Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Design of Dukes (The Beautiful Barringtons #2) by Kathleen Ayers - Blog Tour, Excerpt & Review

Andromeda is the most frustrating creature Granby has ever encountered. When their insults turn to flirtation and the heated discussions between them lead to passionate kisses, will Andromeda succumb to their mutual attraction? Fans of steamy historical and enemies to lovers romances will devour The Design of Dukes by Kathleen Ayers, the next book in her Beautiful Barringtons Series.

Praise for Kathleen Ayers
"I loved this story. Kathleen rarely disappoints..." - Nazim, Goodreads Reviewer

"Great read... she writes books that keep you reading through the night." - Barbara, Goodreads Reviewer

"Chemise. Stockings. Piano. What a fantastic line from this book. What a passionate scene when it does happen. All the angst and tension leading up to that moment was worth waiting for." - Theresa, Goodreads Reviewer, The Theory of Earls

Lady Andromeda Barrington is the most unsuitable young lady in London.

At least in the Duke of Granby’s opinion.

Granby doesn’t care for bastard relatives or tainted pedigrees and Andromeda possesses both. Nor does he like opinionated young ladies who enjoy hurling insults in his direction.

Andromeda is, in short, the most annoying creature he’s ever met.

When she arrives, uninvited, to a house party given at his estate, Granby can’t decide whether to kiss Andromeda senseless or send her packing.

Andromeda is the victim of infatuation and bad luck.

The infatuation is that of her sister for the Earl of Blythe, but the misfortune belongs solely to Andromeda after she is forced to attend a house party hosted by the Duke of Granby. She and the duke are previously, unpleasantly, acquainted. The entire party is bound to be awkward, and their mutual dislike difficult to hide. Her only recourse is to avoid the giant block of ice masquerading as a duke. Thankfully, Granby’s estate is enormous.

But instead of mutual hostility upon arriving, Romy is greeted with unexpected attraction. Insults turn into flirtation. Heated discussions become lingering kisses.

Her heart is ruined. Granby may not even have one.

And the duke has already chosen another young lady to be his duchess.

The Design of Dukes is a steamy historical romance with a guaranteed happily ever after and next in the series The Beautiful Barringtons.

Copyright 2021 @Kathleen Ayers

“Very well. I already know what you will ask for.”

“You do?” That surprised him. He was so close to her that if Andromeda took a deep breath, the tips of her breasts would brush his chest. 

A pained look came over her lovely features. “And I completely understand, Your Grace.”

“You do?” he murmured.

“You wish me and Theo to leave the house party. It is unfortunate you and I have formed such a dislike for each other.”

“Is that what you are calling it?” 

“I’ll make an excuse that I’m ill or I’m concerned for my mother so that we may return to London with all haste.” She turned away from him and bent at the waist, giving him another lovely view of her backside, glaringly apparent through the folds of petticoats she was encased in. Her hands flew over the papers spread out across the grass to gather them up. 

Andromeda assumed, incorrectly, he wanted her to leave The Barrow. The very thought gave him a hollow sensation in the middle of his stomach. 

“No. I would never suggest such a thing.” His voice sounded chilly even to his own ears.

“You don’t need to, Your Grace. I take your meaning.”

Andromeda hadn’t the slightest idea how badly David wanted her. He looked over her shoulder as her hands began to stack the papers neatly together. Not drawings of the stream and woods as he’d thought. What most young ladies with a mediocre talent for sketching would draw. But gowns. Dresses. One with a motif of butterflies across the skirt. There was even a sketch of a riding habit.

I have an acquaintance who owns a dress shop.

Andromeda, already fascinating, became more so. 

“I don’t wish you to leave the house party,” he said to the trim line of her back. 

“My presence clearly annoys you, Your Grace.” 

Indeed, it did, in so many ways David had stopped counting. “A correct assessment.”

“Then Theo and I will leave in the morning.” 

“No,” his said roughly. “You will not.”

Andromeda’s hands stilled on her drawings, stiffening with anger at his commanding tone. 

David stared at the line of buttons running down her spine. Could he bite them off with his teeth? The dress would fall away from her shoulders, exposing all her glorious skin. 

She turned back to face him, angrily tying a piece of leather around the portfolio to keep it closed. “What else could you possibly want, Your Grace? An apology for the insult about your coat? How petty, it was well over a year ago.”

His head fell forward, nose gliding up the slope of her neck, inhaling the soft lavender scent lingering on her skin. 

A soft gasp of surprise left her, but she didn’t move away. The portfolio fell from her hands. 

“I want this,” he whispered. David nuzzled the bit of skin just beneath her ear before catching her lips with his.

Romy is such a great female lead. I love that she is true to herself, not willing to give up her family or career just because the man she loves finds them unacceptable. Granby comes off as quite unlovable at the beginning, but you see him changing as the story unfolds. These two characters could not be more different from each other, but the attraction is there from the very beginning and practically jumps off the page. I could not put the book down until I finished because I couldn't wait to see what would happen next and what Granby would need to do or figure out to finally be the man Romy deserved.  Granby's friends are an added bonus and I hope to see them starring in their own stories soon, perhaps even with one of Romy's sisters.  While this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone, but the first book in the series is also worth reading and does not have to be read in order.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a bit of enemies to lovers romance and headstrong heroines. 

I received an ARC for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own.

Kathleen Ayers has been a hopeful romantic since the tender age of fourteen when she first purchased a copy of Sweet Savage Love at a garage sale while her mother was looking at antique animal planters. Since then she's read hundreds of historical romances and fallen in love dozens of times. In particular, she adores handsome, slightly damaged men with a wicked sense of humor. On paper, of course.

Kathleen lives in Houston and is married with one colleg-aged son and two very spoiled dogs.

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