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Book CoverC2’s review of One Dance with a Duke (Stud Club Trilogy, Book 1) by Tessa Dare.
Historical romance published by Ballantine 25 May 10

There Lady Amelia D’Orsay was – daydreaming about her plans for summer at her family’s country cottage while listening with half an ear to the latest gossip – when, across a crowded ballroom, she sees him. You may be asking, “Who? Her perfect man? Her dream lover?” Oh no, faithful reader, nothing so lovely and romantic…Lady Amelia spotted the man who can potentially ruin her brother’s life. And she has some things she wants to say to him.
Spencer Dumarque, Duke of Morland, is a member of the Stud Club *snicker* – a group of gentlemen that all own shares of a famous retired race horse. He has not hidden the fact that he wants to own all the shares – and isn’t above unscrupulous behavior to reach that goal.

Spencer hates attending balls. He can force himself to attend briefly, favoring one of the Season’s beauties with a dance at midnight, but then he’s gone. Imagine his surprise when, just as he is about to ask his choice of partner to dance, a young woman appears in front of him and grabs his hand. He has no choice but to dance with her, unless he wants to cause a scandal.

As they begin to waltz, Amelia tells Spencer that she knows her brother owes him a great deal of money and asks him to forgive the debt. He refuses. Not the most auspicious start to a courtship, is it? Still, they must continue dancing and a banter of sorts begins between them. Spencer finds himself unwillingly intrigued by his dance partner. And so does Amelia.

Suddenly, Spencer sweeps her out of the ballroom and into the garden – literally picks her up and carries her out. And not for any sort of romantic entanglement – he just needed to leave the room. Immediately. While they are in the garden, two other members of the club arrive with the news that the club’s founder has been killed – and Spencer is told he is a suspect because he has been so openly in pursuit of the horse. Since the founder, the Marquess of Harcliffe, and his sister grew up near Amelia, she insists on accompanying them to inform Lady Lily of her brother’s death.

Leaving the ball so abruptly with Spencer and spending the rest of the night in the company of men could spell doom for Amelia’s reputation. Spencer, having recently been reminded that life is short, realizes that he is in need of an heir and, therefore, a wife. Also, he has a young ward who will be making her debut into society in a few years and she needs some female guidance. He convinces Amelia to marry him by making her see all the advantages of the situation – she will have her own home, she will receive a monetary settlement that will improve her family’s situation, and she will have children. They marry and head off to one of his country estates.

I enjoy the courtship-after-marriage storyline, I have to say. It seems more real somehow. The couple is sharing a home; they are forced to spend a good bit of time together for the sake of appearances, if nothing else. Feelings can develop easily. The relationship between Spencer and Amelia develops in a lovely fashion. Neither one is interested in falling in love but, as they get to know each other, they just can’t help it.

The mystery of the death of the club’s founder will continue through the rest of the series, I’m guessing. So get in on the ground floor and pick up One Dance with a Duke. It is a lovely, sweet read.

CSquareds C2 IconGrade: B+

True temptation begins at midnight…

A handsome and reclusive horse breeder, Spencer Dumarque, the fourth Duke of Morland, is a member of the exclusive Stud Club, an organization so select it has only ten members — yet membership is attainable to anyone with luck. And Spencer has plenty of it, along with an obsession with a prize horse, a dark secret, and, now, a reputation as the dashing “Duke of Midnight.” Each evening he selects one lady for a breathtaking midnight waltz. But none of the women catch his interest, and nobody ever bests the duke — until Lady Amelia d’Orsay tries her luck.

In a moment of desperation, the unconventional beauty claims the duke’s dance and unwittingly steals his heart. When Amelia demands that Spencer forgive her scapegrace brother’s debts, she never imagines that her game of wits and words will lead to breathless passion and a steamy proposal. Still, Spencer is a man of mystery, perhaps connected to the shocking murder of the Stud Club’s founder. Will Amelia lose her heart in this reckless wager or win everlasting love?
Scroll down for EXCERPTS (audio and regular).

Other books in this series:

Book Cover

Book Cover