Title: An American Duchess
Author: Sharon Page
Genre: Historical Romance, 1920s
Publisher: Harlequin (September 30th)
Source: Review copy from publisher
Set on a crumbling English manor estate during the height of the Roaring Twenties, an American duchess must decide how much she's willing to risk for the life she truly desires…
It's 1922, and New York heiress Zoe Gifford longs for the freedoms promised by the Jazz Age. Headstrong and brazen, but bound by her father's will to marry before she can access his fortune, Zoe arranges for a brief marriage to Sebastian Hazelton, whose aristocratic British family sorely needs a benefactor.
Once in England, her foolproof plan to wed, inherit and divorce proves more complicated than Zoe had anticipated. Nigel Hazelton, Duke of Langford and Sebastian's older brother, is as austere and imposing as the family's ancestral estate. Still reeling from the Great War, Nigel is now staging a one-man battle against a rapidly changing world—and the outspoken Zoe represents everything he's fighting against.
When circumstances compel Zoe to marry Nigel rather than Sebastian, their heated quarrelling begets passion of another sort. But with Nigel unwilling to change with the times, will Zoe be forced to choose between her husband and her dreams?
American heiress Zoe Gifford needs access to her fortune to save her mother from scandal and possible jail, but a clause in her father’s will stipulates she needs to marry first.
Sebastian Hazelton needs a wife to quiet down rumors and needs money to help his impoverish aristocratic English family. Zoe and Sebastian come to an agreement, they will marry and soon after they will divorce. Zoe will get access to her trust fund and Sebastian will get a settlement with enough money to help his family.
They start their ruse with Zoe traveling to England to meet Sebastian’s family who is ignorant of their plan; they only person that knows their plan is Sebastian’s brother, Nigel Hazelton, Duke of Langford and he strongly disagrees with their plan.
Three years back, Nigel came back from the war a changed man. A war that left him scarred on the inside and on the outside. He came back to find everything changed and moving forward while he was left behind. He has tried his best to keep to his old ways as means to protect himself and his family, but now Zoe has come to their lives bringing modernization and scandals.
There is something in Nigel that calls to Zoe, she can see underneath Nigel’s façade and knows he’s hurting and she can’t help but feel attracted to him, attraction that is reciprocate by Nigel.
Sebastian understands this, and after some consideration from all the parties involved Zoe and Nigel marry, a real marriage this time, but a marriage with so many differences and obstacles that its future look very bleak.
An American Duchess by Sharon Page is a different book from your usual historical romance. I really like the historical setting, the Roaring Twenties where so many changes were taking place in the world. A modern woman (Zoe) fighting for her rights and a man (Nigel) holding to the old ways as a lifesaver.
Most of the time I liked Zoe, I like her energy and her strength, but there were some instances that she was a bit too much and did stupid things just to prove she was a modern woman. I understand some of them were her coping mechanism against all the pain she had inside, but there were immature and selfish and at times it was almost as if she was playing with Nigel.
My heart broke for Nigel. I can’t imagine what he must have seen during his ten years serving during the war and after all of that to come back home and see that life continued on without him. If that wasn’t enough his fiancé could stand the new man he became, scars and all and left him for another man. I understand why he tried to hold to his old ways with the fervor he did, it was the only way he knew of how to keep sane. Despite all his issues he is a good man and very caring at that. He wasn’t stubborn, when he realized he needed some changes in his life he allowed those changes to take place. The only problem was that he didn’t realize that by trying to protect the people he loved he was actually pushing them away.
Since the very beginning there is a clear chemistry between Zoe and Nigel. They fought and bantered about everything, but it was easy to see that beneath their actions was a strong attraction. When they came together is clear they have feelings for each other, the problem is that they both were expecting different things from the other and instead of talking they did things that didn’t help with their relationship.
My only complaint and about the resolution to their problems is that I felt Nigel had to go the extra mile for Zoe while she didn’t try that hard. He became somebody he wasn’t to be with her and to be honest I really don’t know if that will work on the long term.
The secondary characters they all contribute with something to the story. Sebastian and his secrets. Nigel’s sisters and their different desires in life. Nigel’s grandmother and her view of what things are supposed to be. Nigel’s mother and her sadness after everything she has lost and Zoe’s mother and her selfish and irritating personality. In a way they all made the story richer.
Despite its first half being stronger than the second half An American Duchess was still a pleasant, interesting and enjoyable read. An American Duchess was my first book by Sharon Page, but I’m sure it won’t be my last.
I recommend you to read An American Duchess if you liked books set in the Roaring Twenties or if you like books about how people deal with the aftermaths of war.
My Verdict: 3 ½ Paws
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