One Dance with a Duke Tessa Dare Ballantine, $7.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-345-51885-9
This standout Regency romance, the first in Dare’s Stud Club trilogy, matches an unlikely heroine with an arrogant, secretive duke. Plump, plain, and poor, spinster Amelia d’Orsay is astonished when Spencer Dumarque, duke of Morland and a famously handsome and wealthy bachelor, literally sweeps her off her feet and out the door at a London ball. The news of a friend’s unexpected death leads them on a significant detour, and Amelia returns home at dawn. Deciding others will believe Amelia compromised after a night in his company, Spencer asks for her hand, leading to a hasty, often conflicted, and deeply passionate marriage. Amelia’s imperfections endear her to both the reader and her husband, while Spencer’s complexity of character sets him well beyond the typical aristocrat and a little bit of a murder mystery adds the perfect finishing touch. (June)
I can’t tell you how unbelievably happy this makes me. Little stars, be they gold or red, never lose their thrill, from preschool onward. Also, I know a positive review in PW gives cash-strapped librarians a little extra motivation to order the book for their collections, and that is good for cash-strapped readers.