The Trouble with Being a Duke
At the Kingsborough Ball #1
Author: Sophie Barnes
Published: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Avon Books
Source: Avon Addicts
Purchase Links: Amazon - Barnes & Noble
Sometimes happily ever after…
Anthony Hurst, Duke of Kingsborough knows the time has come for him to produce an heir. But first he must find a bride. When he meets the most exquisite woman at his masquerade ball, he thinks his search is over…until the breathtaking beauty runs off. With few clues other than her figure, her scent, and the memory of her kiss, Anthony must find his mystery lady.
…needs a little bit of help.
Isabella Chilcott can scarcely believe it: she is finally at the Kingsborough Ball. As a child, she dreamed of dancing a waltz here and now, thanks to a gorgeous gown she’s found in the attic, Isabella is living her fairytale fantasy. And she’s waltzing with the Duke of Kingsborough himself! But she must escape before he discovers her secrets…for she is not who she pretends to be, and falling in love with Prince Charming is the last thing she can allow herself to do…
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Confession time again - I seem to be doing this a lot lately. I'm not quite sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing... Anyhoo, back to my confession. One of the reasons behind my "read more historical romance" is because Avon sent us a handful of historicals in our last Avon Addicts box. Devine intervention maybe? When I saw The Trouble with Being a Duke for the first time, it sounded like it would be a great book for me to start off with. I was right. I absolutely adored this book! I loved the Cinderella elements in the book. The pumpkin carriage and the slipper ice sculpture made me giddy. I loved how persistent Anthony was with Isabella. They had an immediate connection at the Ball. Anthony is a sneaky Duke. All through the night he sneaks glances at Isabella. He steals a couple risqué dances with her. He even steals a rather steamy kiss in his library. When she sneaks off during the fireworks, Anthony is beside himself. He has to find Isabella and find out if they could have a future together. Awww!
I'm not giving anything else away because you have to read this book. If you love historical romances or Cinderella fairytale romances, then you'll fawn over this one. The characters were so loveable. I even liked Isabella "almost fiancé" Mr. Roberts. Yes, he had questionable motives for agreeing to marry Isabella, but he more than redeemed himself in the end. I would love to see him find the error in his ways and fall in love. Please? Sophie? Can this happen? *grin* The Trouble with Being a Duke is the first in a new series of three books that start off at the same Ball. I am really looking forward to the 2nd book in the series and reading more of Sophie's books in the future.
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❤ Get to Know the Newest Addition to the Avon Family: ❤
❤ Five Questions for Sophie Barnes ❤
❤ Romance authors seem to have an unending love-affair with fairytales. Why do you think that is—and what drew you to this much-loved fairytale?
When it comes to romance, we all long for the hero and heroine to live happily ever after. The greater the obstacles in their way, the greater our tendency to cheer them on, and let’s face it, Cinderella did not have it easy. I think I was drawn to this particular fairy-tale partly because it’s one of my all-time favorites, but also because it centers on something we can all relate to – the wish for a once in a lifetime opportunity to make our dreams come true. Compared to other fairy-tales, it’s probably also the one that’s easiest to adapt to everyday life. We can remove the fairy godmother and her magic wand without compromising the heart of the story. What we’re left with, is a young woman trapped in a difficult situation. When she’s offered the chance of a happily ever after, we want her to succeed, perhaps because inside every one of us there’s a little bit of Cinderella – that wish…what if?
❤ The Kingsborough Ball turns out to be a lively affair, to say the least: gunshots, fireworks, scandals and stolen kisses abound! Where did you come up with the idea to create a whole series revolving around one, glorious evening?
To be honest, it all began with an idea for a short novella with Cinderella as the underlying theme. After submitting my proposal, my lovely editor called, offering me a three book deal instead. I felt like I’d won the lottery, so in a way that was definitely a “Cinderella moment” for me. I no longer had a novella to write, but three full-length novels. While they would all have the Kingsborough Ball as a back drop, I wanted each story to be capable of standing alone without the reader feeling as if they were re-reading the previous story from a different character’s perspective. To achieve this, I gave all the heroes and heroines one event they would all have in common – the Kingsborough Ball shooting. Outside of that, they all have their own separate stories to live, each with their own obstacles and villains.
❤ You’ve had something of a fairytale romance yourself—getting married to the same man three different times in three different dresses is sigh-inducing and swoon-worthy. Do you draw on your own experiences in love and marriage when you write?
Absolutely. It says on my website that my heroes are based on my husband, and that’s definitely true. He has helped me so much by offering me an insight into how a man would react or what he might say in a given situation, and in fact, many of the dialogues between my heroes and heroines are based on conversations that he and I have had. Additionally, we know how wonderful it is to be together and how difficult it is to be apart. When I write, I draw on these emotions. In fact, I believe that being married and knowing what it’s like to care about someone else so deeply, to constantly worry about their welfare, makes me a better writer.
❤ You’re the first historical romance author to migrate from Avon Impulse’s digital-first to Avon’s printed line. What was your publishing journey like?
It truly has been a whirlwind experience - I’ve achieved a lot in a very short time, but I’ve also worked extremely hard at it. Four years ago, I wrote to one of my all-time favorite authors in regards to one of her books. In my email, I mentioned that I was living in Ghana and that I was working on a manuscript (How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back). She responded with something along the lines of, “how interesting – one of the editors at Avon (aka, the fabulous Esi Sogah) is from Ghana.” A year passed and I moved back to the US, upon which I wrote to this wonderful author again, inquiring if there was any chance at all that she might be able to put me in touch with Esi directly. Naturally, I expected a categorical “no”, but as I’ve since come to discover, everyone in the romance book industry is so sweet and helpful. Esi wrote to me shortly after asking to see my manuscript, and in August 2011 I received my first offer.
❤ What’s next for Sophie Barnes and The Kingsborough Ball?
I’m currently working on the third book in the series which will be a friends to lovers story in which the assassin at the ball is revealed. This one will have a few twists and turns as our heroine finds herself in mortal danger and the hero sets out to rescue her. I think readers will be surprised by the villain’s identity – at least I hope they will, because it’s going to be someone completely unexpected. Once that wraps up I’ve a whole bunch of story ideas to work on. I’ll have to decide which one of them to pick for my next proposal.
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Excerpt from Chapter 1:
“It’s time, Mama,” Anthony Hurst, the seventh Duke of Kingsborough, said as he strode toward one of the tall windows in his mother’s bedroom and pulled aside the heavy velvet curtains, flooding the space with a bright beam of sunshine. Pausing for a moment, he looked out at the garden. The crocuses were beginning to bloom, adding a cheerful display of yellow and lilac to the dreary winter landscape.
“Why must you disturb me?”
Anthony turned at the sound of his mother’s voice, gritting his teeth at the lifelessness in it. He hated the morose atmosphere that had swamped Kingsborough Hall for the past year, and he hated how difficult it was proving to move past it. “It’s been thirteen months, Mama—that’s long enough.”
His mother, still dressed in her widow’s weeds, sighed from her seat in the corner, her light blue eyes squinting in the brightness as he pulled aside yet another curtain. Black did not suit her—it made her look pallid and brought out the silver streaks of gray in her hair. She had aged dramatically during the final stage of her husband’s life. It was almost five years since the first symptom of illness had surfaced—a lump in the former duke’s armpit. Three physicians had been consulted, all of them advising immediate surgery, and with no desire to meet a speedy end, the Duke of Kingsborough had complied.
Anthony knew it had been a painful procedure, and yet it had only been the first of several. So it had come as no surprise when his father had eventually called him into his study to say that he had refused further treatment—but it had still been bloody hard to hold back the tears in the face of such defeat, knowing without doubt what his father’s decision had meant.
A month later, however, the condition hadn’t worsened, and Anthony had begun to hope that perhaps it never would. But then, as if from one day to the next, his father’s health had declined with startling rapidity. Nothing could have been worse than looking on helplessly while a loved one had withered away and died, his body wracked by pain at every hour of both day and night. Even the memory of it was unbearable.
“Is that all?” His mother’s tiny voice was weak, forcing a wince from Anthony as he went over to her and gently took her delicate hand in his. “It seems like an eternity.”
“Mama,” he whispered, kneeling beside her, his heart aching for the woman who had once been so full of life. “So much more reason for us to end this.”
Her eyes met his with the same degree of hopelessness that he too had felt for so long. His father had always been so strong and healthy—the sort of man that everyone had thought would outlive them all. Suffering through his deterioration, inheriting his title and eventually taking his place as duke had been far from easy for Anthony. It was now more than a year since they had laid him to rest, and Anthony had decided that it was finally time for all of them to start living again. With that in mind, he had an idea that he hoped would capture his mother’s enthusiasm. “We shall host an event,” he announced, in a voice that sounded too old and serious for his own liking.
“An event?” His mother looked as if she’d much rather crawl back into bed and draw the covers over her head than listen to one more word of what he had to say.
“Not just any event, Mama,” he said, determined to make her listen and even more determined to uncover the woman who lay dormant somewhere beneath her beaten-down exterior. He knew she was there—somewhere. “It’s the end of February already, but if we hurry, we can probably manage to arrange a house party in time for Easter.” He saw that his mother was about to protest and quickly added, “It could commence with one of your infamous balls.”
She stilled for a moment as she stared back at him, time stretching out between them until he doubted she would ever respond. He was trying to think of something to say to break the silence when he saw her stir, understanding flickering behind her eyes. “We haven’t had one of those in years, Anthony. Do you really suppose . . .” Her words trailed off, but not with defeat this time. Anthony couldn’t help but notice a slight crease upon her brow. She was thinking—quite furiously, judging from the fact that she was now chewing on her lower lip. Her eyes gradually sharpened, and she leaned forward in her seat. “Perhaps it will help bring the family back together.”
Anthony certainly hoped so.
When his father had stopped fighting for his life, it had not taken long before his sister Louise had married and removed herself to her new home. Anthony had not questioned her motives at the time. She had been of a marriageable age (though perhaps a bit young), the Earl of Huntley had clearly been in a position to offer her the standard of living she’d been raised to expect, and Anthony had given the couple his blessing without much thought on the matter.
The truth of it was, compared to everything else he’d been faced with at the time—his father’s imminent demise, the payment of physicians’ bills that kept arriving daily, and his ever-increasing duties in regard to running the estate—his sister’s hasty decision to marry had been more of an inconvenience than anything else.
It was not until after his father had died that he’d wondered if she’d perhaps been looking for a means of escape, some justifiable reason not to face the devastating truth looming over them all on a daily basis. Of course she’d visited a number of times, but she’d given herself a viable excuse to leave whenever she’d had enough. Anthony couldn’t blame her. There had been times when he had longed to flee from it all himself.
His brother, Winston, had been more reliable. He was two years younger than Anthony, had married Sarah the vicar’s daughter at the age of only twenty, and was now the delighted father of twin boys. To support his growing family, he ran a small publishing house that he’d started with the financial support of their father. Of course there had been those who’d disapproved of a gentleman making such a career choice, but Winston’s love for books had prevented him from swaying in his decision, and his father had given his support—a clear sign that he’d considered his son’s happiness more important than seeking the approval of his peers and a perfect example of the sort of man he’d been.
Though based in London, Winston had still managed to make the three-hour journey to Moxley once a week throughout their father’s illness. But with Papa now gone, Winston was busy applying himself to the growth of his business, and he didn’t visit Moxley as often as he had. Anthony understood his brother’s reasoning, of course. He just missed him. That was all.
“I must speak with Mrs. Sterling immediately,” his mother suddenly pronounced, startling Anthony out of his reverie. His eyes focused on her, and he noticed that there was a rather resolute expression about her eyes.
Anthony blinked. A moment earlier, she had looked as though a single puff of air would have overturned her. Now, instead, her back straightened and she gave a firm nod before pulling her hand away from his and rising to her feet.
This was what he had hoped for, but he had never imagined how quickly his mother would rally when faced with a project so large that it would require her immediate attention. To be honest, he had feared she might feel overwhelmed and that it would only serve to cripple her even further.
Clearly this was not the case, for not only had she already rung for her maid but she had also begun pacing about the room, checking off on her fingers all the items that would need addressing, all the while complaining about the limited amount of time Anthony had afforded her to prepare for such a grand event.
“We shall have to send out invitations immediately,” she gushed between mention of a possible ice sculpture and her thoughts regarding the flower arrangements that would have to be ordered.
Anthony’s head began to hurt, but he was pleased with the result of his plan. What he hadn’t mentioned, simply because he’d had no desire to excite his mother any further, was that he intended to use the event as a means to improve his acquaintance with the young ladies his mother undoubtedly meant to invite. His father’s demise had put everything into perspective for him, forcing him to realize just how fragile life could be. He needed an heir, and there was really no better time to start planning for one.
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There are 3 prizes for this blog tour, and all commenters on ANY of the stops are eligible. 2 runner ups will get a signed copy of LADY ALEXANDRA’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, and one lucky winner will get 1 “gold” filigree masquerade mask, 1 golden silk scarf, 1 crystal beaded necklace, 1 Victorian style soap-box and soap, 1 signed copy of TROUBLE WITH BEING THE DUKE, 3 book marks, 3 magnets, 1 tote bag, and a digital book bundle including: HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK, LADY ALEXANDRA’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, & FIVE GOLDEN RINGS.
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An Avon Addicts Blog Tour!
Fri 8/23: The Jeep Diva
Sat 8/24: Ramblings From This Chick
Sun 8/25:Truly Simply Pink
Mon 8/26: Rakes Rogues and Romance
Tue 8/27: At the Corner of First and Romance
Fri 8/30: Doing Some Reading
Sat 8/31: Teatime Romance
Sun 9/1:Crystal Blogs Books
Mon 9/2:Snarky Mamma
Tue 9/3: Brunette Librarian
Wed 9/4: Herding Cats & Burning Soup
Fri 9/6:Bitten by Love Reviews
Sat 9/7:Caffeinated Book Reviewer