Friday, February 15, 2019

Review - To Love a Duchess

Title:   To Love a Duchess
Author:  Karen Ranney
Series:  All For Love #1
Genre:   Historical Romance
Publisher:   Avon
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:  384
Date of Publication:  July 31, 2018
My Rating:  4.5 Stars

From New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Ranney comes the first book in a royally romantic and deeply emotional new series about taking risks and allowing the power to love satisfy the questions of the heart...

Undercover as a majordomo, spy Adam Drummond has infiltrated Marsley House with one purpose only—to plunder its mysteries and gather proof that the late Duke of Marsley was an unforgivable traitor to his country. At the same time, Adam is drawn to a more beguiling puzzle: the young and still-grieving duchess—a beauty with impenetrable secrets of her own. For Drummond, uncovering them without exposing his masquerade will require the most challenging and tender moves of his career.

That a servant can arouse such passion in her is too shocking for Suzanne Whitcomb, Duchess of Marsley, to consider. Yet nothing quickens her pulse like Drummond's touch. It's been two years since the duke lost his life in a tragic accident—and even longer since she's been treated like a woman. But when Drummond's real mission is revealed, and the truth behind Suzanne's grief comes to light, every secret conspired to tear them apart is nothing compared to the love that can hold them together.


Adam Drummond is a spy and his latest assignment is the Marsley House as it is thought that the late Duke of Marsley was a traitor. He is acting as majordomo in the house and his objective is to gather as much information as possible. Adam is distracted rather quickly, however, as he has more than one run-in with the widow, who is still a young woman. The thing is that she is heavily-grieving, even after two years. As time progresses, Adam realizes that the duchess, Suzanne Whitcomb has secrets of her own and this is concerning to Adam.

Suzanne may be drawn to Adam, man in charge of her house, but she is also a bit annoyed, and for more than one reason. For starters, he is a servant, and she is a duchess. More importantly, she is still devasted by her losses. However, there is just something about Adam that makes Suzanne wonder more than once. Both Suzanne and Adam receive equal shock eventually. Adam because he learns the true reason for her grief. Suzanne because she learns his true purpose.

While Adam is working hard, Suzanne has her own battles to fight. Not only does she have to deal with her controlling father, but she is also dealing with a recalcitrant maid. This could definitely lead to her undoing. But, she doesn't see that. All she can see is her pain and getting through each day, even if she is not really living. I so love when she wakes up!

To Love a Duchess is the first book in the All for Love series, and I think this is a terrific start. I found this to be a very emotional read, especially where Suzanne’s grief originated. It certainly was very touching, especially when I got to read Adam’s reaction to this, and how he shared his own past with her. With Adam’s role as a spy, there was a measure of mystery in the book. The more clues that Adam unraveled, the more difficult things became. This added a very nice layer to an otherwise engaging romance. 

I look forward to continuing this series this week, with To Wed an Heiress, scheduled for publication March 26, 2019. 


Odds and Ends
My name is pronounced Rain-ey, not Ran-ney. I know, odd, hmm? It’s a married name, but my real one.

Who I am
I read something the other day that moved me. It was a comment that people want what you do not because of what it is, but who you are. So I decided to tell you who I am, in as succinct a way as possible:

I believe that you can accomplish almost anything if you believe it and add your actions to your thoughts.
I believe that there are more nice people than there are ugly ones, and you should ignore the ones that bring you misery.
I believe in the magnificence of the human spirit, in the kindness and love of which we’re all capable.
I believe that character is what you do when no one is looking.
I believe that we are judged by how we treat those of us who need help, how we care for the innocents among us and the animals in our world.
I believe in the transformative power of love.

My story
When I was five years old, I decided I was going to be a writer.

I used to carry around this really big blue book, holding it in my arms much like I would a doll. I can still feel how heavy it was and recall the marks it made on my arms. I remember sitting on the front steps in Sherman, Texas with the book beside me. Sometimes I would sit with it in my lap and open it up, my fingers sliding on top of all those words. I’d try to match the ones I already knew to the ones in that magical book.

“I’m going to be a writer,” I told my mother. And she, in the way of most mothers, smiled and said, “That’s nice, honey.”

Little did I know it would take me a few years.

My oddities as a writer
I’m one of those writers who writes regardless of circumstances.  If there’s a hurricane, a flood, a death, an illness, I write through the experience.  It’s how I cope.  I can point to each one of my books and tell you if I was undergoing some trauma at the time.  The book itself has become a catharsis, and consequently, I feel a special bond to it.  Those books are Tapestry, My Beloved, After the Kiss, and The Scottish Companion.

But that’s not to say they’re my favorites.  I don’t have one. Or perhaps my favorite is the one on which I’m working.

I like throwing my characters into the deep end.  Conflict is one of those components of a novel that I adore. Just think about how much conflict we have in our daily lives.

I also tend to write books about people who are flawed, but not whiners.  The women don’t expect a man to rescue them and the men don’t blame women for everything wrong in their lives.

Hopefully, my characters always have a deep core of beliefs, but they do not always act in perfect ways.  In other words, they’re like real people.