distracting the duke, marcus, the duke of ulvercombe, is, as austen might put it, a single man with good fortune in want of a wife. but he wants a marriage that is free of strife, having grown up in the toxic atmosphere that surrounded his parents' loveless union. he figures that to get that, he needs to find a sweet, innocent woman without strong opinions.
and he has a great candidate, miss eleanora soper checks off all the boxes, except he keeps getting distracted by her argumentative guardian, lady clara tinniswood. at every turn she challenges him, about their families' past connections, about the weather, there is nothing this woman won't argue with him about. but unlike the horrible dread and persist awfulness that surrounded his parents' arguments, marcus finds himself enthralled by clara.
quite literally, he can't stay away from her. he keeps trying to remember that he's supposed to be courting eleanora, but the reality is that if clara is in the vicinity she holds all his attention. and it's not just that he's attracted to clara sexually, he finds that he enjoys the time he spends with her. it's exhilarating in a way that most society interactions are not. she challenges him and he feels alive.
he also recognizes that she has some baggage that causes her to keep him at arm's length. her first marriage was not a happy one, and her husband was emotionally and physically abusive. her sister also betrayed her by sleeping with her now-dead husband and bearing his illegitimate child. so that's a lot to deal with. once he figures out what is holding her back though, once marcus realizes that only clara will do, his previous statements of milquetoast wives bedamned, then he goes after it.
he may not win every argument he has with clara, but this is one he can't, he refuses to lose. and this is what is great about the book, marcus might have some doubts about how he feels for clara, and it definitely takes him some time to decide what it is he wants, but once he figures it out, he fully commits. i mean, from the moment he meets clara, all he does are things to please her, to protect her, to make her happy. and when he realizes that his life would be colorless without her, he goes about making things right. he brings back the light to the dark corners of clara's heart, he makes himself so irresistible, he proves to her that he will love her no matter what the future holds. and it's so freaking romantic.
**distracting the duke will publish on february 20, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (scandalous) in exchange for my honest review.