The Duke’s Unexpected Bride- Lara Temple

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I am having some trouble putting my thoughts together about this book. I’ve never read Lara Temple before, but I love historical and Regency romance, so I couldn’t say no to this one. On one hand, this was cute and hilarious, on another, it was pretty dark and disturbing. Actually, that is a pretty good description of the two mains…. Let me try to break it down for you.

The Story-
Sophie is a country-girl, staying with her wealthy aunt (? can’t remember…a wealthy old lady that never shows up in the plot), and she has out-lasted other members of the family who came to stay due to her willingness to take care of the aunt’s dog, Marmaduke. The pug is hilarious and is really another character in the story. Duke something-or-other, Max, runs into her on a walk with the dog and is captured by her enthusiasm and spirit. (Although he won’t admit it for most of the book.) Max is dealing with some dark things that happened in his past, but is seemingly continually drawn to Sophie which leads to an engagement of convenience sort of thing.

My Thoughts-
The first half of the book is an enjoyable piece of fun and is a unique take on a Regency romance. The second half feels more like a book you’ve read, albeit with some twists and surprises, but it misses some of the joy in the beginning. The characters, especially Sophie, are masterfully developed, and the secondary characters make me want to look through this author’s backlist to see if their stories have been told. I guess the somewhat dark turn of the plot threw me a bit considering I had been laughing at the highjinks of a pug getting his portrait painted in an earlier chapter.

The Bottom Line-
If you like dogs or humor in your historical romance, this is a no-brainer. If you like historical Regency romance, this is much better than many that are out there. The characters are well-written, and the story clicks right along. I will be reading more by this author and am going to check out her backlist now. 4 stars

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