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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great except for a few misgivings.
I finished reading this book today, and on one hand, I really loved it. I thought the writing was fantastic and the relationship between the main characters was great, but I wasn't so sure about the ending. There were subtle hints throughout the story about her background that I thought were really confusing until the truth came out. In my mind, I thought the twist at the...
Published on May 2, 2008 by LindsayS

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it until an unexpected development spoiled the ending
Regency romances are my guilty pleasure and this one started out well. The characters were interesting and the writing was good. The least physically attractive of three cousins competing for an inheritance by being the first to marry a Duke, Sophie had given up on making an advantageous marriage and had decided to enjoy the one Season she was ever likely to have. She...
Published on May 14, 2008 by Marsha Miller


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it until an unexpected development spoiled the ending, May 14, 2008
By 
Marsha Miller (Wilmington, DE United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Regency romances are my guilty pleasure and this one started out well. The characters were interesting and the writing was good. The least physically attractive of three cousins competing for an inheritance by being the first to marry a Duke, Sophie had given up on making an advantageous marriage and had decided to enjoy the one Season she was ever likely to have. She struck up an unlikely friendship with Graham, her chaperone's young, handsome male cousin but ever realistic, did not expect romance. He enjoys her intelligence and wit and their time together is a welcome break from the ton activities he is often immersed in. Then Graham unexpectedly becomes a Duke and inherits crushing debt along with the title. He seeks a marriage of convenience to an heiress -- which could be Sophie if they marry quickly -- but she can't tell him of the inheritance. The two struggle with their feelings for each other and their responsibilities.

Sophie is a person of character and that is the key to why the reader likes her and hopes for her happiness. Suddenly, there is an astonishing revelation in the book for which there has been no real foreshadowing; the author doesn't play fair with her readers. This new information calls Sophie's character into question and it ruined the book for me. I felt like I didn't know Sophie after all and felt resentment that the 'story' I'd been following wasn't the real story at all. The book would have been much, much better without this revelation. I would have liked to have seen it replaced with some chapters about the two of them making a marriage work and rebuilding the Duke's estate.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great except for a few misgivings., May 2, 2008
I finished reading this book today, and on one hand, I really loved it. I thought the writing was fantastic and the relationship between the main characters was great, but I wasn't so sure about the ending. There were subtle hints throughout the story about her background that I thought were really confusing until the truth came out. In my mind, I thought the twist at the end was completely unnecessary and a bit too dramatic. What's worse, is that it made the main character a lot less likable. She went from being totally grounded and interesting to this unpractical risk taker. There were also secondary characters that were too unimportant to have been given their own separate stories. This is just my opinion. I don't want it to stop people from reading the book, because I thought it was really entertaining and a lot better than the other Regency books i've read lately. All in all, it think it's worth investing in the money and the time to read it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Plot twist spoiled the book, May 28, 2008
By 
As a reader of historical romances for the past 25 years, I have never been so let down by what started as a good book. The characters were engaging, though immature, but I was enjoying the story...until the plot twist. What was the purpose? Why let us 'get to know' the heroine, and then throw us a ridiculous curveball? I will never waste my time or money on this author again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 1/2 stars: a wonderfully romantic read in spite of the unexpected twist..., May 26, 2008
By 
tregatt (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
In my reading experience, usually the last installment in a trilogy or series is not always the best. The best is generally the first where the concept and characters are the freshest. Not in this case though. Celeste Bradley's The Heiress Brides ends on a particularly high note with "Duke Most Wanted" and is, in my opinion, the best installment of the three.

Of the three Pickering cousins, Sophie Blake, who everyone considered plain beyond redemption and so unmarriageable, was the only cousin who had come to London not to find a duke and so win her grandfather's bequest, but in order to escape the drudgery of her life with her demanding and peevish mother in Acton. And now that her beautiful cousin, Deirdre, has married the Duke of Brookmoor's elder son, bookish and intellectual Sophie feels that she is free to enjoy herself reading books, translating and spending time with the one gentleman she has lost her heart to, Lord Graham Cavendish. Handsome, charming, almost penniless and a womaniser, Graham doesn't see Sophie as a romantic prospect but as a good friend he can relax and have conversation with. And Sophie is almost content to let things remain as they are. That is until Graham's father and his elder brothers unexpectedly die, and Graham finds himself the new penniless Duke of Edencourt. Now, Graham must marry for money or else loose his lands and his home. Can Sophie allow Graham to marry another, or will she decide to finally compete for Graham's love and attention?

I enjoyed "Duke Most Wanted" quite a bit. Like a few of the other reviewers, I didn't think think that the plot twist was necessary. This novel really hinges on the strong and winning character of Sophie Blake. I thoroughly enjoyed all the scenes between Sophie and Graham, they were filled with wit, humour and sexual tension that was quite delicious. Did the unexpected plot twist, darkly hinted at throughout the novel, do the novel irretrievable harm? I don't think so; but I do think that it might have been a much stronger read without it (as well as the inevitable last few chapters when character from the previous two books turn up to tie things up neatly -- and really I could have done without the reappearance of Calder's precocious child, Meggie). All in all, however, "Duke Most Wanted" was an enjoyable and rather wonderfully romantic read. Both Sophie and Graham were wonderful romantic leads, with a story worthy of them. Definitely worth recommending.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the series., May 12, 2008
I just finished this book, and while I admit that the twist near the end was disconcerting, I preferred it over the other two in this series.
Graham has a depth that the other two male characters lacked.
He also lacked the incredible growing male member that I found to be ridiculous in the first two books.
Sophie had a realistic attitude which I found refreshing.
I liked the fact that she was considered to be the ugly ducking of the heiress trio, and could readily identify with her.
I was also pleased to read more of the story about Fortesque and Patricia.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hated the surprise ending, June 12, 2008
By 
This review is from: Duke Most Wanted (Heiress Brides) (Kindle Edition)
I really enjoyed this book until the surprise ending.

This is an ugly duckling into a swan story. I always enjoy what I call the great make over. I love it when the hero suddenly sees his friend in a new light for the first time and then....

Then the author has to go and destroy it all with a surprise ending out of no where. It compeletly changed the way I viewed the heroine, and not for the better. I found my self really disliking the heroine at the end of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars delightful Regency romance, May 17, 2008
In 1815 only one of the three cousins remain single with a chance to inherit the Pickering fortune, but bookworm too tall and clumsy twenty-seven year old Sophie is uninterested in their late grandfather's fortune nor in marriage as she assumes she is on the shelf for life that is if she does not inelegantly fall off. Instead she is having the time of her life especially with her friendship with Graham, the youngest son of a duke with four older brothers.

However, when his father and a brother die, Graham reconsiders his carefree lifestyle and decides he needs a bride. He wants intelligent witty Sophie as his wife. However, Sophie who has always considered herself plain cannot believe her buddy desires her even with fashion tips turning her into a beauty.

The final Heiress Brides tale (see DESPERATELY SEEKING A DUKE and THE DUKE NEXT DOOR) is a delightful Regency romance. The key threads from the previous books are completed and a fabulous twist involving a crooked lethal lawyer (no oxymoron joke intended) adds depth as Phoebe and Deirdre return to help their cousin get her man. Celeste Bradley spins a winner as even the ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan due to an early nineteenth century makeover seems right.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny.... but A few problems, June 4, 2008
By 
LuvGirl (New York ,NY USA) - See all my reviews
This book started off pretty good. It was funny, witty, and the characters were interesting. I laughed out loud many times! Sophie was my favorite character because I liked the fact that she was A woman that went after what she wanted. Who did she want? [Graham] and she also wanted the fortune that her grandfather willed to the first of his granddaughters to marry A duke, and since Graham just secured that title, with the help of A friend she became the woman who could fufill those two desires.

Graham was A likable hero but I didn't buy into the fact that he was A rake and his character was not developed enough. I really didn't understand the conflict he had with his family and I felt that his hatred towards them was unreasonable.

The twist in the end was shocking. I was not expecting it. I thought that it gave the story A nice surprise, but what bothered me was that Graham was not able to forgive Sophie until the fortune was secured. I wish that he would have proven himself to still want her without the fortune.

There was only one love scene and the sensuality was five out of ten. I started to lose interest in the book close to the end and I found myself rushing to the finish but it was not A bad book, especially if you love to laugh.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great until the plot twist, July 19, 2008
This is a book that begins very well. Sophie and Graham started to be friends in the last book, and Bradley develops very well the transition from friendship to love.
It's also well written the development of Graham's character, because he becomes a Duke after the sudden and unexpected dead of his father and brothers --it's a very hilarious scene, although there's nothing laughable about death, but it was written in such a way....
Graham must grow up fast, considering the sorry state the finances and the properties of the dukedom are in.
The only 'but', and a very big 'but' is a plot twist towards the end of the book, completely unexpected, illogical and out of place. It almost seems as if the author felt the necessity to put a 'big misunderstanding', 'conflict' or 'something' to complicate the HEA.
It's a pity, because until that, the book was really great, and the twist ruins it.
The only 'good' thing about it, it's that it doesn't drag eternally and doesn't cause lots and lots of problems. At least it gets resolved pretty quickly.

Despite this, Duke most wanted is the book I enjoyed most in a trilogy as easy to read as to forget.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not My Favorite of the Series, July 19, 2008
By 
M. Rondeau (West Springfield, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This third and final book of Celeste Bradley's Heiress Brides trilogy focuses on the last of the three cousins and granddaughters of Hamish Pickering who have tried to win the sizeable Pickering Trust by marrying a duke. Sophie Blake is plain, bookish, and awkward, which suits her fine as she never assumed she would marry; coming to London only to escape the drudgery of Acton. Everyone knows her beautiful cousin Deidre has very nearly won the prize having married a man who will soon inherit the title of duke. Instead Sophie can simply sit back and enjoy the company of Graham the only man she's ever felt completely at ease and comfortable with.

Out of the blue, Graham the fourth son of a duke gains the title along with a mountain of debt and an estate so neglected it would take a miracle to bring it back from ruin. Graham needs to find a wealthy wife ASAP. Sophie who has fallen in love with Graham, knows she can save him but he's never looked at her romantically and she can't tell him the conditions of winning the Trust or she would forfeit it. With the help of a kindred spirit, Sophie gets a dazzling makeover that makes her a star attraction, but the only one she wants to attract is Graham.

*** This last of the series could almost be called a Cinderella story, where a fairy godmother appears to turn the ugly duckling into the proverbial swan. Sophie had not come to London with any intention of marrying, least of all to such a lofty noble. From the very first book there was always a hint that Sophie was hiding a secret and the twist towards the end of the story was somewhat of a surprise, though several statements led me to guess the outcome earlier.

The author took a gamble with Sophie and what started out as a very pleasant read where one tends to want to champion the underdog, i.e. the ugly duckling, Sophie's character comes into question when her very big secret was revealed. Sophie and Graham's romance was so natural progressing from a comfortable friendship to love that her lies to Graham were a bitter pill to swallow, not only for Graham, but for the reader as well.

The recurring character of Lementeur was a delight, his beautifully described couture creations and advice on how Sophie should conduct herself were captured both vividly and at times with great amusement. Bradley also brought to a nice conclusion the miss-adventures of the nefarious solicitor Wolfe who tried his best to prevent any of the cousins from winning the Pickering trust and cutting off his monthly stipend.

Bottom line: While the last of book of a trilogy is usually the best (i.e. save the best for last) this didn't happen. On the whole, each book of the trilogy is stand alone and entertaining but this series is nowhere near as exciting as previous Bradley series (The Royal Four, or Liars Club) have been.

Marilyn Rondeau, for [...]
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Duke Most Wanted (Heiress Brides)
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