ton treated her and even Drake. While his family adore her, she still would see that she wasn't cutout to be part of society. She even tried to get back to countryside, but Drake is stubborn. Overall, a wonderful read about a bluestocking girl and a Duke set to find the perfection. Yet, stumbles into something better, but doesn't realize it. So, if this sounds like your kind of read, you might want to try The Duke's Quandary. Don't worry about reading the first book if this appeals to you, this can stand on its own.  Favorite Quote: Marriage lasts a long time, and very few things in life can make you more miserable than an unhappy union.  Copy provided by the publisher
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
THE DUKE'S QUANDARY by Callie Hutton is an delightful Regency Historical Romance set in 1814 England. #1 in the "Marriage Mart Mayhem" series, and what a beginning! Meet, Drake, Duke of Manchester and Miss Penelope Clayton. An enjoyable read with engaging characters, and an interesting storyline. If you had to choose between a perfect, society miss or an imperfect Duchess, which would you chose? Decisions, decisions! Penelope is awkward,social butterfly she is not, but a botanist and a bluestocking. But enter Drake, to help her become a social butterfly and beautiful debutante. Oh wait, he finds she is enchanting as well as irresistible. For Penelope goes from one mishap to another. Filled with witty banter, passion and the romance of a lifetime. You will not regret your choice to read "The Duke's Quandary". An enjoyable read! I enjoy this author's stories, and this was no exception. Received for an honest review. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
grandmareads102 More than 1 year ago
During the Season Drake, Duke of Manchester, is looking to marry. He wants a woman who will be the perfect duchess and a docile wife. He has everything planned. Then he meets Penelope Clayton, his houseguest. She is awkward and unsure socially but she is a brilliant woman and a very knowledgeable botanist. They are opposites. She is not what he wants but there is a powerful desire that rages between them. Circumstances force them to marry, but what does their future hold? Callie Hutton has written a wonderful romantic book. It is a perfect combination of colorful characters, sassy dialogue and a compelling, sexy romance. Penelope is a intelligent woman with a generous heart and a unquenchable spirit. She shines with inner beauty. I love her character. Drake is an honorable man who needs to let light and laughter into his life. Together they make me laugh and cry. This is such a skillfully crafted story. I wasn't able to stop reading The Duke's Quandary.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
The Duke's Quadary scored points just by using the word "quandary" in the title. It's a fun but awkward work and it suited this novel perfectly. Most of the book revolves around two fun (but awkward) people trying to navigate the haute ton to varying degrees of success. First we have Miss Penelope Clayton. She is a bit of a hermit, a future blue stocking, and set against marriage and all the restrictions it may impose. Then we have the Duke of Manchester, or Drake, who seems to have a stick so far up his butt most of the time that I'm not sure how he manages to sit without injuring himself. When you throw these two together, along with a houseful of unmarried sisters, and you have quite an interesting story. Callie Hutton does a good job of throwing some fun things their way, but they are drawn to each other no matter how hard they try to stay away. And no matter how many times they swear not to let anything happen, it does anyway. This was the biggest downfall of the story - their professions of un-love for each other, their promises to stay away and remain proper - got a little tiring and I think there could have been less of those conversations. I loved how Penelope was a scientist and it led to a very great sequence of scenes near the end that had me chuckling. Drake's sisters are all very dear and sweet and trying very hard to remove the stick from his butt - the perfect background characters to help push things along. Drake's mother is a sweet lady as well and maybe there will be stories of her finding great love matches for Drake's sisters as well. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
LoriH-6 More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I have read by this author and I really enjoyed it. It was a quick read that kept my interest. The character development for me was a real focus because I will admit I wasn't a fan of the hero/heroine at first. I thought the hero wasn't real bright throughout the first half of the book. The heroine was somewhat childlike and so clumsy it was rather unbelievable at first. However the book really picked up, for me, about midway and I couldn't put it down. I really liked the hero's friend, Joseph. He added some extra spice to the hero/heroine's lives which helped them realize what they really wanted in their relationship. Another thing I really liked about Callie's writing was the secondary characters. The hero's family was wonderful and I enjoyed the added scenes with them in it. I also enjoyed the fact that this author could write a good book with little to no cussing and kept the love scenes relatively clean.
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
This is book 2 in the Marriage Mart Mayhem series. Miss Penelope Clayton's guardian is forcing her to participate in the Season to find a husband. She would much rather stay at her country home to study the local plant life and continue her life science. In town, she is staying with the Duke of Manchester's family and being launched with one of the Duke's sisters. Drake, the Duke of Manchester, is searching the marriage mart for the perfect wife and it is definitely not going to be the clumsy, bluestocking that is staying at him home. But then why is she always on his mind and he can't seem to keep his hands and lips off of her. Can Penelope change Drake's definition of a perfect wife? I LOVED this story. I loved that Penelope wasn't the perfect "Lady" and yet the Duke still fell in love with her. Drake was a knucklehead at times with what his vision of the perfect Duchess, but he totally redeemed himself with a spectacular ending! I fell in love with Drake's family. His sisters and mother were the perfect secondary characters. They had me wanting to see how their stories would end. I'm really hoping that each of Drake's sisters gets their own story. I have definitely found an author who will be filling my bookshelf. Thanks go out to Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Anlenhart1 More than 1 year ago
This is a enjoyable story that pairs Drake, a duke who wants the perfect society wife with Penelope a socially awkward botanist. Drake is arrogant lord who has grown up in a loving but chaotic family. Penelope loves plants and has kept up her fathers study of plants while avoiding society.  They meet when Penelope's aunt asked Drakes mother to sponsor her for her season in London. They eventually become engaged and marry. Much of the tension in the second half  is between Drake's request that Penelope give up science and her continued pursuit of her dream. This provided conflict but puzzled me because it contradicted the hero's growth into a lovable husband.  That aside, it was a fun read and an entertaining story. I received an arc copy for an honest review. 
gigiluvsbooks More than 1 year ago
London 1814... Drake, Duke of Manchester is searching the Marriage Mart for a perfect bride. He wants a woman who is poised, sophisticated, and worthy of the title Duchess. But most of all, he wants a woman who does not want the useless emotion of love.  Socially awkward Miss Penelope Clayton isn't meant for marriage. A serious botanist, she has no desire to wed, so being forced by her guardian to participate in the Season to find a husband is torture. She'll never fit in with the ton, especially if they discover she's been pretending to be a man within the scientific community.  As Drake's family makes over Penelope, turning her from naive bluestocking to enchanting debutante, he is put upon to introduce her to society and eligible bachelors. Despite dance lessons and new gowns, Penelope is the opposite of poised and sophisticated as she stumbles from one mishap to the next. Why then, does he find it so hard to resist her? Review: This is the first story I have read by Callie Hutton and I can say it will not be my last! It was an entertaining, fast paced historical with humor, drama and some sexy thrown all into a great package. I loved the attention to detail and the feel the author gave to the story to make you feel as if you were in 1814, England.  The chemistry between the hero and heroine was almost instantaneous, but I like that they both fought their feelings. Penelope is such a smart character and even though she is socially awkward she tries her hardest not to embarrass herself and the family that is hosting her for the season.  I so enjoyed that she is smart and Botanist, though not acceptable for a women at the time, she hides her identity by using a man's name when submitting her findings.  Her story is so much a Cinderella story, but with book smarts.  I really felt for Penelope when those women were being cruel to her, I wanted to smack them around for treating her so badly. Drake has become the Duke of Manchester at an early age and as such he is putting too much pressure on himself to be the perfect Duke.  To go along with him being the perfect Duke he decides this is the season to find his "Perfect" Duchess.  It takes him quite a while to realize that what he needs is not perfection but someone to brighten him and make not stuffy and there is no one better for that than Penelope. I thoroughly enjoyed this story that made laugh and cry at different points, excellent job making your characters come alive. 4 Stars 
MichelleMcLean More than 1 year ago
This was one of those “stay up until the wee hours” books because I just didn’t want to put it down. The romance between Drake and Penelope was beyond sweet and their chemistry together was steamy hot! And I really loved that while they had some issues to work out, there were no “easily resolved with one conversation” moments that kept them apart. We got to see them get together and stay that way while they worked on things. It was a refreshing change from most romances.  I also really loved Drake. He was a bit aggravating with his delusional expectations, but even when forced into a situation he didn’t think he wanted, he was never intentionally unkind to Penelope, and was even happy about most aspects of their predicament. In so many romances, the hero is cruel and unkind, even if there are good reasons for it beneath it all. But Drake, while a little too tied to his expectations and societal upbringing, is at the heart of it a good, kind man. I loved seeing him and Penelope fall in love and find their happily ever after.
mtgranma More than 1 year ago
Drake, Duke of Manchester, had to take over his duties sooner then what he had planned. He decided to look for a wife this Season to fulfill the duties as Dutchess. He wasn't interested in love. This gave his character a cold hearted feeling at first. The responsibilities of being Duke so early and trying to see that his unmarried sisters found husbands this Season were making him forget how to relax and have fun and love. Penelope Clayton, a woman Botanist, not acceptable officially in that time, was sent by her aunt to attend the Season balls and find a husband. Penelope, just wanted to stay in the country and dig in the dirt and find new plants. She did not want a husband or love either. She seemed to get very nervous and clumsy around high society and especially when around Drake. Every time the Duke and Penelope were around each other things would happen that neither of them understood. Was the Drake trying to protect Penelope or was it a deeper feeling, he didn't want to have that was making him think of her all of the time. Would feelings they both didn't want end up throwing them together or would they separate them for good. I really enjoyed this second book in this series. I could feel Penelope's insecurity with being in high fashion formal society and her just wanting to be back in the country in her own comfort zone working outside with her plants. The story held my attention and made me laugh and I couldn't put it down.
WorldsCollide More than 1 year ago
A sweet, enjoyable, lovely romance, The Duke's Quandary was a wonderful read. I really liked this book. It was a delightful historical romance. Penelope was a lovely heroine. She was very kind and a genuinely likable character. She was extremely clumsy and never seemed to say the right thing in Society. But, she faced all the gossip and snide comments with more strength and dignity than any of the debutantes could hope for. My only problem is that I wish she would have stood up to Drake more when he got too bossy about being a "proper duchess." But, overall, I really liked her. Drake was good. He was very sweet and protective of his family. Most of the time, he was kind, sweet, and rather adorable. However, sometimes, I wanted to whack him upside the head for being an idiot. His whole obsession with "the perfect duchess" was frustrating and a bit baffling. I did't understand why he was so set on it, especially because his own mother was an unconventional duchess who enjoyed a love match and was still dearly loved by her family. It was annoying, to say the least. But, it did't bother me too much. So, I still ended up liking him, particularly because he did a brilliant job redeeming himself in the end. Overall, I thought he was great. The romance was lovely. Despite Drake's issues, they were sweet together. They were perfectly matched, despite their reluctance to admit it. And, the chemistry between them was hot. Definitely some sensuous scenes in store. The plot was well paced and I was hooked the entire way through. The story was so sweet and lovely and I really enjoyed it. And, the ending was perfect. The Duke's Quandary was a wonderful historical romance. I really liked this book. It was a sweet, delightful, enjoyable read. Romance lovers, this is a book worth checking out. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
2_PMVH More than 1 year ago
I was totally HONORED and HUMBLED by Callie Hutton with an advance copy of her upcoming new release THE DUKE'S QUANDARY, the second book in THE MARRIAGE MART MAYHEM series. It was a hero and heroine who could not be more different from each other. Penelope Clayton is a plant crazy, klutzy, glass wearing, muddy hem, nervous and shy woman who has been living by herself with her plants for 3 years after the death of her father. The hero is Drake who is the Duke of Manchester. He is a serious, stuffy and loves his family of crazy women. He has an energetic, loving and easygoing mom. He also has 4 unmarried sisters, Abigail, twins Sybil and Sarah and baby Mary and another sister Marion who has been her room for 2 years grieving for lost at sea hubby. Drake has been trying to fill his father's huge shoes and feel his is failing. He thinks if he married the "Prefect Duchess" that he will be able to fill those shoes easier. THIS IS HOW P MET D; Drake and his family are at the front door as a great wind enters followed by Penelope. She has her hair half up and down, dirt on her face, glasses falling down her nose, a pelisse missed buttoned and is clutching a wrapped up plant with dirt falling on the floor. She sees everyone, whips off her glasses, curtsied and threw her hand and dirt out and says, "How do you do?" Then she freaks out and flees. Drake chases and catches her down the street and in that one moment his embraced her tender heart and his heart could not let her go. This story has so many elements that make it AWESOME LOVE STORY!! Here are just a few of those elements, a perfect Lady Daphne, evil Lady Sirey, klutzy moments, super hot kisses, hilarious klutzy scenes, heart melting love, a compromised situation, semi-forced marriage, fire extinguisher worthy scenes. I give this book my highest rating of 5 fingers up and 10 toes!! I also warn readers to stock up on fire extinguishers before reading this book!!