Bestselling author Valerie Bowman sets the stage in Regency England for her Playful Brides series, where couples' misadventures on the way to the altar are witty, romantic romps based on some of the world's most beloved plays. The eleventh book in the series, No Other Duke But You, is inspired by William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE
Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her witand perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause...
Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville...since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her...
Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?
The Playful Brides novels are:
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Read an Excerpt
London, June 1827
Twenty-two-year-old Lady Delilah Montebank peered around the corner of the servants' staircase while her friends smuggled a small potted tree, an armload of paper moss, and a set of fake donkey ears down the back steps of her mother's town house.
"J'adore the donkey ears," she whispered, glancing over her shoulder to check for witnesses. Her chin brushed against the ruffles of her pink gown. "Shh. We cannot let Mother hear."
Her friends, Owen Monroe, the Earl of Moreland, Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley, and Derek Hunt, the Duke of Claringdon, all dutifully slipped out the back door, their arms full, without making a sound.
"Merci beaucoup," she whispered to Derek, as his boots crunched the gravel on the way to his coach. "Please tell Lucy I'll see her tomorrow." She waved at the duke.
Derek inclined his head by way of reply.
Delilah turned and let out a deep breath. She'd been skittish all morning, hoping her mother wouldn't find her friends smuggling the decorations for the play out of her bedchamber. But Mother hadn't discovered them. Job well done.
Delilah was about to close the door behind her when a small red squirrel dashed inside. The squirrel sprinted down the corridor toward the front of the house.
Delilah winced. She may have met this squirrel before. She may have fed it, which meant she may be responsible for its entrance into her home. And if Mother or Cook saw it first, the poor little animal would be doomed.
Delilah hiked up her skirts and took off after the squirrel. The rodent dashed back and forth down the corridor, leaping left and right, heading directly for the front of the house as if he knew the layout. Mother was in the front drawing room receiving visitors. The door to the gold salon was open. She might see the squirrel dash past. Of course, Delilah knew this because she'd thoroughly researched her mother's whereabouts before telling her friends to proceed with smuggling things out the back door.
The squirrel was already in the foyer by the time Delilah caught up to it. It paused and looked about. Delilah paused too, holding her breath. She stood panting and waiting, her skirts still hiked above her stockinged ankles. Mother's voice drifted from the salon. Delilah swallowed, her eyes darting to the side.
The squirrel dashed across the marble floor and ran under a rosewood table, the same rosewood table that housed the expensive crystal bowl in which visitors left their calling cards. The same crystal bowl Mother was excessively proud of.
Mother's voiced drifted from the salon again. She was saying good-bye to someone, which meant she was about to emerge from the room. Delilah didn't have much time. She expelled a breath and eyed the squirrel warily. It sat under the table, sniffing the air and swishing its bushy tail. Delilah had no choice. Time was of the essence. She dove for the squirrel, catching her slipper in the hem of her skirt and ripping it, upending the table, and smashing the crystal bowl. She landed in an ignominious heap amid the jumble, her hands closed around the squirrel's tiny, furry body.
A shadow fell across her, and she hoisted herself up on one elbow to turn and look at the straight-backed figure looming behind her.
"Um, bon jour, Mère. I mean, Mother." Her mother disliked it when she called her Mère. Delilah's use of French — specifically, her poor use of French — drove her mother to distraction.
Her mother's dark, imperial eyebrow lifted. The frown on her face was both unmistakable and omnipresent. The Earl of Hilton stood to her right, an irritated smile on his smug face.
"She takes after her father, doesn't she?" He eyed Delilah down his haughty, straight nose. "Clumsy."
Lord Hilton had supposedly been Papa's closest friend. Ever since Papa died over ten years ago, the man had been hovering about Mother. Delilah had suspected for a while now that they were courting. He and his hideous son, Clarence, had begun coming around more and more of late. Delilah guessed they were interested in money, and unfortunately, her mother had a great deal of it. Her uncle was the earl now, but Papa had provided generously for both her and her mother's future.
Mother lifted her chin, her lips pursed. It was never good when her lips pursed. "This creature looks like my daughter, but I'm not certain I wish to claim her at the moment."
Delilah scrambled to her feet. Her hair had come out of the topknot and a large swath of it covered one eye and half of her mouth. Her grip still tight on the squirming squirrel, she tried to blow the hair away from her face, but the swath simply lifted momentarily and fell back into place.
Mary and Rose, the housemaids, had already begun cleaning up the mess she'd made. "I'm awfully sorry," Delilah said to them. They glanced at her, both offering sympathetic smiles. She'd been friends with them for an age, and they knew she was about to get a tongue lashing from her mother.
Mother's gaze fell to the squirrel, and she gave a long-suffering sigh. "What in heaven's name have you got there?" The countess's nostrils flared slightly as she glared at the squirrel as if it were a rabid rat.
Delilah clutched the little animal to her chest. "L'écureuil," she announced, hoping the word for squirrel sounded more acceptable in French. Most things sounded more acceptable in French.
Her mother turned sharply toward the front door. "I am going to see Lord Hilton out. I'll give you five minutes to dispose of that thing and meet me in the salon. I need to speak with you." She whisked her burgundy skirts in the direction of the front door.
Delilah glanced about. The front door was the closest exit. She rushed past Mother and Lord Hilton to reach the door before they did as Goodfellow, the butler, opened it. She hurried out into the spring air and glanced around. The park was across the street. It would be the best place for the squirrel. She watched for carriages and then dashed across the muddy roadway and into the park, where she found a spot in the grass to carefully release the animal. "Take care, Monsieur Écureuil," she said, as she leaned down and gently opened her palms against the soft, green grass.
She watched the squirrel scramble away to safety before she turned and rushed back across the road, further muddying her skirts in the process. Mon Dieu. Just another thing for Mother to disapprove of.
By the time Delilah reached the foyer again with a ripped, stained hem, she was breathing heavily and her coiffure had become even more unwieldy. At least the Earl of Hilton was gone. She quickly flipped the unruly swath of hair over her shoulder. Best to pretend as if she couldn't see it. She rushed into the salon and stopped short to stand at attention in front of her mother, who was seated, stiff-backed and imperious, like a queen upon a throne.
Mother eyed her up and down before shaking her head disapprovingly. "Take a seat."
Delilah lowered herself to the chair that faced her mother's. She'd learned long ago that if she kept her eyes downcast and nodded obediently, these sorts of talks were over much more quickly. Too bad she didn't have it in her to do either. "About the squirrel, I —"
"I do not wish to speak about the squirrel." Her mother's lips were tight.
"About the vase and the table, I —"
Mother's eyes were shards of blue ice. "I do not wish to speak about the vase or the table."
Poor Mère. She would have been beautiful if she weren't always so angry. Usually with Delilah. Her mother's blond hair held subtle streaks of white, her eyes so blue they would have been heavenly if they weren't so hard. She had a perfect, patrician nose and lines around her mouth no doubt caused by years of frowning at her only child.
Delilah looked nothing like her. Lord Hilton was correct. Delilah took after her father. She had Papa's dark brown hair and matching eyes. A butter stamp, they'd called her, meaning she looked exactly like him. Delilah was of medium height while her mother was petite. Delilah was exuberant and talked far too loudly and far too much, while her mother was always calm and reserved. Delilah was a failure on the marriage mart, while her mother (even at her advanced age of three and forty) had a score of suitors. Hilton was the most aggressive, and her mother's obvious favorite.
Delilah's mind raced. If Mother didn't want to chastise her about the vase, the table, or the squirrel, what could she possibly — Delilah winced. "Is it about the donkey ears?"
Mother's eyes widened slightly with alarm. "Donkey ears?"
Oh, dear. Now was probably not the best time to tell Mother she'd been rehearsing a play for charity. The woman rarely approved of anything Delilah did, and joining the outrageous Duchess of Claringdon, Lucy Hunt, in a production of a play was certain to be another in a long list of things Mother disapproved of, even if they were performing Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"Never mind," Delilah said in as nonchalant a voice as she could muster.
Mother delivered another long-suffering sigh. She touched one fingertip to each of her temples. "I don't even want to know what you meant by that. But no, it's not about any of those things." Her mother's hands returned to settle motionless in her lap.
Delilah watched with awe. She'd never been able to master the art of sitting perfectly still. She also hadn't mastered the arts of speaking fluent French, being patient, pouring tea without spilling it, keeping her clothing clean and rip-free, or any of a number of other things she'd tried. All of her shortcomings were a source of unending shame to her mother.
Delilah pressed her lips together, but she couldn't keep her slipper from tapping the floor. When would she learn it was always better to allow Mother to speak first? The conversation tended to be less incriminating that way. "What would you like to speak to me about, Mother?" she forced herself to ask in the primmest voice she could muster. Mother had always valued primness.
Mother straightened her shoulders and pursed her lips. "It's about your marriage."
A sinking feeling started in Delilah's chest and made its way to the bottom of her belly, where it sat, making her feel as if she'd swallowed a tiny anvil. She'd known this day would come, known it for years, but she had merely hoped it wouldn't arrive quite so ... soon.
"You'll be three and twenty next month," Mother continued.
A fact. "Yes, Mother."
"That is far beyond the age a respectable young woman should take a husband."
That depended upon what one considered respectable, didn't it? It also depended on whether one's goal was respectability. "Yes, Mother."
"You've spent the last five Seasons running about with the Duchess of Claringdon, playing matchmaker for other young ladies."
True. "Yes, Mother." Delilah managed to stop her foot from tapping, but her toes continued to wiggle in her slipper.
"You don't seem to have given so much as a thought to your own match."
Also true. "Yes, Mother." Was it her fault if it was much more diverting to find matches for other people than to worry about a courtship for herself? When she was a girl, she'd looked forward to being courted by handsome gentlemen. But that had been years ago, before she'd grown up to be entirely unmatchable. She'd always known she would have to try to make her own match eventually, however. Someday. Apparently Mother's patience was at an end.
"I daresay your friendship with Huntley hasn't been a good influence. He also refuses to make a match. And he's a duke, for heaven's sake. He'll need an heir someday."
Delilah winced. It was never good when Mother mentioned Thomas. The two could barely stand each other. "Thomas doesn't exactly believe in marriage."
"Yes, well, you'd better start believing in it." Mother's highly judgmental eyebrow arched again. "This is your sixth Season, and it's nearly over."
Yes, but who was counting? And why did Mother have to pronounce the word sixth as if it were blasphemy? She sounded like a snake hissing.
"I insist you secure an engagement this year," Mother continued. "If you do not, I shall be forced to ensure one is made for you."
Delilah shot from her chair. "No! Mother!" Her fists clenched at her sides.
Mother's brow lifted yet again, and she eyed her daughter scornfully until Delilah lowered herself back into her seat. She managed to unclench her fists, but her foot resumed the tapping.
Mother pursed her lips. "You fancy yourself the ton's matchmaker, my dear. It's high time you made your own match."
Delilah took a deep breath and blew it out. Then she took another one for good measure. Aunt Willie had taught her that little trick when dealing with her mother. How Aunt Willie and Aunt Lenore, her cousin Daphne's mother, had grown up with Mother and been so different, so happy and nice and pleasant, Delilah would never know. The three sisters couldn't have been more dissimilar.
After the third steadying breath, Delilah forced herself to think. Marriage. Very well. This was actually happening. She would have to make a match by the end of the Season. She gulped. Next month.
"Of course, you'll have to find someone who is willing to put up with your ..." Her mother eyed her up and down again. "Eccentricities. But there are plenty of young men of the Quality who are in need of a hefty dowry. I suggest you set your sights on one of them."
Delilah blinked back tears. She refused to let her mother see her cry. She hadn't allowed it since she'd been a girl. When Papa died. That was when Mother had informed her that crying was for people who had no control over their emotions, something Delilah had always struggled with. Her emotions tended to immediately register on her face. That was one of the many reasons she had always been a terrible disappointment to her mother.
But Delilah had always intended to make a good match. She had. She'd merely been ... distracted. Why, together, she and Lucy had made splendid matches for all of Delilah's friends. Lady Eleanor Rothschild, Lady Clara Pennington, and Lady Anna Maxwell. Those young ladies had made their debuts with Delilah, and one by one they'd been married off to charming, handsome, titled gentlemen of the aristocracy ... in love matches, no less.
"Don't misunderstand me," Mother continued, passing a hand over her perfectly pressed skirts. "I don't expect you to make the match of the Season."
Delilah blinked. "The match of the Season?" Surely, her mother didn't mean —
"I've heard the Duke of Branville is looking for a bride this year."
Drat. That's exactly who her mother meant. And it was true. The Duke of Branville had long been the most coveted bachelor on the marriage mart. Until this year, he hadn't shown an interest in finding a bride. She and Lucy had already spent the better part of the Season avidly discussing his prospects. It was one of their favorite pastimes actually. "Yes," she murmured in response to her mother. "The Duke of Branville is certainly eligible."
Her mother's lip curled. "As I said, I've no expectation that you could secure an offer from the likes of Branville, for heaven's sake. No. I think someone a bit more, ahem, reasonable would be best." She sat up even straighter if that were possible. "To that end, I already have chosen someone for you."
Delilah's stomach performed a somersault. "Who?" Cold dread clutched at her middle.
"Clarence, of course."
Delilah's jaw dropped and her brows snapped together. "Clarence ... Hilton?"
Her mother directed her gaze skyward for a moment. "Of course, Clarence Hilton, who else?"
"Oh, Mother, no!" Delilah couldn't help the disdain in her voice. "I'm certain I can do better than Clarence Hilton."
"Oh, really?" Mother drawled, crossing her arms over her chest and regarding Delilah down the length of her nose.
"Yes, really." Delilah nodded vigorously. She'd rather marry a good-natured goat than Clarence Hilton. The man was portly, smelly, and rarely spoke, and when he did, he had nothing interesting to say.
"Very well." Mother stood from her seat and made her way toward the door. "I'll give you until your birthday to secure a better offer."
Delilah clenched her jaw. Her mother didn't think much of her. She certainly didn't think Delilah was capable of attracting a worthwhile suitor, and she obviously didn't think Delilah could attract anyone better than Clarence Hilton.
Anger bubbled in Delilah's chest. Normally, she did her best to keep it at bay. Anger was an emotion, after all. But sometimes, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't stop such thoughts from throbbing in her brain. She was a butter stamp of her father in more ways than one, and the current way involved being madly stubborn and ridiculously determined once she set her sights upon something.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "No Other Duke But You"
Copyright © 2019 June Third Enterprises, LLC..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I’ve read many of the titles in this series, although not the last handful, and it doesn’t mean you can’t pick up this series at any point. Bowman’s ability to set the world and create characters that are easily introduced and develop before your eyes helps the reader to quickly see what is going on and pulls you in. Here we have childhood friends Delilah and Thomas: perfectly suited to one another and utterly in synch. The only problem with this is Thomas’ inability to tell Delilah just how he feels, and her inability to see what EVERYONE else does – that they are actually in love with one another and the two are perfectly suited. And it is easy for readers to see it too – he’s everything that Delilah claims to want – but she’s obsessed with another, far less perfect for her man – and that’s all she can see. While she’s been busy with her matchmaking, Delilah hasn’t really focused on her own wish to marry, but with her mother pushing an ultimatum forward, Delilah has to move and move now, just to get what she thinks she wants. A mis-sent potion, plenty of twists, some ridiculous conclusions and Thomas finally finding the words and the courage to speak up and tell Delilah exactly how he feels – and…. Oh this was fun – characters popping in and out repeatedly, hijinks, communication and miscommunication, tons of twists, turns and lots of laughs – all as hearts throb for Thomas in the hopes that Delilah will see sense, and wondering just how blatantly he has to dance in front of her for her to see him as he is – perfect for her and not just as a friend who can (and does) often anticipate her every desire. This book manages to bring all of the good things in friends to lovers romance stories and blended it with the sense and feel of a Regency romance that doesn’t fall into the ‘damsel in distress’ trap – but allows us to see the true match that is between them. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Slightly silly plot but also very sweet and romantic. If you are a fan of the series, this is a great conclusion to wrap it up. Delilah and Thomas are playful, fun characters.
The plot for No Other Duke But You was simple. Delilah had to marry within two months or get married to someone her mother picked out. This is a storyline that I have seen used over and over again. The author was able to freshen it up with memorable characters. Which I loved!! The other major plotline was an interesting one. Thomas wanted Delilah to realize that she loved him. So, he decided to woo her. He also decided that she was going to use the potion on him. It was interesting to me because I hadn’t seen this done with a man before. So, it was interesting to see what a guy would have to go through to make the object of his affection fall for him. I liked it. I loved Delilah. I connected with her on a personal level. I am that type of girl who drops food on my clothes, stumbles when I walk, and always says the wrong thing at the wrong time. I could see myself being besties with her. Her love of French, animals, Shakespeare, and pink roses were made a focal point in the book. What I didn’t like was her lack of self-esteem. Her interactions with that woman who birthed her (I refuse to call her a mother) hurt my heart. I loved Thomas too. He couldn’t have been more perfect for Delilah. I could tell how he felt about her before this book. Ladies, listen up. How Thomas treated Delilah is how every woman should be treated. He loved her, faults and all. He supported her, even when she told him that she was trying to land a husband by her birthday. Of course, Thomas did have his issues. But, his issues were not the focus of the book. The author made it a point of letting the readers know that he turned himself around. Delilah’s mother, I couldn’t stand. I have never disliked a fictional character more than I hated her. Everything she said to Delilah was disgusting. All I have to say is karma is a bitch, and she got hers at the end of the book. I also would like to mention Lord Hilton’s son, Clarence. I felt terrible for him. It seemed like he was being used by his father like Delilah was being used by her mother. The couple of scenes he was in, I got a strong depression vibe from him. I mean, he stayed locked up in the house all day, with no personal interactions (other than the servants). His actions at the dinner only furthered that opinion. No Other Duke But You was a perfect fit in the historical romance genre. The author did a fantastic job of keeping within the era it takes place. From the way the characters dressed to how they talked, it was a fit. I loved that this book was a friend to lover romance. I liked that the author had the male in love with the female, instead of the other way around. It made for a refreshing read. The sexual tension and chemistry were kept on the back burner until the middle of the book. The sparks started when Thomas and Delilah kissed. It stayed at sparks until they made out at the park. Then the sparks turned into flames. I liked that the author had Delilah and Thomas’s sexual experiences towards the end of the book. If it had happened sooner, I fell that it would have taken away from the plotline. So, it was perfect the way it happened. What I also liked was that Thomas was a virgin. I haven’t read a book where the main characters were both virgins. It made the sex scenes more poignant and sweet. The end of No Other Duke But You was nothing short of amazing. I can’t get into what happened. All I will say is that it couldn’t be written better. I had tears in my eyes the entire last chapter, a
Truly a joyful piece of fluff! Sometimes you just need to read something fun and this book did the trick for me! It put a smile on my face during the entire read! I thoroughly enjoyed the characters even Miss Adeline. My first but not last book by this author! LORRAINE
save your money.
Rating: 3.5 stars I struggled a bit with the star rating on this one, because there are some mechanics type issues with the writing that made me want to say 3 stars, but it also gave me SO MANY FEELS (I laughed out loud at least once and cried more than once) which made me want to rate it at least 4 stars... I ended up settling on a rating of 3.5 stars. This is such a fluffy read, but also made my heart hurt. Thomas is such a cinnamon roll and I love him forever and a day. (Also, virgin hero alert!) I liked Delilah less, mostly because she's just SUCH a mess and that seemed to really be her defining characteristic, along with being stubborn and so focused on her goal that she doesn't see anything else. But then I also felt for her and her terrible relationship with her mother, so... 5 stars for Thomas, and like 3 for Delilah, but together their relationship is the BEST friends to lovers story ever! It's so fitting that the characters are putting on a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream because it really reflects to relationship dynamic in this book. Rebecca wants Thomas, Thomas loves Delilah, Delilah wants Branville, Emmaline wants Branville, and who KNOWS who Brandville likes! It's rather madcap and hilarious, and if you like the antics in A Midsummer Night's Dream, you'll love No Other Duke But You. This is the 11th book in the Playful Brides series, but can be read as a stand alone. There are a lot of couples from earlier books in the series that make an appearance in this book, but nothing that keeps you from reading this one and understanding it all without reading the previous book. Beware the EXTENSIVE cast of side characters that are couples from the previous books, though!
Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause...Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her… This was an inventive story on how a man can move from the friend zone in an era when the term didn’t exist. In these types of stories, usually it’s the female with the unrequited love. It was a nice change of pace to have it the other way around. I really enjoyed this story and the characters, Delilah’s quirky nature in particular. I recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
I've been following along with the Playful Brides series since book 7 and despite not reading the earlier books (yet), I felt like No Other Duke But You was the perfect way to end the series on a high note. If you've read any of the previous books, you may recognize a few familiar faces returning in this one as the spirited Delilah, young matchmaker extraordinaire, finally finds her match. I loved the nod to the previous books while not wrapping the story up in their history so you can read No Other Duke But You as a standalone. But what I REALLY loved was the parallels between this book and A Midsummer Night's Dream which is, by far, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. As the characters prepare to perform said play in the book, their lives mimic its acts one by one and make the book somewhat of a lighthearted comedy. Delilah made sure of this. She's spunky. Society's restrictions don't quite work for her and she doesn't let them get in her way. The mention of her assortment of rescued animals combined with her ability to make a mess of any situation provided more than enough humor, while her caring heart and loyalty to those around her ensured that I wanted her to find her true love. Who happened to be in her life all along! I'm a sucker for best friends to lovers and No Other Duke But You is exactly that. Thomas has known Delilah (and all her quirks) for years, and waited for the right time to tell her how he felt. Now that the time has come, he's getting mixed up with just as many matchmaking schemes as Delilah! I loved that the gentlemen tried their hand at getting the couple together just as much as Delilah's friends. As for the romance? It was, well, sweet. There was definitely some heat involved but I felt like their emotional connection was stronger than their physical one so it became a bigger player in their interactions. I think my main issue with the romance was Thomas. He kept waiting and waiting to say something, to make a decision, that everything went off the rails a number of times and caused more drama than the story really needed. But otherwise I enjoyed it. No Other Duke But You was a quick read, one I went through in one sitting, and while I'll likely will remember it for the nod to A Midsummer Night's Dream, I wouldn't necessarily say it's a standout romance because it does rely on cliches. That said. . . I happen to like somewhat cliche romances because they can be fun reads and exactly what I'm looking for. I had my ups and downs with the previous books I've read but overall from these 5, I have to say I'd recommend the Playful Brides books, and have every intention of going back and reading the first few myself!
Lady Delilah Montebank has been successful at finding matches for her friends but remains unmatched and "on the shelf" at 23. Her mother insists Delilah find herself a match, or she will choose someone for her. So, what does our intrepid matchmaker do but claim she will secure a match with the most coveted bachelor of the Season! Thomas, Duke of Huntley, has known Delilah many years and watched her matchmaking skills. He tells everyone he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life, but that's just a smokescreen. The one person he wants to commit to for life is Delilah. Thomas has "patience in spades" and is waiting for Delilah to see he's the one for her. I really liked Thomas but he needed the patience of Job to deal with Delilah. I wanted her to open her eyes and see the love in front of her but, unfortunately, she had to learn everything the hard way. I also didn't understand why she tried so hard to please her mother, who was a really nasty piece of work. I cheered when she finally stood up to her! While I haven't read the other books in the series, No Other Duke but You read well as a standalone; although many characters from previous installments figure in this one. I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
London - June 1827 Lady Delilah Montebank, age 22, is watching while her friends smuggle some things out of her house to be used in a play she is producing with her friend, Lucy Hunt, the Duchess of Claringdon, and a woman of whom her mother disapproves. They plan to perform Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night Dream. Delilah’s mother is a widow and she is determined that Delilah, now in her sixth season, will marry. She demands that Delilah become engaged this year or her mother will arrange an engagement for her. The woman is suggesting that she marry the odious Clarence Hilton, heir to an earldom. Instead, Delilah bravely tells her mother that she intends to secure an offer from the elusive Duke of Branville. When Delilah tells her friends that she has her eye on the Duke of Branville, she learns that Lady Emmaline Rochester, a lovely young woman, also has set her eye on him. Thomas Hobbs, the Duke of Huntley, took over his title at the young age of 18 when his father passed away. He is responsible for his sister, Lavinia, age 32. During the time since he gained the title, he has increased the estate’s profits immensely. Now his sister, Lavinia has decided she wants to marry and wants Thomas to find her a husband. While the woman is lovely, she is simply a shrew. So, Thomas will ask Delilah and Lucy for their help in finding a husband for Lavinia. The two young woman have already done that for many of their friends. Oh, but Thomas has loved Delilah forever. How can he hope to win her love in return? The story goes on to include Delilah purchasing a love potion to get the man she wants to love her in return. There is much-ado about the play as well. Will the right people find each other? Oh dear. There is just too much going on in this book. A Shakespeare play, love potions, he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not, etc. It comes across as silly and I must say I’m quite disappointed. However, the author writes good books and I’m hoping her next one will be better. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman Playful Brides #11 Lady Delilah Montebbank has been so busy finding matches for friends that she hasn’t taken the time to find one for herself so when her less than kind mother tells her, “this year or else,” she states her intentions of becoming engaged to the catch of the season. How hard can it be and who cares if all the matches she has made already were “love matches” and hers will not be? In the midst of Delilah’s scheming and her mother’s negativity and her friend Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley realizing HE is the one who should be with Delilah a play is being put together for charity. Appearances by couples in previous couples in the series are made, a love match is made and a side match is made by Thomas’s sister who also gets her HEA. I have to say that Delilah seemed a bit “fluffy” and not very down to earth with her dropping of French words here and there and immature in what she thought would work for herself in regard to marriage. Her mother was worse than Cinderella’s stepmother so perhaps that impacted her in more ways than one. Thomas was a nice guy but he was a bit slow in stating his intentions and almost missed out. The story was light and frothy and included a love potions and ended up being a friends of ten years moving into lovers story with a HEA. Did I like this book? Not as much as some others in the series but it was enjoyable Will I read more by this author? Probably. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC – this is my honest review. 3-4 Stars
I really enjoyed Delilah and Thomas's story! They have been best friends for many years, but what Delilah doesn't know is that Thomas is in love with her. When she finally decides to consider marriage, Delilah has her eye on another. Thomas isn't about to let Delilah get away but he must figure out a way to let her know about his feelings without ruining their friendship. Can Thomas convince Delilah that she is the one for him? I really enjoyed this latest addition to the Playful brides series. We have watched Delilah grow up throughout the series and it was nice to see her get her HEA!! I'm hopefully that Bowman is not done with this series as I have throughly enjoyed it!
Delilah and Thomas are best friends in No Other Duke but You by Valerie Bowman, book eleven, and the final book in her Playful Brides series, uses Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as a play put on by the story’s characters as well as part of the plot. Delilah Montebank is a spirited young lady who is constantly belittled and berated by her mother, undermining her confidence. Her mother has given Delilah an ultimatum to obtain an offer of marriage by her birthday or her mother will marry her off to the unpleasant heir to an earldom and son of the man mother is hoping to marry. Delilah is unconventional and lacks social graces, but she has a heart of gold as well as good intentions. To counter her mother’s threat she unfortunately blurts out that she has set her sights on the catch of the season, the Duke of Branville. Since Delilah and her friend Lady Lucy Hunt have been successfully matchmaking for many of their friends she firmly believes that getting this match should not be a problem. Thomas Hobbs, the Duke of Huntley, has been Delilah’s best male friend for many years. He has kept himself off the market as the only woman he wants, and secretly loves, is Delilah. Thomas has taken care of his family holdings, his mother and sisters since the death of his father. One major obligation Thomas still has is to arrange a marriage for his overbearing, egotistical older sister Lavina. Thomas agrees to help Delilah only if she and Lucy will find a match for his sister. He might agree to help Delilah find another man but he will work behind the scenes to find a way for Delilah to see him as her perfect match and believe that he is her one, true love. After all, who but Thomas understands Delilah and accepts her as she is. While all of this is all happening, Delilah and her friends are trying to put on a play, for charity. Knowing that Delilah’s mother would totally disapprove of such behavior, even for charity, this group of friends needs to accomplish all in secret. Like the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, there are plans being made for romance and matchmaking that follows much of the play. People make plans for their perfect match only to ensnare the wrong person. There is even a love potion, mirroring the one in the play. It is a comedy of errors, to borrow the title of another Shakespeare’s plays. The adventures are humorous, laugh out loud funny, and yet sometime heartbreaking. Ms. Bowman wrote a charming, clever, entertaining and amusing story that is not to be missed. She provided a tale rich with humorous escapades, amusing banter, sexual chemistry and endearing characters giving Delilah and Thomas true love, happiness, and a future together. I highly recommend No Other Duke but You to other readers. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
A reenactment of A Midsummer Nights Dream begins to reflect the reality of lovelorn couple, Lady Delilah Montebank and Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley. Lady Delilah most marry in a months time or be subjected to an odious match of her spiteful mothers choosing, while self professed bachelor, Lord Thomas now must find a way to convince Lady Delilah that the perfect match has been by her side the whole time. Through many missteps and miscommunication … and the help of many friends, these two manage to find the love that was with them the whole time. Only having read the novella before this in the Playful Bride series, I was able to fully enjoy the book on its own, but could appreciate how the ensemble cast of characters would be a treat to any who have completed the entire series. An enjoyable romance to be had by new and returning fans. No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman is due to release April 30, 2019. I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. #NoOtherDukeButYou #NetGalley
I really had a hard time getting into this plot and involved with the two main characters. The antagonist was strong, hated the mother and how she treated her daughter, but other than that I found it hard to stay interested in this book. I’m not sure why I didn’t particularly connect with the plot or what it was about the characters that I didn’t like, but this wasn’t my favorite Bowman book. The Duke of Huntley has loved her since they were kids, she is utterly unaware of his feelings or that they should get together as a couple till near the end. She was very ignorant, and maybe that is why I didn’t particularly like her as the female lead; how could she not see what was right in front of her? He didn’t hide his affection towards her. He, also, waited for her, never had any dalliances while away at college, never kept a mistress, and in that era I found that hard to believe. I think if they were both ignorant of the love they had for each other would have added some tension to the budding relationship. I think if she had to chase him a little or get very close to losing him for good, that would have also added to the story and made it more interesting. Overall, I didn’t like this story, I don’t think it is a bad story, I just didn’t connect with it at all. If you have read a lot of Valerie Bowman, then you will probably enjoy this one, they are two characters that have been around for a while, but this one just wasn’t for me.
Fun way to end the series, I really enjoyed and recommend this story. Lady Delilah, the matchmaker, and Lord Thomas, confirmed bachelor and a duke, are destined to be together, but neither realizes it. With some Shakespearean magic through acting in a play, these friends think they are playing parts while matchmaking others, but find themselves together, a potion of eye drops seems to be key, but they deny the attraction though it has always existed. Farcical adventures and matchmaking mishaps make this a delightful romance to read! **received a review ARC from netgalley
This was an entertaining, well-written book. Lady Delilah Montebank has a plan to win the Duke of Branville, but her friend, Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks it's ridiculous when she barely knows the Duke of Branville. Things get mixed up, and with Lady Delilah Montebank's hobby of matchmaking for other ladies she knows, there's no predicting what will happen! I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more books by this author.
I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book. It’s bittersweet to be reading the last book in a series. It’s the last time one gets to read about characters one has come to know in previous books. Thomas is an all around nice guy which I found refreshing in a hero. Delilah is quirky. At times I found her to be too naive and gullible. There are some scenes that show how well Delilah and Thomas know each other. I was happy to see This couple come together at the end. This was a fun read and I’m really sad to see this series come to an end.
No Other Duke But You is a wonderful story filled with energy and fun. Delilah’s mother has finally reached the end of her patience with her daughter and gives her until her birthday (two weeks) to find a husband. The alternative is to marry the man her mother chooses (not Prince Charming), who just happens to be the son of Mother’s betrothed. Since Delilah and her friend Lucy are great matchmakers, she sure she will find a suitor before time runs out. Now the fun begins. When in a hurry for romance and all else fails, what is one to do? One acquires a love potion. That will do it, won’t it? Loveable characters (except Delilah’s Mother, she makes mean girls look sweet) win your heart and draw you into this delicious romp. Delilah is vivacious and adorable, kind, caring, and a little quirky. Thomas, who is now the Duke of Huntley, is strong, handsome, patient (to a fault), kind, and protective. He and Delilah grew up as friends. They are perfect for each other, if only he and their friends could convince Delilah. I enjoyed this story from the moment Delilah chased the squirrel through the house right to the end. I happily recommend it. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is voluntary.
I loved this book! This book does include people from the other books in the series. I have read a few of the other books in the series but I didn't feel like I needed to read them all in order to read this book. The story about Delilah and Thomas was so delightful to read about. They had been friends since childhood and Delilah was too busy playing matchmaker to realize that Thomas loved her. She was such a funny character and I loved her impulsiveness and determination to make the “match of the season” for herself. Thomas was so patient with her and her friends’ schemes. He was such loyal, steadfast hero. The book was well written and easy to read. I am definitely going to read the rest of the series!
If you are looking for a light-hearted comical read, this might be the book for you. For me, it fell a little short and leaned more toward the Monty Python version of funny than it does toward the Harry Met Sally version. I liked both of the main characters, but she was very immature (more like 13 than 23) and he was just so milquetoast… I did like him much better than her. Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, became a duke at the age of 17. He’d been enjoying his years at school, but immediately gave up his schooling to learn all he could about running his dukedom. He wanted to become a man of whom his father could be proud, but his lack of formal schooling always bothered him. He’d educated himself – probably better than those who actually finished university – but he always felt inferior in that area. His one champion and saving grace during all of those years – especially the earliest of them – was his very best friend, Lady Delilah Montebank. Thomas has always loved Delilah, but fears letting her know because she sees him as only a friend and he doesn’t want to do anything that will spoil that friendship. So, he spends time with her, supports her and loves her. However, to avoid her and her friend’s matchmaking, he tells them he isn’t ready to take a bride. He’ll just bide his time until Delilah decides it is time for her to marry and then he’ll – somehow – convince her to choose him. Delilah’s mother is a nasty piece of work and I would have loved to see something nasty happen to her. Yes – I’m bloodthirsty! It is what would have been Delilah’s sixth season if she were actually attending ton events and looking for a husband. Then, Delilah’s mother confronts her and tells her she will either find a husband by her birthday – in a month – or she’ll have to marry the man her mother has chosen – and he is a real toad. So, Delilah blurts out that she’s chosen her man and she’s sure she’ll be betrothed before her birthday – to the Duke of Branville – who doesn’t even know she exists. Thomas certainly never expected that development! Now, it is the gentlemen versus the ladies trying to arrange a love match between Delilah and Thomas. Enter a love potion – yes, a love potion – a Roma perfume maker – a talking bird – a Shakespeare play and much more and you have a lively, if immature and improbable, romp. I also have to agree with many other reviewers who have said that the first half of the book is much better than the second half. Once the love potion comes into play, it really goes off the deep end. This was a good story and I enjoyed it – even though the heroine annoyed me with her immaturity and her willingness to upset so many other lives by using a love potion on a man who clearly didn’t want her. So, it was a nice read, but I wouldn’t read it a second time. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A one-eyed cat, a male parrot named Miss Adeline and a love potion gone awry. The misadventures in matchmaking for of a group of young ladies of the ton. Lady Delilah Montebank and Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley have been friends for a long time. Lady Delilah has a deadline imposed by her evil mother. Thomas needs to convince her that the reason he has never married is because he has always had his eye on Delilah. Madam Rosa supplies Delilah with the Elixir of Cupid and its application does not go as planned. Shenanigans ensue. The ending is a large wedding attended by all their friends.
I have been in love with Valere Bowman’s work for a while. I am drawn to her writing, her characters, and the relationships of romance and friendship that she creates. Least to say, I’m a huge fan of her work. No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman is the adorable tale of Delilah and Thomas. I met them in previous books in the Playful Brides series, but getting to know them now was a lot of fun. First, Delilah is one of my favorites. She is kind and filled with so much heart. You can’t help but want to be her friend and listen to everything she has to say. I really connected to her, to her dreams, and the longing for true love? Perfect. I adored Thomas. He is the boy next door that everyone wants to fall for. And a Duke at that? Definitely can’t beat that. But beyond this story being another love story, it was also filled with a fun plot and characters that were easy to relate to. I wasn’t a fan of the idea of a love potion, but the crazy road to realize that it didn’t work was insane. I think the pacing moved quickly enough, that I didn’t even realize time had passed. It was easy to read and I really appreciated that. Sometimes, as a reader, there are books that you just really want to get lost in and lose the track of time with. And this was definitely it. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and hope there will be more in the series. *Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.*
I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. No Other Duke But You is the Eleventh and final book in Valerie Bowmans Playful Brides Series. It can be read as a stand-alone, you will meet many of the couples from the previous books in this book and I did enjoy reading all of them. Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley has been in love with Lady Delilah Montebank for as long as he can remember. He’s been patiently waiting for her to realize that he is more than her best friend and love him back, so he gets a little desperate when Delilah announces that she intends to marry and that he is not the one she has chosen. During the course of the story Delilah, Thomas and their friends are mounting a charitable performance of A Midsummers Nights Dream and the twists and turns of their story begin to resemble the play with mismatched matchmaking and love potions gone awry. A fun read. Mild to Medium steam. Publishing Date April 30, 2019 #NetGalley #NoOtherDukeButYou #StMartinsPress #ValerieBowman