The Shy Duchess

Author: Amanda McCabe

Publisher: Harlequin

Release Date: February 2011

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5


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If it were up to her, Lady Emily Carroll would never attend another ball for the rest of her days.  Unfortunately, an unmarried earl's daughter does not get to make those choices.  If only she felt more confident in herself not to always look like a clumsy fool, she would be more sociable.  Then again, even if she were more outgoing, did she really want to socialize with those who murmur "Ice Princess" behind her back? 

If it were up to him, Nicholas, the Duke of Manning would opt to forego every social invitation offered him when he came to town.  Alas, as an unmarried duke, he cannot afford such slights, especially if he ever intends to marry and produce an heir.  If only he could find a woman with the proper duchess disposition, one who he could get along with easy enough, and wouldn’t remind him of his beloved lost wife.  Nicholas once thought Lady Emily might fit the bill, but her cool demeanor told him she bore no interest.  So he moved on.
Fate, however, had other plans.  During a rare moment when Emily’s inhibitions are only slightly less guarded, Nicholas briefly glimpses the real woman behind the frosty exterior
and is more than slightly intrigued.  Emily is likewise blessed with a blissful moment of friendly conversation with a “not so intimidating” duke, opening them both up to unexpected, candid laughter.  If laughter is the best medicine for the ailing, for certain it’s also the best aphrodisiac for would be lovers.  Now, if only they could let down their guards enough and share their true selves with one another, their happy ever after might be within reach.
Engaging, enchanting, excellent… THE SHY DUCHESS, put simply, is a lovely read.  
With rich, wonderful characters whose inner trials and tribulations are both tender and credible, Ms. McCabe has quite possibly written my biography… had I been born during Regency England as a prominent member of the Ton, were a blond bombshell, and as shy as a squirrel.  Jokes aside, I really was quite shy growing up.  So Emily’s many foibles, her uncertainties, and sometimes irrational-sometimes rational fears were all quite relatable.  That she was lucky enough to find a man as patient, kind, and respectful as Nicholas is proof positive that the best things come to those who wait.  
Although the hero is not the typical rakehell in need of redemption, Nicholas is just as compelling as any bad boy I’ve ever read, and in many ways, more so.  Nicholas is not looking to get married, and a love match is the furthest thing from his mind.  And yet when he encounters Emily, she awakens a yearning within him he never even knew he had.  Their relationship is astonishingly honest – she could care less about marrying a duke, and he knows it.  So when outward appearances say she abhors being in his presence, directly contradicting the electrified currents of “what if” in the air, something pushes him to persevere.  And how sexy is it when a man perceives a woman’s worth well before she acknowledges it within herself?  
Another great aspect to Nick and Em’s love story is that he has no control issues with Emily, nor does she with him (not that she would even know how to manipulate anyone in any way).  Instead, he waits with unexpected baited breath for her to find her way to him.  He doesn’t want to care so much about her and can’t fathom for the life of him why he does.  And yet, he understands better than anyone the importance of Emily doing things in her own time.  Their relationship is unbelievably equitable – with both naturally giving and taking what they need from the other, and totally unaware they’re even doing it.  And isn’t that how the most beautiful love stories find fruition – with sincere dialogue, engaging laughs, and the quickly fleeting, though easily returning subtle smiles?  
THE SHY DUCHESS is a fine gift from a very talented author, quite worthy of its 4.5 Blue Ribbon rating.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Chris

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