Saturday, June 29, 2019
Review - - Project Duchess
by Sabrina Jeffries
Duke Dynasty - Book 1
Publisher: Kensington - Zebra Books
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady . . .
Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family . . . or with the man whose lessons capture her heart . . .
I've enjoyed pretty much everything Sabrina Jeffries has written, with a number of 5-star books scattered throughout her oeuvre. But, for my money, she's at her best in a series set within a family, with a mystery at its core. She excels at family dynamics; creating realistic, and entertaining, relationships among siblings such as those within The Hellions of Halstead Hall, my favorite of her many series. Her Duke Dynasty series introduces readers to a new (blended) family - a thrice widowed mother of three dukes, a second son, and a daughter - and a new mystery to be solved. Based on the recently released first book, Project Duchess, where we meet the entire family, it just may give those Halstead Hall hellions a run for their money.
Beatrice and Grey are wonderfully complex characters, both with hidden emotional baggage. At first glance, their "playing field" appears to be very unequal. Grey is a wealthy duke from London while Beatrice is a poor spinster from the country. Yes, she's a duke's granddaughter but she's never had a debut and is much more at home running her dogs or walking the woods than at a dinner party. But Beatrice isn't about to let Grey walk over her. She's opinionated, fond of cursing, and holds her own with our rigid duke. Rather than repel Grey, those qualities only make her more attractive to him, as evidenced by the sizzling chemistry that flares whenever they're in the same room. It was so much fun to watch our calm, collected, and controlled duke fall head over heels, even though he doesn't realize it until it's almost too late. And the banter between these two! So good!
Beatrice may appear confident but she also has a vulnerable heart that could easily be broken and secrets she guards zealously. Grey has a few of his own. There are good reasons why he isn't close with his siblings; why he keeps his emotions safely locked away. My heart broke for him when those reasons were finally brought to light.
One of the things I most liked about this book is the fact that both Beatrice and Grey evolve over the course of the story without losing the essential elements of their character. Neither is "transformed" to better fit their new role, especially Beatrice. Rather, they gradually help one another overcome the pain of their individual pasts, they protect one another's secrets, they learn to trust in love and one another, and most importantly, they help each other heal and recognize their true worth. I adored them and can't wait to, hopefully, see more of them throughout the series. They are going to be one fun - and formidable - couple!