The Duke Next Door
St. Martin's, Apr 2008, $6.99
In 1815 their late grandfather Sir Hamish Pickering, disappointed in his daughters not marrying up, placed a stipulation in his will that has his three granddaughters jumping. The first of the trio to marry a duke inherits his fortune. The competing cousins started with the rustic vicar's daughter Phoebe, the elegant Deirdre and the too tall Sophie, but Phoebe is no longer a contender having fallen in love with a duke’s brother (see DESPERATELY SEEKING A DUKE).
Deirdre hones in on ducal heir, “The Beast of Brookhaven” widow Calder Marbrook known for women jilting him at the altar like Phoebe just did. Deirdre tells Calder the truth just not the whole truth as she figures that is her best chance of winning; Calder agrees to marry her. Soon afterward, Deirdre meets her new spouse’s young child Lady Margaret that she did not know existed; the stepdaughter from hell who does not want a new mama. Upset that her Beast was less than honest with her as he concealed his offspring for her, she wants out, but Calder wants Deidre as they play a sexual game of check and checkmate with one another.
The second Heiress Brides’ Regency romance is an entertaining often amusing historical. Deirdre is a terrific lead character as she wants the title to inherit the fortune, but wants love to come with her duke. She feels that is not asking too much although she reconsiders after meeting Meggie whether the money is worth it. Readers will appreciate their gender war enflamed by their love for one another and the brat.