I received this book for free from Avon in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell
Series: School For Dukes #1
Published by Avon on March 27th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Regency Era, Fairy Tales
Wanted: Governess for duke's unruly children
Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.
Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke
Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won't be quite so easy to control. And there's something else she can't seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.
Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny
As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she's the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win?
What A Difference A Duke Makes is a fun romance that really surprised me. I have been impressed with this author, her writing is superb and so easy to get into which isn’t always the case with regency romances lately. Now I won’t say she is the best regency author, some of her books are more modernized and so at times I struggle with her writing and I did feel like this story had some modernisms but not as much as some of her previous books. What I found most intriguing was the “Mary Poppins” retelling, I was really curious to see how Bell would handle this aspect and man she rocked it!! I just had such a blast with it especially since I LOVE Mary Poppins.
Mari has been brought to London with the promise of a job, but when she arrives her luggage is stolen and she is late and ends up losing the job promised to her. Mari knows no one in London, she is an orphan and has no family to go to. But when she overhears of a governess posting, with two children of a Duke, whose shenanigans have forced the most recent governess to leave….Mari knows that this is her chance. Mari has the abilities to wrap the most rebellious of children around her finger. When she arrives, the children instantly are drawn to her but the father….the Duke of Banksford is a whole different story. At first, he doesn’t hide the fact that he doesn’t want her in his home, thinking she is too “frail” to handle his wild children. However, Mari is determined to prove to the Duke of Banksford that she can handle anyone including the stubborn prideful man himself. But there is a connection between Edgar and Mari, which is forbidden. Mari is a governess and Edgar a Duke….how can she be anything but a mistress and a servant? But Mari isn’t who she seems to be, her past is about to come into light and Edgar will need to fight for the one woman he loves…..
You have a light shining from you, Mari. It draws everyone’s eyes to you. Your smile is incandescent. When you’re in a room, everything gravitates toward you, haven’t you noticed? The way you were able to charm the children in such short order. The way you charm me. Disarm me.
I will say that this book rocked my world in some unique delights. I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. It was truly a wonderful read, and I couldn’t put it down, I became so easily immersed in this story.
I do want to mention the negative thoughts I had about this book, there is really only one aspect that I wasn’t a huge fan of. I didn’t really approve of how easily their “match” would be accepted by society. Of course, we don’t really see the fall out of their match. However the hints given show that it was unlikely that Mari would be so accepted by the Ton, but you also have to take into account who we learn her birth parents are which does help quite a bit but doesn’t solve the problem and we don’t really see much focus on this. I felt in some ways that Lenora Bell sugarcoated this aspect, which might work for some readers, but I would have liked to see this pair deal with this dilemma a bit more than was touched on. But honestly, this aspect didn’t bother me quite as much, probably because of the way this story was written that charmed me completely.
Our heroine is a miracle worker with children and I love how she is so intuned with the twins. Edgar didn’t realize he had any children until recently, and the moment he learns of their existence, he instantly placed them in his home and has gone through so many governesses until Mari. A young woman who is lovely inside and out. Who isn’t afraid to get dirty, knows her garden snakes and can wrap children around her little finger. There is a strong chemistry between Edgar and Mari, but Edgar knows this attraction he feels for Mari is very dangerous and doesn’t want her in his home because of how strongly he is feeling for her but he also can’t deny what she has done with his children.
One of my favorite aspects of the story was the connection to the “Mary Poppins” theme and I was so delighted with these small moments that connect with certain scenes from this charming story. I felt like the character depth is pretty detailed and I loved seeing the background behind both Edgar and Mari. Both of them have struggled in their own ways. Edgar have to live with an abusive father, estranged from his mother and his adventurous sister. Mari having been abandoned at birth, with only two clues of where she came from. Part of the reason she wanted to come to London was to find her parents or any family connection that she can find.
The romance that develops between Edgar and Mari was so sweet yet very sexy. I loved the little “swept up in passion” moments between these two and I will say that Lenora Bell knows how to write a sexy kissing scene….very swoon-worthy. I did find that these two have much more in common as individuals when you take away the titles and formalities and the difference in background and stations. There is an emotional bond that forms between them that is endearing and poignant. A pure delight to read to leave you feeling those happy feels that only Lenora Bell delivers to her readers.