Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I always sleep naked.”
“Not with me you don’t.”
“As this was the first time we slept together, I did not realize we had established protocol.”
Alyse Bell was sold into marriage when her father gave her to a friend in the hopes she would be protected after he passed away. Having reached her maturity, she is ready to start her future with her best friend who promised to come back and take her away. Only, he never arrives and her “husband” arranges for the auction to continue so he can marry another. As she stands on the auction block in the center of town, a rope around her neck like chattel and fuming in silence as she watches those she considers her friends and family bidding on her like a fatted calf, a handsome stranger rides into the square and places the winning bid.
Marcus Weatherton (The Scandal of it All) left London after discovering his stepmother was in love with his best friend and his fiancee dumped him for his illegitimate brother. Waking up in jail after an all-night bender, Marcus heads out of town out only to happen upon an auction where a young woman is being sold to the highest bidder. Shocked and outraged by the scene, Marcus intervenes only to discover he didn’t buy her freedom…he bought a wife.
Expecting gratitude, he instead gets attitude and decides to take her to his estate in Scotland and set her up as his housekeeper. But the road to redemption is long and a series of misadventures and close calls shows Marcus that life often gifts you with what you need when you least expect it.
Marcus, the fifth Duke of Autenberry, woke up with a startled jolt face-down in horse shit… So begins the third novel in Sophie Jordan’s Rogue Files series-The Duke Buys a Bride. Delightfully witty and overflowing with snark, guilt, pride, and sexual tension, Jordan writes a compelling and bittersweet story that addresses the lack of female agency and one man’s abrupt awakening to his own privilege. Laughter and a few heart-pinching moments firmly engages the reader as Jordan weaves an opposite attraction romance that delights and enchants from page one.
I love opposite attraction and marriages of convenience, especially when the couple are strong-willed, decidedly independent, and well versed in the art of witty repertoire. Alyce knows her place in the world and has accepted it for the time being because she’s always has a plan. When her plan falls through, she adjusts and adapts. Something women have been doing for ages. Married at a very young age, she was essentially a nanny to the older man’s children and a caretaker for him. It was a tolerable situation because Alyse knew it wouldn’t last forever. Having planned to marry her childhood sweetheart, she is once again denied her voice when he runs away, leaving her at the mercy of the town and her soon-no-to-be husband.
He was supposed to take her with him. He had promised they would begin a life together […] He had agreed. But he left. He had abandoned her. Left her to be auctioned off, sold to any man with the whim to buy her.
Purchased by a stranger, Alyse is determined to use her latest situation to her advantage as they head towards his estate. She attempts to engage Marcus only to find a stubborn, grumpy, and rather stinky man whose speech and carriage tell her he’s not from around there and of a much higher social setting.
“Where are you from?”
A beat of silence passed before he answered. “England.”
“I hear the highlands are lovely any time of year. I imagine covered in snow they are quite majestic.”
At last, he asked in a wearied voice, “Do you plan to talk the entire journey?”
“Have you an aversion to conversation, sir? We will be in each others company for a long time and I thought it might help.”
“Help? With what? I don’t require pointless banter.”
Pointless banter? She huffed out a foggy breath. The man did not win points for charm.
So begins their battle of wits.
Alyse and Marcus are an amusingly prickly couple, tossed together by circumstance. Alyse just wants the freedom long denied her and Marcus wants to be left alone to wallow in his misery. A reluctant hero, Marcus is caught between wanting to save the fair maiden but now that he has, he is unsure what to do with her. His own childhood and a series of blows he has suffered in London has left him weary and disillusioned. He denies the chemistry he feels between them, unable to accept this young woman may be his destiny. Alyse herself has no illusions about Marcus or even romance in general. She has been disappointed so many times. She knows she is not for him and is put out when he cleans up and she can see exactly who he is.
Dear God. This was the man who bought her. Her employer. He’d bathed, shaved, and was positily transformed. He was…beautiful. No, no, no, no. He could not be this. He could not look like this. She could not be stuck with…this.
A series of mishaps follow them on their way to his estate; from sickness to kidnapping, they push their way forward. Marcus fluctuates between bemoaning his situation to worrying about her every step of the way. He repeatedly finds himself in compromising situations with her only to back away and cry foul. He refuses to legitimize their marriage, though when she is abducted, he discovers he cannot live let her go. She has become more than a duty…a burden. She had become a person he cared about.
Their first night together he had simply climbed into bed with her, giving her little thought. Them she was nothing more than a woman he had bought at auction. Someone he had taken pity on and helped through a difficult time.
Now she was something more.
No longer a stranger.
An eclectic cast of secondary characters gives the book some depth and provides amusement. I enjoyed seeing Marcus’ brother and his wife. Alyse’s friend/stepdaughter Nellie was a fierce one and I loved her protective nature. Some minor issues left me a little berate though didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment. I do wish the focus hadn’t been totally on just this couple. I would have enjoyed seeing some resolution from what happened in London though Jordan hints at some reconciliation on that front while preparing the way for the next book concerning Marcus’s sister.
The Duke Buys A Bride is another grand adventure from Sophie Jordan and an entertaining addition to this series.