by Megan Frampton
Series: Dukes Behaving Badly #2.5
Pub. Date: Nov. 10, 2015
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Source: Publisher / Edelweiss
In this Dukes Behaving Badly holiday novella, a young lady entertains a sudden proposal of marriage—to a man she’s only just met...
What does a lady do when a man she’s never seen before offers his hand in marriage? Lady Sophronia Bettesford doesn’t scream and run away. Instead, she accepts the shocking proposition. After all, what’s her other choice? To live with her cousin, caring for six children and a barnyard full of chickens?
James Archer has roamed the world, determined never to settle down. He’s faced danger and disaster…he fears nothing and no one—except his mother and her matchmaking ways. So when ordered to attend a Christmastime house party filled with holiday cheer and simpering young misses, he produces—a fiancée!
Sophronia and James vow to pretend to be in love for one month. But when they promise to give each other a Christmas kiss, it becomes clear that this pact made out of necessity might just be turning into love.
I have just loved this whole series, each book has been fun and light-hearted and put me in a good mood. This novella was the perfect length to read over my lunch break and make me a little happier for the rest of the work day. Plus, this is the most "Christmasy" holiday book I have read yet so it really got me ready for the for the festivities to come.
Similar to the other females in the Dukes Behaving Badly series, Sophronia is a down-on-her-luck lady. Although she loved her wordsmith father dearly, he has passed away without providing for her future. This leads to Sophy being thrust on a widower cousin, who is excited to have her care for his 6 children and 27 chickens! Sophy was a delight - I loved her alliteration and linguistic musings. It was nice to see her reaching out for her own happiness as well, even when she thought it would only be temporary.
James suffers from wanderlust and is always off on exotic trips to procure artifacts and treasures... but he also has a marriage-minded mama who despairs for him to settle down. James loves and dotes on his mother, but he has no desire to tie himself to one woman or place. This leads James to a somewhat reckless fake marriage proposal to a complete stranger, our vocabularily-gifted Sophronia. In exchange for posing as his betrothed, James will rescue Sophy from a life of poultry and provide enough funds for her to purchase a country cottage.
Fate seemed to be playing a part the day James encountered Sophy at the coaching inn, because what follows is a sweet and fun love story with lots of holiday cheer. The story had great secondary characters, particularly Mrs. Archer, James' mother. I had a great picture of this somewhat cooky older woman bragging over her son and his love of "arty facts" and the like. This book can be read as a standalone if you want to get in the holiday mood, as there is no character crossover from the earlier books in the series.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Avon through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
About the Authorwrites historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.
Sophronia gazed down into her glass of ale and repeated the word, even though she was only talking to herself. “Poultry.”
It didn’t sound any better the second time she said it, either.
The letter from her cousin had detailed all of the delights waiting for her when she arrived—taking care of her cousin’s six children (his wife had died, perhaps of exhaustion), overseeing the various village celebrations including, her cousin informed her with no little enthusiasm, the annual Tribute to the Hay, which was apparently the highlight of the year, and taking care of the chickens.
All twenty-seven of them.
Not to mention she would be arriving just before Christmas, which meant gifts and merriment and conviviality. Those weren’t bad things, of course, it was just that celebrating the season was just about the last thing she wanted to do.
Well, perhaps after taking care of the chickens.
The holidays used to be one of her favorite times of year—she and her father both loved playing holiday games, especially ones like Charades or Dictionary.
Even though he was the word expert in the family, eventually she had been able to fool him with her Dictionary definitions, and there was nothing so wonderful at seeing his dumbstruck expression when she revealed that no, he had not guessed the correct definition.
He was always so proud of her for that, for being able to keep up with him and his linguistic interests.
And now nobody would care that she was inordinately clever at making up definitions for words she’d never heard of.
She gave herself a mental shake, since she’d promised not to become maudlin. Especially at this time of the year.
She glanced around the barroom she was sitting in, taking note of the other occupants. Like the inn itself, they were plain but tidy. Like she was, as well, even if her clothing had started out, many years ago, as grander than theirs.
Dukes Behaving Badly
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