Nothing Compares to the Duke by Christy Carlyle

Nothing Compares to the Duke by Christy Carlyle
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (368 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Bluet

His Only Regret…

Rhys Forester, the new Duke of Claremont, lives his life by four words: Enjoy All, Regret Nothing. He’s devoted to the pleasure of his wild soirees, reckless behavior, and shocking the ton with his interests in trade. The debts that come with his title don’t fit the carefree lifestyle he’s created and when he’s forced to return to his family’s estate, he’s also forced to confront his one and only regret: the beautiful girl he left behind.

May Be Falling in Love…

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Bella has never forgiven Rhys for what he did to her, but desperate times call for fake engagements. With a few dozen rules, their scheme begins, but it’s not long before the former enemies find themselves breaking every single rule, including the most important of them all: don’t fall in love…

Arabella Prescott and Rhys Forester live on neighboring estates, and have been best friends since they were young children, even though Rhys is four years older. Although much of their youth was spent running about and playing, Bella is remarkably intelligent, and helped Rhys with his reading disorder. The years pass, and it’s now time to celebrate Bella’s eighteenth birthday. She’s nervous about having to give a speech in front of everyone, and is counting on Rhys’s face front and center to focus on. She also has been feeling her love for Rhys turn in a new direction, and hopes that he returns her affection. When Rhys isn’t part of the crowd, Bella runs off to seek him. And she does find him, unfortunately, it’s in the arms of an obliging older lady. Bella’s young heart is broken, and she is too distraught to listen to Rhys’s apology.

Rhys realizes he has ruined his beautiful friendship. Unknown to Bella, he had already begun to live the rakish lifestyle that he would become notorious for over the next five years. His life in London consists of some genuine business ventures with his two close friends, but is full of wild parties, gambling, and a string of affairs and liaisons. When Rhys’s father dies, and there are serious financial problems, Rhys knows he must go back to his country estate and try to sort out the mess, as he’s now the duke.

While Rhys has been living as a libertine, Bella made her debut, and has turned down numerous marriage proposals. She is hopeful that her parents will give up on trying to marry her off, and allow her to happily become a spinster, and to write her puzzle books, which she hopes to publish. Her world is turned upside down when she hears Rhys’s voice for the first time since that awful party five years ago.

I’m all team Bella in this story, as I hated Rhys’s actions from his awful deed five years ago to the frivolous and ridiculous life he chose to live since then. Having said that, he does have an abundance of good qualities which were buried underneath the persona he created. He also felt genuine guilt and remorse over how he hurt Bella, and accordingly lost his best friend. I admire that he had the courage to ask her forgiveness, albeit five years later. I loved watching Rhys change the more time he spent with the “new” Bella, becoming a better person, and vowing that he would never break her trust again.

Bella was easy for me to like, as who doesn’t remember and sympathize with their first experience at heartbreak? What made this sadder was the decade of solid friendship before their falling out. I commend Bella’s resolve not to marry just for the sake of being wed, and how she worked at building her own future of becoming a published author. It takes a good person to forgive someone who has hurt you that badly, and I applaud Bella’s finally being able to do so.

Nothing Compares to the Duke is well written and enjoyable to read, with plenty of emotional scenes and some steamy moments. I think it will appeal especially to those readers who enjoy drama and many hurdles to overcome. I have to confess that I was left with a kernel of doubt as to whether Rhys could truly stay faithful to Bella, or whether the siren song of his former life would lure him back. I know I’m rooting for them.

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