When the Duchess Said Yes
by Isabella Bradford
Book #2 in the Wylder Sisters series
Published September 25th 2012 by Ballantine Books
The romantic escapades of the irrepressible Wylder sisters continue in Isabella Bradford’s fun, charming, and breathtakingly passionate series—as the wildest of the Wylders turns an arranged marriage into a game of desire to tame a wayward duke. Notorious for her free-spirited antics, Lady Elizabeth Wylder revels in attention—but not the sort that leaves her humiliated when her future husband, the Duke of Hawkesworth, fails to appear for their much-anticipated first introduction. So when a chance encounter leads to a sizzling kiss with a dangerously handsome stranger, she nearly succumbs. The shock of finally meeting her betrothed only to come face to face with her rakish would-be seducer inspires fury—and fans the flames of a fire that both Lizzie and the Duke acknowledge is a most agreeable way to start a marriage. In her husband’s arms, Lizzie knows she has found love. But is the passion that accompanies endless nights of erotic discovery enough to persuade a duke whose scandalous lineage and lifestyle prevent him from giving his heart completely?
Lizzie Wylder finds out that her father also arranged a marriage for her prior to his death. She's betrothed to the Duke of Hawkesworth, called Hawke, who must marry her before she turns 19 years of age or he will lose his fortune in accordance with his deceased father's directive. Hawke is doing some very serious foot dragging as he has no interest in the English lifestyle and plans to return to his beloved Naples, Italy once he's married and produced an heir. That is until he is dazzled by the free-spirited Lizzie.
I really liked the first book in this series and loved this one. Lizzie is much more daring than her sister Charlotte, who has transformed into the perfect Duchess, conforming to the traditions of English society. Lizzie, being the middle child, doesn't feel the pressure of the need to conform and finds herself succumbing to Hawke's scandalous behaviors. Though he rudely avoided meeting Lizzie for the first time, Hawke quickly changed his tune when he realized she was the young woman he had encountered at the opera and who mesmerized him. The two of them proceed on a pretty risky path before they finally make it to the altar. Their relationship is passionate and delightful, both of them being really interesting characters.
I wondered for a time where the conflict would rise and it does indeed come from Hawke whose only frame of reference for marriage is his parents' union, which was fairly dismal. Hawke still has the notion that in time, his passion and love for Lizzie will fade and he'll eventually set up a separate household for himself in Naples, complete with a mistress. Lizzie's realization of her husband's views is heartbreaking and Hawke's transformation was painful. This aspect of the story was gripping and I felt the anguish of both.
This was a really good story and surpassed the first book in this series. The pace is perfect and the characters are very nicely developed. I am really enjoying the Wylder sisters.
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)