To Marry the Duke

To Marry the Duke


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My dear sister Clara,

London society is so much more complicated than I could ever have known! Every night is a different ball or assembly, and a different swirl of glittering jewels and rustling gowns. Though I fear I am making social blunders left and right I am having some measure of success in my (or rather, Mother's) objective. Mother is beside herself with glee at the attentions I have been receiving from a few gentlemen she finds supremely suitable as husband material.

But my dearest sister, it is so hard for me to even look at any gentleman but a certain duke, who, if I may confess, makes my heart beat so that I fear it can be seen across a ballroom. He is James Langdon, the Duke of Wentworth, and though I may sound dramatic, he makes me feel as no man ever has before.

But I must push these feelings away. I sometimes hear whispers about his dark past, and he is quietly called the Dangerous Duke. Oh Clara! I am secretly overjoyed that he may love me, and at the same time terrified of his attentions. I have waited so long for my true love, and now I must resist him to protect my heart.

If only I knew how to proceed…

Your devoted sister,

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061754258
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: The American Heiress Series , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 120,188
File size: 503 KB

About the Author

Julianne MacLean fell in love with some of the classic romances—Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice—while completing her degree in English literature. Then she decided that she needed a "real job," but after a brief stint as a government auditor, she realized she just didn't care enough about numbers matching up. So a month before her wedding, she sat down and wrote the first paragraph of a romance. Now fifteen years, a husband, and a daughter later, Julianne is a happy, fulfilled, stay-at-home mom and a devoted romance writer.

Read an Excerpt

To Marry the Duke

Chapter One

The London Season, 1881

With a sigh of resignation, Sophia Wilson realized she had unwittingly hurled herself not only across an ocean to London, but from a sizzling-hot frying pan into a fierce and fiery blaze. She was about to enter the Marriage Mart.

She moved with her mother into the crowded London drawing room, elegantly adorned with silk tapestries and bouquets of roses tied with ribbons, and a host of other useless knickknacks skillfully arranged to make perfect idleness the only option. Squeezing her fan tightly in her gloved fist, she prepared herself—after a month of intense English etiquette training—for the introduction to the earl and countess of something-or-other, then dutifully smiled her best smile.

"That wasn't so terrible, was it?" her mother whispered afterward, assessing the room as she spoke. Sophia could almost hear her mother's thoughts aloud as she formulated the evening's strategy: An earl here ... a marquess there ...

The weight of Sophia's responsibility hung over her then, like an iron chandelier dangling from a single screw, ready to drop at any moment. She was an American heiress, and she was here in London to ensure her family's acceptance into high society back home and ultimately change their lives forever. She was here to marry an English lord.

At least, that was what she had promised her mother when escape had become her only hope. For Sophia had turned down four proposals in the past year—very good ones, in her mother's frequently professed opinion—and her mother had begun to bang her head against the wall. The lastgentleman had been a Peabody, and good gracious, a Wilson marrying a Peabody would have been a coup like no other. It would have secured an invitation to the Patriarch's Balls. Mrs. Astor—the Mrs. Astor—might even have paid the bourgeois Wilsons a call. The high-society matriarch would have hated it, of course.

All this marital desperation because Sophia's family was one of many new families to try to break into the impenetrable old New York society. Arrivistes, they were called. The nouveaux riches. They knew what they were, and they all wanted in.

Sophia gazed despondently at the hordes of strangers in the room, listened distractedly to the cool, reserved English laughter, if one could call it laughter. Her sisters certainly wouldn't.

She sighed, reminding herself how important it was to find a man she could love before the end of the Season. She had made a deal with her mother so the poor woman wouldn't make herself ill again. The only way her mother would let Sophia off the hook regarding the Peabody proposal—without having an "episode" and calling the doctor again—was with the promise of a bigger fish. Since bigger fish were found exclusively in London—bigger fish with titles, no less—here they were.

Sophia only hoped she could find a romantic fish, a handsome fish, a fish who would love her for herself, not her money.

"Allow me to present my daughter, Miss Sophia Wilson," her mother said as she introduced her to a group of ladies, each with daughters of their own by their sides.

For a moment, the Englishwomen were silent as they took in her appearance—her Worth gown, her emerald-cut diamond pendant, her diamond-cluster drop earrings. None of the English girls wore such extravagant jewels, and they gazed at her with envious looks on their faces. Sophia felt suddenly like a fish herself—very much out of her familiar waters.

"You're from America?" one of the women said at last, flicking open her fan and fluttering it in front of her face, waiting somewhat impatiently for Sophia's reply.

"Yes, from New York. We're guests of the Countess of Lansdowne."

The countess, as it happened, was also American, and in New York, she was known as one of the very best "social godmothers." She had married the Earl of Lansdowne three years previous and had somehow managed to fit into London society as if she had been born and raised here. The Wilsons had known Florence in New York before she had married the earl. Florence, too, had been on the outside looking in, had received the cold shoulder one too many times, and now took great pleasure in thumbing her nose back at those same high-nosed Knickerbockers. She secured her revenge by assisting the so-called upstarts, like Sophia and her mother, up the long and often slippery social ladder, and sending the families home to New York with impressive English titles in their bursting beaded reticules.

"Yes, we're familiar with the countess," the taciturn Englishwoman replied, exchanging a knowing nod with her companions.

No more was said, and Sophia did her best to smile, the evening suddenly stretching before her like a long, monotonous road with carriages halted and lined up for miles.

At that moment, a hush fell over the room, followed by a few scattered whispers: It's the duke ... Is it the duke? ... My word, it is the duke. All heads turned toward the door.

The majordomo's deep, booming voice announced, "His Grace, the Duke of Wentworth."

As Sophia waited for the duke's entrance, her American opinions about equality bucked in her head. Duke or ditch digger, he's still just a man.

She rose up on her toes to see over people's heads and get a peek at the highest-ranking peer in the room, but leaned back when one of the young English girls in her group whispered in her ear: "Avoid him if you can, unless you want to marry into a nightmare."

Sophia faced the girl, who paled and took a step back, discouraging any further conversation . . .

To Marry the Duke. Copyright © by Julianne MacLean. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are Saying About This

Jo Beverley

“TO MARRY THE DUKE sparkles with life and emotion. Julianne MacLean is a delightful new voice in the genre.”

Cathy Maxwell

“TO MARRY THE DUKE is a light, lively read brimming with incredible passion.”

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To Marry the Duke 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first novel by Julianne MacLean I bought via B & N. I really enjoyed the book ¿To Marry The Duke¿. I didn¿t know what to expect with this new author as she has a limited history ¿ only 2 or 3 contemporary novels before this one. Fortunately, I was really pleased once I was done with the story. I liked that this story was grounded in historical facts ¿ there was a period in time ¿ late 1800¿s to early 1900¿s ¿ when nouveaux riche American girls went abroad to Europe to land themselves husbands with titles ¿ Duke, Earl, Marquis, Viscount, Baron etc. to give their family necessary clout back home. That was the only way the old rich would accept them. This book used this history to create a story line between the American Sophia and distinguished British Duke James Langdon. I liked that the main character Sophia was not only beautiful, educated and rich but, more importantly, she was warm, friendly, enjoyable, funny and comfortable with who she was as a person. Her parents and siblings were solid people and that helped round her out as well. James on the other hand came with a family of secrets and coldness that only one such as Sophia could thaw over time. James and Sophia saw in one another things they desperately wanted ¿ acceptance, love, passion and security ¿ and only through time and effort would they get there. It took some serious effort and events to get James and some of his family to warm up but, once they did it was worth it. Although there were times you felt like smacking James along the side of the head to wake definitely could understand his need to stand back and stay aloof as he made his reasons clear ¿ it made sense when often it does not in stories. The author made you understand the man so, you didn¿t dislike him for his distance. Sophia never ran away and bolted as so many heroines do in tough times¿..instead she took what she was given and fought for more. Her beauty of spirit shined through all the time. Very appealing. The love scenes were tasteful, the banter back and forth solid and the story line flowed nicely. No odd love scenes or trivial monologues. The side characters of Sophia¿s sisters and mother and James sister, mother and friend all helped to round out an interesting cast. This author is very talented with the pen and really wove a warm and dynamic story line. This book was memorable. I recommend you buy it, read it and keep. I plan to buy other stories by this author too. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
To Marry the Duke is a scintillating, sensual story about a devishly handsome damaged hero with the potential to be either very good or very bad. When he meets the beautiful American heiress who has set her sights on him, he's driven to depths of passion and despair beyond his wildest dreams. This is a wonderfully paced, tightly packed story that pulls you in and won't let go. With excellent writing, wonderfully descriptive scenes and a potent sensual story, Ms. MacLean's writing gets better and better with each new book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kudos to Julianne MacLean on her Avon debut. I stood about as much of a chance of resisting the 'Dangerous Duke' as Sophie did, it seems. And Sophie herself was a memorable heroine and one I rooted for wholeheartedly. Thanks for keeping me up late with a fabulous read, not to mention leaving me anticipating the other sisters' stories....
Guest More than 1 year ago
No wonder this book is selling like hotcakes! TO MARRY THE DUKE is fabulous! My eyes are red and gritty from reading too long - I just could not put it down! The sexual awareness sizzles between the beautiful American heiress, Sophia, and her impoverished English duke, James, throughout their courtship. But the real love story begins once they return from their honeymoon. Can the warm-hearted, generous Sophia break through her husband's frosty aristocratic reserve to find true love? Or did he really marry her for her dowry? An emotional and deeply satisfying read!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1881 at the urging of her mother nouveau riche American heiress Sophia Wilson comes to London to marry a title. Sophia hates shopping for a spouse as she has rejected proposals back home because she wants to marry for love. She believes she may have found her love when she meets the ¿unacceptable Duke¿ James Langdon.

Needing money, James is also attracted to Sophia, so he courts her. However, he vows to himself to never fall in love with her for fear he would become as out of control and abusive as his father was. James and Sophia marry and share a wonderful honeymoon. However when they reach his estate, James turns into a prim and proper aristocrat, who deserts his wife when he is not mistreating her with cold scorn. Still Sophia thinks she can reach her spouse that she loves.

When the tale focuses on the lead characters¿ relationship, even with James¿ incredulous alteration from avoidance to near worship, fans obtain a strong late Victorian romance. When the story line switches to continental suspense, it loses some of its ¿American invasion¿ momentum. In her debut, Julianne MacLean keeps her plot fresh due to the antics of the dysfunctional Langdon family that bewilder the heroine.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
aromagik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
3 1/2 stars. Good and worth reading but somewhat predictable and not exceptional. I found myself skimming through part of it because it felt a lot like other books I've read.
Neverwithoutabook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lot of historical romances are basically the same. Just expanded versions of the boy-meets-girl formula and set in historical times. That being said, I found this book bright and refreshing. Yes we do have the historical setting, and as the title implies, the plan is to marry a Duke. Our heroine, however, is no blushing young maid, but instead is a strong, forthright and independent American daughter of a working class background whose family has made it big in America. Being rich, however, doesn't automatically give one entrance into American society and therein lies the reason Sophia has come to have a 'season' in London Society. How she handles the oh so proper London Society, and her new family make this a fun and enjoyable read. I particularly appreciated the perspective of Sophia's Dangerous Duke which added depth to the story. If you're a die-hard romance fan, give this one a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just not good. Another adversarial relationship until the last chapter. Disappointing.
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Highly Recommend!!!!
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