DiscoverHistorical Romance

A Hand for the Duke

By Meredith Bond

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Tina, a woman determined to be a successful London dressmaker, meets Duke Warwick, a man desperately in need of a dress for his sister. 5⭐s!

Synopsis

Can the Ladies of the Wagering Whist Society help an impoverished modiste win the hand of a sought-after Duke?
Tina Rowan is talented—and wants nothing more than to be free of her past. When she is blackmailed by her foster-father, she must rely on her flair for designing dresses to earn enough to pay him off. Starting a business isn’t easy for a nobody. But Tina has three aces up her sleeve—her amazing talent, her well-connected mother, and the (meddlesome) support of the Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society.
The handsome, arrogant Duke of Warwick has been taught the “proper” way for a nobleman to behave. Number one: do not fraternize with the lower classes. But when he must introduce his beloved sister to society, he finds himself reliant on the beguiling woman he’s hired as his sister’s modiste. To his astonishment, he finds himself enjoying her company far too much.
When Tina discovers the true man behind the title, her heart might very well be lost. But can the duke allow himself to love the only woman who can make him happy?
It will take the combined efforts of the Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society to see this difficult hand well played.

First, you have Tina. She is most likely my favorite character. She is determined to make her dress business successful, even if that success comes with exhaustion. Although this novel is a romance novel, she doesn’t just drop her business the minute she sets her eyes on Duke Warwick. They do have chemistry together, but her main focus is on making herself successful so that she can be independent. The independence and determination that Tina has really makes this a great read. I haven’t read many historical romance novels that have a businesswoman as the main character, so Tina definitely left a lasting impression on me.


Then, you have Duke Warwick himself. Both of his parents are dead, and it is up to him to make sure that his younger sister Margaret is married to a good man. He will not let himself even think about getting married until his sister is married and has a happy family. Nevertheless, Tina is an interesting girl. He has never met anyone like her before and he wants to get to know her more. But she is simply a modiste, a dressmaker. If his father taught him anything, he taught him that a Duke must be proper at all times. Nevertheless, he loves being able to talk to Tina. Surely it won’t be a problem, he is just helping out his sister, that’s all! His character is so sweet. He never thought of hurting Tina, he just wanted to get to know her. He had been so lonely throughout his life, and now this seamstress was coming in and tearing down all the walls that his father taught him to build up. It was truly beautiful to see his character change and grow throughout the story.  


The side characters are also so fun to read about. You have Margaret, the shy girl who needs to be married soon so that she has a good future. You have Tina’s Mother, Christiane, who is an adult woman learning to find love again. When I first opened this book, I thought it was a little long compared to most historical romances I’ve read. Nevertheless, Meredith Bond fills these pages with wonderful stories that kept me reading.


I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a new sweet historical romance novel to indulge in!

Reviewed by

I am a fast reader who writes reviews that are usually at least 400-500 words, usually reaching around 600. I have 730 followers on my blog currently, and will most likely hit 800 before the end of April. I read many different genres of books, and I read books for all age levels.

Synopsis

Can the Ladies of the Wagering Whist Society help an impoverished modiste win the hand of a sought-after Duke?
Tina Rowan is talented—and wants nothing more than to be free of her past. When she is blackmailed by her foster-father, she must rely on her flair for designing dresses to earn enough to pay him off. Starting a business isn’t easy for a nobody. But Tina has three aces up her sleeve—her amazing talent, her well-connected mother, and the (meddlesome) support of the Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society.
The handsome, arrogant Duke of Warwick has been taught the “proper” way for a nobleman to behave. Number one: do not fraternize with the lower classes. But when he must introduce his beloved sister to society, he finds himself reliant on the beguiling woman he’s hired as his sister’s modiste. To his astonishment, he finds himself enjoying her company far too much.
When Tina discovers the true man behind the title, her heart might very well be lost. But can the duke allow himself to love the only woman who can make him happy?
It will take the combined efforts of the Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society to see this difficult hand well played.

Prologue

Prologue


~March 1, 1806~


Tina Rowan could barely breathe. Her legs trembled with every step forward.

Her foster-father wanted to have a word with her.

How many bruises would she come away with this time?

Most of the time, she managed to stay out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind. Throughout her childhood, she’d kept in his good graces, merely by keeping out of the house as much as possible. At first, it had been tutoring with the vicar, who’d been kind enough to not only teach her but allowed her to spend hours in his library reading everything she could. He’d understood her need to stay away from her foster-father and had abetted her in every way possible.

When Mr. Rowan had apprenticed her to the local seamstress, she’d spent her days and sometimes well into the night sewing. He’d been happy because she was earning money, and every penny she earned made him richer.

But now… Now, she wondered, what more did he want from her?

“Sit down,” he said, by way of greeting when she walked into his bedchamber.

She did so immediately, sitting on the edge of his bed—the only place for her to sit.

He paced for a moment before stopping directly in front of her. He smiled.

Tina felt a cold bead of sweat roll down her back between her shoulder blades.

“Congratulations, my dear,” he said, holding the unnatural smile on his face. “You are to be married.”

“What?” she breathed. She’d not heard a word of this—not a whisper from anyone in the household. Had they not known? Or she supposed it was simply that they didn’t care. One would have thought growing up in the household would have endeared her to this family that raised her, but no, they’d only felt contempt for her and hadn’t once felt the need to hide it. She thought her foster-mother held some affection for her. Her four foster-siblings had made it abundantly clear throughout her life that they felt nothing for the illegitimate child who’d been thrust on them.

“You’ll be marrying Caleb,” he said, naming his eldest son.

“But…” She stopped. She didn’t dare argue, or could she? It was merely a question of how badly he’d beat her if she did. But surely there had to be a way out of this. She couldn’t, wouldn’t marry her foster-brother. He was cut from the same cloth as her foster-father.

He was not a nice man.

“When you marry him, your monthly allowance will go to him,” her foster-father said, the smile fading from his lips.

Oh. So that’s what this was. He wanted to keep her allowance—the money her biological mother paid for her upkeep.

“You just want to keep the money in the family,” Tina said to confirm her suspicions.

He stared at her neither confirming or denying it.

“But if I marry Caleb, he’ll get the money, not you,” she pointed out needlessly, but she was thinking this through, looking for a way out. “What if I could ensure you continued receiving the money?”

She would do anything, anything at all to keep from marrying her brute of a brother.

Her foster-father narrowed his eyes. “And just how would you do that?”

“I could… I could work and—”

“You do work, but you are twenty years old. Lady Norman expects you to marry. If you do, it’s going to be to Caleb.”

“Lady Norman has said she wants me to get married?” Tina asked. Her biological mother hadn’t said anything to her when they’d met just the week before at the seamstress’s shop. Tina had made Lady Norman three gowns. She’d been very happy with them and very happy that Tina had made and designed them. But not a word about marriage had been spoken.

“She hasn’t,” her foster-father conceded, “but it’s just a matter of time. You’re twenty!”

“Perhaps I can forestall her…” Tina suggested.

“You need to marry. You will marry Caleb. End of discussion!” Her foster-father turned to leave. He wasn’t a man of many words, and he was not used to being argued with.

“What if I earned even more money? What if I… I went to London and worked? I could send you the same amount Lady Norman has been paying you… perhaps with an additional ten percent,” Tina said quickly before he left the room.

He stopped.

Slowly he turned back. “And how do you propose to do that? She pays me a good sum.”

“I could work as a journey-woman. A seamstress. I’ve learned a lot in the two years since I’ve been apprenticed to Mrs. Little.”

“You wouldn’t earn that much as a seamstress.” He shook his head. “No, you’ll marry Caleb.”

“I could if I weren’t just a seamstress. I-I design dresses too. I could become a-a modiste. To the noblewomen. To the ladies of London Society,” she said, pulling straws out of thin air.

It was true that she had been designing dresses for a little while. Mrs. Werthing, the vicar’s wife had always allowed Tina to look through her fashion magazines, so she knew something of what the current trends were in London.

“Lady Norman was very happy with the dresses I made for her last week, and I’ve made dresses for quite a few others who’ve all admired my work,” she added for good measure. “Lady Norman paid five guineas for each dress I made her.”

Her foster-father narrowed his eyes at her at the mention of the money.

“If I make enough dresses, I could afford to pay you,” she said.

“Twenty percent.”

“Twenty? What? No! I still need to be able to live and living in London is expensive. Ten.” She couldn’t believe she was arguing with this man. Her boldness surprised her.

“Caleb will be happy to take you to wife.”

“Fifteen. It is all I can afford.” To be honest, she had no idea how much she could afford, but it sounded reasonable.

“How will you get started? You’ll need a patron,” he pointed out.

“Lady Norman will help me, I’m sure.”

He nodded. “Fifteen plus what she already pays me. You have two months to start paying. If I don’t get my money on time, I’ll tell the newspapers the truth about you, you little bastard, and who your mother is too.” With that, he walked out of the room.

Tina’s jaw dropped. He would let the world know the truth? That would destroy both her and Lady Norman. She would have no choice but to marry Caleb—she couldn’t imagine anyone else would have her.

And he only gave her two months! No one could get a business started and profitable in two months! It would take an absolute miracle!

Not only that, but she hadn’t yet asked her biological mother if she would actually help her. She could only pray that Lady Norman would. Otherwise, she was going to have a lifetime of black eyes and tip-toeing around an angry husband.

About the author

Meredith Bond's books straddle that beautiful line between historical romance and fantasy. An award-winning author, she writes fun traditional Regency romances, Arthurian romances, and Regency with a touch of magic. Meredith loves to take her readers on a journey they won't soon forget. view profile

Published on April 15, 2019

Published by

80000 words

Genre: Historical Romance

Reviewed by

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