Book 1 – The Gilded Age Girls Club
Brandon Fiennes, the Duke of Kingston, is a former rogue who has taken the responsibilities of his dukedom very seriously. It isn’t easy caring and providing for the scores of people who depend on him for their very livelihood. And when three of those people are his two sisters and his mother who simply must be clothed in the latest fashion, Brandon finds that more mundane things like fixing the roof or paying his other creditors must be put on hold as he deals with invoices from dressmakers, milliners, and furriers. What’s a poor duke to do? Why marry for money of course! But eligible women of his own class are from families in similar circumstances. So Brandon, Duke of Kingston, is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and trade his title for an American heiress.
Adeline Black has dreams of becoming not just a dressmaker, but the dressmaker who will have all of New York society wearing her creations. Currently employed by Madame Chalfont, Adeline is on her way to a customer fitting at The Fifth Avenue Hotel, hoping that her design ideas will find favor with Miss Burnett – an American heiress who has no need for marriage. She is a feminist of the first water. However, on her way through the lobby she literally falls into the arms of Brandon who pulls her from the path of an oncoming trolley. She makes an indelible impression as the duke mistakes her for an heiress.
When Brandon fails to find a marriageable heiress who could cause him to forget Adeline, he makes her an offer. If she will join him at several society functions, she could steer him toward the right kind of young lady who would fit the role of duchess. In return, she could wear gowns of her own fashion and they could be seen by the best of New York society. Things go awry. There are several minor scandals. But in the end happiness will reign. Or will it?
I enjoy stories set in the Gilded Age. All the excitement of a young New York City, of self-made men and women, the glitter and glamour all just blocks away from true poverty and squalor, fortunes made or lost on the turn of coin are the stuff of grand stories. Duchess by Design captures the romance of the era in a delightful manner. Headstrong American female characters pitted against a reserved and proper English nobleman and his cousin provide just the right amount of conflict. I found it difficult to put this one down as there was more to the story than just a search for love. This book is the first in Maya Rodale’s new series The Gilded Age Girls Club.
Rating: 4.5 stars