cover image Always Be My Duchess

Always Be My Duchess

Amalie Howard. Forever, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3771-2

Howard (Rules for Heiresses) takes a cue from Pretty Woman in the steamy first Victorian romance of her Taming of the Dukes series. A night of too much revelry leads business minded Lysander Blackstone, Duke of Montcroix, to wander into a seedy London neighborhood, where he winds up with a revolver brandished in his face by street-smart ballerina Nève Valery. When the pair are then set upon by thieves, they work together to evade them, and their meeting ends with Lysander offering Nève 100 pounds if she’ll be his escort to an upcoming ball and help him avoid the machinations of society’s matchmaking mothers. The ball is a success, and they extend their arrangement: for 5,000 pounds and an introduction to the director of the Lyceum Theater, Nève will act as Lysander’s fiancée for the next two months. Nève, the daughter of an English viscount and a French burlesque dancer, makes a convincing impression as the duke’s fiancée—and when their attraction becomes more than an act, Lysander must decide whether his hunger for fortune outweighs his desire for a future with Nève. Howard’s lyrical writing enlivens her bright, empathetic characters and her sharp eye on their class and cultural disparities only enhances their romance. Readers will be riveted. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (July)