Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne is a man with a mission: find a wife he can tolerate as long as they both shall live. Love is not necessary–nor desired. But how to choose among a dizzying array of wealthy-yet-witless candidates? Hire London's infamously prim and proper matchmaker. Then pretend she's not the most captivating woman he's ever met…
Helping a devilish Duke create a contest to pick his perfect mate is the kind of challenge Tessa Mansfield relishes. Her methods may be scandalous, but she's determined to find the notorious bachelor more than a wife–she'll bring him true love.
Yet when Tessa watches the women vie for the Duke's affections, she longs to win his heart herself. And after a stolen kiss confirms Tristan's desire, Tessa knows she has broken a matchmaker's number one rule: never fall in love with the groom.
And here is Polished Bookworm's review:
With a sub-genre as saturated as Regency-era romance, authors often look for a new twist on an old formula. This book takes the premise of The Bachelor and sets it in 1816 – twenty-four debutantes vying for the hand of the Duke through organized rounds of courting and candidate eliminations.
From the moment they met over the demise of an ugly fan, I adored Tristan and Tessa. The fact that Tristan wasn't looking to settle into the typical passionless aristocratic marriage earned him top marks from me: “I want to want my wife.” *sigh* Bonus points for only finding Tessa's lips 'plump' and the rest of her just right, despite what others may think. I like me a hero who appreciates curves. Tessa herself was independent, intelligent and not at all missish.
The conflict in this story didn't feel forced. I loved the way Tessa dealt with a despicable cad from her past. I almost applauded aloud when she went to Tristan when the scoundrel took his villainy too far. Tessa and Tristan's feelings and reactions to the situation felt natural and refreshing– they actually talked through their problems (rare in a genre where a 'big misunderstanding' is de rigueur).
Unfortunately, every time the 'bridal competition' was mentioned I was immediately pulled out of the story. Speedy courting? Really? The entire Bachelor scenario didn't work for me – it felt too modern, as did Tessa's concern over her matchmaking 'career'. This book was funny, sexy and engaging enough to be different without The Bachelor treatment.