What to Do With a Duke
Book 1 in the Spinster House series
Author Sally MacKenzie
Narrated by Beverley A. Crick
TANTOR AUDIO: Publication date Aug 25, 2015
Running time 9 hrs 13 min
Also available in Print/E-Book from Zebra Books
Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
Welcome to the charming, fatefully named village of Loves Bridge, where a woman destined for spinsterhood can live a life of her own choosing—or fall unexpectedly, madly in love . . .
Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting would rather be lounging in the library than circling the ballroom in search of a husband any day. So when Cat hears that the town’s infamous Spinster House is open for a new resident, she jumps at the chance to put all this marriage business behind her. But first she must make arrangements with her prospective landlord, Marcus, the Duke of Hart—the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and the only man who’s ever impressed her in the least.
With her wit, independent spirit, and great beauty, Marcus can’t help but be stirred by Cat. It’s terribly unfortunate that he’s not looking to marry, given the centuries-old curse that left his family with the Spinster House to begin with. No duke shall live to see his heir’s birth. But is there a chance the curse could be broken—in true fairy-tale fashion—by an act of true love?
I really enjoyed this story where a Duke’s line has been cursed to die before his heir can be born, all because of a love affair gone wrong and a meddling mother.
There was a twist in this story; one that softens the Duke of Hart’s kind but morose heart that I did not see coming until just before it arrived. It doesn’t have much of an impact on the man except to make him more human and less driven on his path to a lonely, short life.
After living in a family with 10 children (TEN!), Cat is ready for some peace and quiet to write novels like Jane Austen, even though her parents believe fiction to be foolish. She thinks she’ll find her peace in winning space in the house left by the lover of the third Duke of Hart, Isabelle Dorring. The house is to be the residence (with stipend) for a local spinster for life or until the spinster marries She discovers the quiet and solitude she desires, at least for a while but loses the approbation of the townspeople who believe she got a little something something with the Duke to swing the lottery her way.
This plot is well-constructed and, if not complex, then still cleverly constructed with a tiny paranormal element. After all, we’re talking about curses. If you believe in the curse, you open the door for a multitude of other paranormal features. But that element is minor and there are no swirling mists or big time special effects. It’s more like the fates have a hand in the story.
I loved Cat’s younger siblings, one of whome just calls the Duke, “Duke.” It’s so cute. Some of the others I could take or leave; they had the kinds of relationships with Cat typical of siblings in a small house.
The story has parts more bawdy than we like to think of the Engilsh aristocracy as being, but, before the Victorians, the kind of were. A historian friend of mine says, “We look at the pact through Victorian lenses.” MacKenzie seems to have taken them off, or at least made them half glasses. I’m not saying the story is all that steamy — it is not, just that not all the characters are priggish.
I found the story amusing and it had some nice pathos as Cat tries to fight the desire she feels for the Duke even as she declares herself a spinster. Irony, anyone? I even enjoyed Crick’s voicing and narration.
I recommend this fun Regency with a hint of the paranormal.