The Confessions of a Duchess
Harlequin HQN, Jun 2009, $7.99
In 1809 in the village of Fortune’s Folly, Sir Montague Fortune is outraged when former housemaid Miss Alice Lister rejected him as the rumored wealthy heiress realized her suitor groom is an unprincipled person. Irate by the affront of an aristocrat like him by a working class nothing, Sir Montague decides to punish all unmarried females when he applies the medieval Dames Tax; either a woman is married or she pays half her fortune to the squire; in this case him.
The outraged single females decide to take counteraction with this sexist stance led by the Dowager Duchess Laura Cole as the village is flooded by impoverish wastrels who see the village as a marriage mart. Meanwhile the Home Secretary sends Dexter Anstruther to Fortune’s Folly to investigate a homicide and for him to find a wealthy wife. However, Dexter is stunned to find Laura resides there; the greatest night of his life was with her four years ago but she dumped him in the morning after. As they fall in love and become lovers, she again rejects his proposal fearing her secret will send her beloved away; though he struggles on his personal front, he follows murder clues while she leads a Lysistrata like insurgency.
THE CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS is an intelligent Regency romance starring a strong secondary cast and two likable lead protagonists. The story line is fast-paced and amusing as the women revolt against their penuriousness (with his money) spendthrift (with their money) squire. Although the Regency era is not fully anchored, fans of historical romance will relish the Lysistrata insurgents dealing with an invasion of slimy piss poor males.