Desperately Seeking a Duke by Celeste Bradley

Setting: 1815, Regency


The only way for vicar’s daughter Phoebe Millbury to inherit a family fortune is to find herself a duke—just as her late grandfather demanded in his will. But Phoebe, who’s still  trying to make good after a romantic scandal, also has her two cousins to contend with. They’re all competing for the same money, maybe even the same men. ..until Phoebe meets her match in the terribly handsome and charming Rafe Marbrook.

When she receives a marriage proposal from the Marquis of Brookhaven, Phoebe is thrilled to learn that Rafe is headed for dukedom…and accepts his offer. There’s only one problem: It’s from Rafe’s older, less captivating brother, Calder. Now Phoebe finds herself on the verge of yet another scandal as she faces a desperate choice: Marry Calder for his money—or follow her own heart? Each way can only lead to trouble…

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Celeste Bradley became one of my must buy authors after I read Devil in My Bed, the first book in her Runaway Bride’s series. After reading the second one and while waiting for the third one to come out, I decided to buy some of her previous work to keep me satisfied till then. I bought this book, anticipating a wonderful read, but I have to say honestly that it didn’t live up to expectations.

Phoebe and Rafe meet one night at a ball when he rescues from making a fool of herself. They have one short conversation and voila! They are already madly in love. The rest of the book then ends up about Phoebe and Rafe fighting to be together. Honestly, I just could not believe the ‘love at first sight’ thing. I never felt any connection between the characters that would indicate any stronger interest than perhaps a crush. Now I don’t particularly mind if there is such a device used though I prefer books that show the characters falling in love slowly. But if love at first sight does happen, it should at least be done with some credibility.

The hero, Rafe, I will admit was charming, but then again, what rake isn’t? But apart from that, he didn’t appear to have much personality. He was ‘I love Phoebe and will die for her’ throughout the book, and yet he never bothered to let his brother know about how he felt about her. Phoebe on the other hand, was bland, to put it simply and she annoyed me. When she discovers she made a mistake by accepting Rafe’s brother’s hand instead of his, she doesn’t speak up about it and allow the misunderstanding to continue. We are told that she did not want to disappoint her father again but I didn’t see this as a good reason. She should have stood up for herself a little more. I also could not understand why Rafe fell for her. She wasn’t particularly outstanding in anyway.

As for the writing, at least here Celeste Bradley’s signature wit and humor are still maintained (I admit I laughed more than once during the course of the book), though it could not make up for a weak plot full of cliches. The love scenes were quite explicit and long and honestly seemed bland because I could not seem to care about them or their so called ‘relationship.’

In the end, I found myself dying to finish the book and ended up caring more for the brother who would eventually be jilted than the hero himself. I near to rooted for the brother which was not supposed to happen. There were too many cliches in the book and I could guess what was going to happen pages before it did.

I love Celeste Bradley normally  but give this one a miss.

Sensuality Level: Pretty warm (Explicit and long in length)

Verdict: Save yourself some money and skip this one.

Rating: One star out of 5

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