Isabella Bradford -- real name Susan Holloway Scott -- knows her history. I have long enjoyed the blog she writes, with the incomparable Loretta Chase, www.twonerdyhistorygirls.com. Having written many historical novels, including several set in Restoration England, she has now set her hand to historical romance set smack in the middle of Georgian England.
I was prepared to be impressed, but alas this was not to be. When You Wish Upon a Duke
is a perfectly okay story, but there's really not much there there.
Lady Charlotte Wylder enters into an arranged marriage with the Duke of Marchbourne. She's been raised in the country by her widowed mother and is a bit of a hoyden; she is determined, however, to become a perfect duchess. March, on the other hand, while young has been a duke for years, and he seems to have no vices. March is the great-grandson of a king (not named, but it would be a fictitious Charles II), via his actress mistress, and even three generations on is still sensitive about his illegitimate origins. Hence, he conducts himself with utmost propriety.
Most of the novel revolves around their problems adjusting to their changed circumstances, especially in the bedroom. After a incendiary wedding night encounter, he suddenly becomes distant and proper. Charlotte, seeking advice from her dragon-aunt, is advised to conduct herself in the bedroom as a lady. In other words, lie back and think of England. Obviously, this does not produce satisfaction, although they do share a growing attachment and love for one another.
The story of how they work things out is very sweet, but it just isn't enough to carry an entire novel. Realizing this, perhaps, the author throws in a bit of scandal involving a notorious marquess, a duel, and babies. It is too little, and way too late, though.
Bradford's writing is so good, and her grasp of the historical setting so adept, however, that I'm sure to read the next installment, as Charlotte's younger sister finds herself in company with yet another duke.