About the Book:
Title: The Duke and the Dressmaker
Author: Eva Devon
Series: Once Upon a Wallflower
Page Length: 223
Publication Date: Sept. 4, 2023
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Synopsis: Dressmaker Miss Lily Martin knows too well the sordid dealings of London’s corrupt underbelly. She should have known borrowing from one of the city’s most reviled moneylenders was risky. Horribly so. Now the loan has come due—and there’s nothing standing between Miss Lily and her darling sister’s ruin. Until a dashing American with flashing, defiant eyes intervenes…
Ship captain James Blakefield may be the new Duke of Ashbridge, but he’s only in London for six weeks to secure his estate before returning to America, and far from the watchful eye of the ton. He’ll be damned if he’ll attend another society event where eligible ladies fling themselves at his title. But when he discovers Miss Lily’s desperate predicament, James realizes he might have the perfect arrangement.
By assuming the legal guardianship of Lily’s sister, he can keep them both safe and ensure someone cares for the estate. But it means having Lily under the same roof for the next six weeks. No chaperones. No betrothal. As their undeniable attraction charges the very air between them, both propriety and restraint are threatened. But scandal is the least of their concerns when James’s secret threatens to pull everything apart at the seams…
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The Duke and the Dressmaker is a wonderful addition to the Once Upon a Wallflower series. I adored Lily, a talented designer and seamstress with aspirations of owning her own business, and James, an American who recently learned he is a Duke. After fleeing France ten years ago, Lily cares for nothing more than her little sister, and James, as the new Duke, has become her ward. Seeing the dire position Lily and her sister are in, James has the perfect arrangement. They can live on his estate, Lily can take care of it and her sister, and James can go back to America where he is expected in six weeks.
Lily and James are both such wonderful characters, and their romance is just as lovely. They’re both so selfless and strong. James is such an honorable man, and his intentions are always good, but he bumbles a bit when it comes to his feelings for Lily. The pair has an instant connection, but several obstacles stand in their way. It’s interesting to see how they handle societal judgment and expectations, their feelings for each other, their individual goals, and their fears.
Several times in the story, Lily finds herself in difficult predicaments. All James wants to do is protect Lily, but she wants to take care of herself and solve her own problems as she always has. Their tragic backstories and observations of love and marriage have closed them off to the idea, and they are unwilling to let romantic interests get too close. But even though they are both afraid of love and intimacy, they can’t deny their growing feelings. I love that they both grow and change and take risks because of their love for each other. I also love that everyone can see how they feel about each other except them. It makes for some comical and heartwarming scenes.
Something else I found really interesting is the historical elements. Since James is American, Lily grew up in France, and the story is set in England, we learn a lot about the different cultures and what was happening politically and socially at that time. It’s interesting to see how different countries felt about each other and how political and social situations affected the characters. Both James and Lily are treated differently because of their origins and social status, and they discuss how different their countries are. It added depth and context to the setting, which I appreciated.
Though this is the second book in the Once Upon a Wallflower series, it’s easily read as a standalone. However, if you did read the first book, The Beast and the Bookseller, you’ll be as excited as me to see Elizabeth, Garrett, and a few other faves. A bit of time has passed since the conclusion of their story, and it’s so wonderful to see what’s been happening with Elizabeth and her new husband. And Garrett and James together are fantastic! They are opposites in many ways, but they make a good team, and their sparring scene, as well as their other scenes together, is so fun.
I’m also really curious about some of the new characters introduced in the book, including Lily’s sister and James’s closest friend. James’s friend has a big personality, and I’m hoping we’ll see more of him in future books in the series!
Special thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The romance.
- The history.
- The characters.
He caught Lily’s gaze on him. The look in her eyes – it stole his breath. And for one moment, he was certain he’d never be able to look away, but rather fall into those depths, where he would either drown… or find himself.
- marriage of convenience