How the Duke Was Won
Lenora Bell     

Genre: Historical
Series: The Disgraceful Dukes
Book: 1

The pleasure of your company is requested at Warbury Park. Four lovely ladies will arrive… but only one can become a duchess.

James, the scandalously uncivilized Duke of Harland, requires a bride with a spotless reputation for a strictly business arrangement. Lust is prohibited and love is out of the question.

Four ladies. Three days. What could go wrong?

She is not like the others…

Charlene Beckett, the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan, has just been offered a life-altering fortune to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke’s proposal. All she must do is:

* Be the perfect English rose [Ha!]

* Breathe, smile, and curtsy in impossibly tight gowns [blast Lady Dorothea’s sylph-like figure]

* Charm and seduce a wild duke [without appearing to try]

* Keep said duke far, far from her heart [no matter how tempting]

When secrets are revealed and passion overwhelms, James must decide if the last lady he should want is really everything he needs. And Charlene must decide if the promise of a new life is worth risking everything . . . including her heart.

Next book in the series:


It’s always lovely to discover a gifted historical debut author and in Lenora Bell I did. How the Duke Was Won is a wonderful debut.

Charlene Beckett, our beautiful, intrepid, spunky heroine is a breath of fresh air in the realm of prim and proper ladies of the ton. Born to a courtesan, Charlene is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Desmond and works as a servant in her mother’s house of ill repute. To get her family out of a debt to Lord Grant—a man who wants to make Charlene his unwilling mistress—she agrees to pose as her half-sister in hopes of getting James, the Duke of Harland, to propose.  

Think of The Bachelor and you get an idea of the setup. Four eligible young ladies all vying for one man’s attention. Except for Charlene, this is literally a matter of life and something close to death. Above a future that would see her becoming a dreaded courtesan, Charlene is thinking of her younger sister as well as her ailing mother. She must seduce the duke to give them a better life. What she doesn’t know is that trying to charm a proposal out of the handsome duke is not an arduous task. In fact, she finds she doesn’t mind the task at all.  

The scene in which they met had me laughing because not only is Charlene pretending to be someone else, but so is James. But by far, the funniest part is how she reacts when he “comes onto her”. Shy and quiet Lady Dorothea she is not.

Unfortunately for James, her unconventionality is one of the things he likes about her. A little too much. He wants a practical, bloodless marriage. And the feelings Charlene evokes in him will lead to anything but that.

James is one of those heroes who is in desperate need of reforming. And I do love to see a rake meet his Waterloo. There’s nothing like a man who is determined not to get physically and emotionally attached, do just that. This is a common theme you’ll find in romances I enjoy. James does his best to push her away, make himself undesirable to her to no avail. Now, you and I know—because this is a romance—it’s not going to work. Especially since Charlene is equally determined to win him over. Poor James doesn’t stand a chance.

I was intrigued by Stephen, Marquess of Dalton, James’s good friend. He is so positive that Lady Dorothea will be the woman James proposes to, he places a large wager on it. And—the sly devil that he is—does his best to help things along. Love him. I’m definitely looking forward to his book, which I assume is the next book in the series.  

All in all, How the Duke Was Won is a wonderful debut and the beginnings of a very promising series. It’s clear to me that Lenora Bell is definitely a historical author on the rise and one I’ll be watching out for.

- Beverley