The Duke’s Quandary

Book Cover: The Duke's Quandary
London 1814 ~ Drake, Duke of Manchester is searching the Marriage Mart for a perfect bride. He wants a woman who is poised, sophisticated, and worthy of the title Duchess. But most of all, he wants a woman who does not want the useless emotion of love.
Socially awkward Miss Penelope Clayton isn't meant for marriage. A serious botanist, she has no desire to wed, so being forced by her guardian to participate in the Season to find a husband is torture. She'll never fit in with the ton, especially if they discover she's been pretending to be a man within the scientific community.
As Drake's family makes over Penelope, turning her from naive bluestocking to enchanting debutante, he is put upon to introduce her to society and eligible bachelors. Despite dance lessons and new gowns, Penelope is the opposite of poised and sophisticated as she stumbles from one mishap to the next. Why then, does he find it so hard to resist her?
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After breakfast the next morning, Penelope threw on her pelisse and left the house, deep in thought. She kicked at a few stones in her path, meandering, immersed in thoughts of how unfair life was. Once again, she would be wrenched from her home and thrust into an unknown and unwelcome world. Instead of feeling excitement at what another young lady would thoroughly enjoy, she experienced nothing but dread.

If her father hadn’t set his will to include a trustee until she either married or reached the age of five and twenty, she’d have control of her funds, her life, and her wishes. Instead, she had to bow to the commands of Lord Monroe and Aunt.

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She came to an abrupt halt, her mouth agape in a most unladylike manner. In all the consternation at her upcoming forced social life, she had completely forgotten her new discovery. She could not leave it here. It would be necessary to pack the delicate plant very carefully and bring the treasure with her to London. Also her journals and botanical tomes. She must not leave those behind, either.

Goodness. She turned on her heel and sped to the house. What was she thinking? Instead of wallowing in self-pity over her obligatory presence in Town, she should be preparing for her trip as a true scientist. It would be necessary to wrap her specimen in wet towels for transport. And she’d need time to pack all her books and papers. She must hurry.

“Miss, your bags have been packed and stored on the carriage taking us to London.” Miss Bloom stood at the back entrance to the Manor, her pelisse buttoned, and her bonnet securely tied beneath her ample chin.

“Not yet. There are things I must do.” Penelope brushed past her companion, almost knocking the woman off her feet. “Oh, so sorry. I’ll be right with you.” She spoke over her shoulder, at first not noticing the maid standing before her, duster in her hand. The young girl, used to her mistress’s manner, scooted out of the way in time to avoid a collision.

“Good morning, miss.” The maid did a quick curtsy.

Penelope nodded as she hastened into the kitchen. “I’ve told you, Madeline, there is no need to curtsy to me.”

“Yes, miss.” The girl dipped again.

“Mrs. Potter, I need several wet cloths. Please bring them to the library.” She grabbed a pastry from the table and headed back out, crumbs trailing as she walked.

“Where are you off tae now, lass? The carriage is waiting for ye.”

“It will have to wait,” Penelope shouted back, slamming the library door.

When she spotted the small plant in its place of honor on her escritoire, happiness filled her once again. Perhaps she would be viewed as a social failure, but she would have her science to return to when the Season ended.

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Reviews:Talking Books wrote:

This book had so many emotions - happiness, love, loss, mourning and moving on. Penelope and Drake together were a powerhouse read that pulled on the heart strings throughout the book.

Judith, Amazon wrote:

...this book is a charmer. The hero is stiff, serious and more than a bit aware of his position; the heroine is socially awkward, preferring life as a scholar. Together, they are irresistible.

Chris R., Amazon wrote:

For a perfect day of reading and relaxing, this is the perfect book.