Review: Duchess By Design by Maya Rodale

Reviewed by Jen

If you’re looking for a historical with a somewhat different flair, look no further. Duchess by Design features the requisite duke the title suggests, but it takes us out of Regency England to New York’s Gilded Age, while he searches for his bride. It’s fresh and fun, and it’s filled with the kind of feminism and empowerment that made me want to cheer out loud.

Brandon is the stereotypical impoverished duke, in need of an heiress to help fill the coffers of his estate. The well of women who fit the bill in London is running dry, so he travels to America to take advantage of the surfeit families with new money. It’s when he first arrives that he lays eyes on Adeline. Since she is well dressed and appears to be staying in his high-class hotel, he believes her to be the kind of lady he’s searching for. But that would be too easy. Adeline is actually a seamstress visiting a client at the establishment.

The two flirt in an elevator, but Adeline instantly recognizes the duke from the gossip pages, and she knows nothing can come of it. She is blunt and irreverent, and Brandon is floored to be finally treated like a regular man. He ardently pursues Adeline, and by the time he learns she is without the funds he needs, his affections are already engaged. The story follows his attempts to stick to his original plan, even when he can’t stop thinking about the appealing woman from the elevator.

Adeline is a fashion visionary who dreams only of making beautiful dresses and being self-sufficient. She has no plans to marry and put her future in the hands of a man. But her livelihood is threatened by her connection to the duke. Her boss sees him trailing at her heels and assumes she is behaving inappropriately… which gets her fired. Thankfully, she encounters a group of women dedicated to lifting each other up and she gets an opportunity to start again.

I love the female camaraderie here and the message that feminism and female empowerment are far from new notions. I love how Adeline sees the power of dresses and the freedom and vehicles of expression they provide for women who have no other voice. I love that she makes dresses with pockets! But perhaps, best of all, I love how Brandon listens to what she says… that he is willing and able to learn that there is more than just the way of the world he has always known. He adapts and evolves because he is able to see through a new lens.

Engaging, easy reading with a couple I could get behind and an HEA that satisfies.

Rating: B+/A-

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Duchess By Design
by Maya Rodale
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Avon

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