When Trevor Carey, the Duke of Ormond first meets Lady Isabella Wharton, he thinks she's a cold hearted treasure hunter, and so he pretends to be a farm-hand to make her leave his lands as quickly as possible. Her poise and honesty appeals to him, though, and since her carriage is broken, he lets her stay at his estate. Soon, she becomes friends with his younger sisters, all the while hiding some sinister notes that keep appearing in her bed chambers, veiled threats that become more urgent as the time passes.
The reluctant Duke feels an urgency as well, and it has all to do with the lovely Lady who is staying as a guest in his house. He realizes there is a lot more to her than the beauty that meets the eye, and he is both intrigued and admiring when it comes to her. Isabella has been burnt badly before, and the last thing she wants is to have a man in her life, but Trevor is very charming, and brutally honest as well as loyal.
*I received a free eARC of Why Dukes Say I do from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
Why Dukes Say I Do is exactly my kind of historical romance. Isabella is a strong-minded widow, but she can still be blackmailed by the dowager who is also her Godmother. Trevor is a reluctant Duke who has never met his own grand-mother because her late husband left his father penniless for marrying for love. When Isabella is sent to Yorkshire to convince him to come to London and embrace his new role, Trevor wants to bargain with her to make sure he won’t have to leave his beloved country home.
On top of getting to know each other, and trying to convince each other to change their point of view, Trevor and Isabella have to deal with the fact that someone seems to be out for Isabella’s blood. And the secret Isabella is keeping is a very big one. Why Dukes Say I Do is a mixture of historical romance and mystery, and the balance between the two is expertly done. As the plot moves forward the different culprits start to make sense, only to be discarded later, but Isabella and Trevor both continue to search and as they do, they grow close.
I really enjoyed the humor as well, and of course, because the heroine is a widow, there is no ambiguity about the fact that she is not a virgin! I have a discussion post about why heroines so often are virgins, and it made me very happy to actually read a historical romance where this is not the case! And since the name of the series Why Dukes Say I Do is named Wicked Widows, I have a feeling this is one romance trope that is not part of the rest of the books in the series either.
The character development makes a lot of sense, and as Isabella and Trevor get to now and trust each other, they show other aspects of themselves than they did when they first met. The interactions with Trevor’s younger sisters, and later with the haughty dowager are extremely well done, and I had a very good time while reading Why Dukes Say I Do. If you enjoy historical romance novels that also include a mystery and some humor, you should definitely make room for Why Dukes Say I Do on your ‘to read’ list.