by Julia London

June 2006
ISBN: 1-4165-1615-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Pocket Books
Mass Market Paperback

The three Fairchild relatives are used to luxury and high society. Sisters Ava and Phoebe, along with their cousin Greer, have grown up together with every advantage available to young women of polite society. However, all that changes after the death of Ava and Phoebe’s mother. Depressed, and in mourning, the girls get one more rude awakening when they discover that Ava and Phoebe’s stepfather has run away to France with their fortune, leaving them destitute. Suddenly, the once bright and shining gems of the Ton, the Fairchilds are now nothing but poor relations. However, Ava has a plan to save them all. She’ll marry Jared Broderick, the Marquis of Middleton.

Jared is sick to death of his father’s incessant rumblings to get married and provide an heir. His father is trying to arrange Jared’s marriage to a girl from an excellent family; however, Jared is having none of that. When he learns of Ava’s reduced circumstances, Jared knows the choice is obvious. Marriage to a woman only his father seems to like, or marriage to a woman who is everything warm and personable and for whom he is already forming a genuine affection? Thus begins the engagement of Ava and Jared. For this pair, passion and love will not remain elusive. But can Jared accept his growing feelings for Ava? Or will the romantic Ava have to settle for a proper marriage?

The Hazards of Hunting a Duke is the first book in Julia London’s Desperate Debutantes series. It pits the ideas of a forced and loveless marriage against the ideas of a romantic and everlasting marriage. Ms. London is a master at creating dichotomies in her stories, and Ava and Jared’s love story is no different. Both have some hard decisions to make about what kind of marriage they’d like, and what kind of future they would like together. There are no easy answers, as they come to find out, but both Jared and Ava do not shy from challenges, so watching them succumb to love is that much sweeter because of their strong personalities.

Though the plot is relatively straightforward, the emotions and tests Ava and Jared face together are definitely not. The delicate balance between love, duty and the heart is examined through this captivating tale. The gruff Jared and the dreamy Ava will easily work their way into readers’ hearts. Ms. London has penned a compelling drama that will leave you wondering what is in store for the rest of the Fairchild family.

Reviewed in May 2006 by Sarah.

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