Take an arranged marriage, add a damaged duke who doesn’t wish to marry, and an independent lady intent on her own pursuits. Stir in an explosive, passionate attraction. Sparks fly!

Welcome to book one in this exciting new series by Maggi Andersen! Read for Free in Kindle Unlimited!

Lady Nellie Dountry, and Charles, His Grace, Duke of Shewsbury have had their hearts broken in the past. Neither is prepared to chance love again. When they are compelled to marry because of an agreement made long ago by their fathers, they are both determined to resist falling in love. Convinced that it’s mere desire which draws them together, both are surprised by their jealousy.

Nellie finds Charles irresistibly attractive, but other women do too. They circle like sharks. Aware that Charles’s former fiancée who had broken his heart some years ago is now a widow and on the hunt for a lover, Nellie struggles to trust him while she fears she is falling in love with him.

Charles was more than pleased with his choice of bride, but he wishes she wasn’t so difficult to understand. One minute she’s hot for him, the next as remote from him as a chalet in the alps. Why he wants to get close surprises him, he planned for his marriage to be little more than one of polite indifference. But Nellie is so dashed beguiling!

The Never Series
Book 1 – Never Doubt a Duke
Book 2 – Never Dance with a Marquess
Book 3 – Never Trust an Earl

Reviews

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This book is a slow burn (in a good way). Andersen takes her time and lets the reader get to know the lead characters so by the time of their wedding the readers are so ready for it. The thing keeping them apart is not murder or meyham, but misunderstanding that felt natural and unrushed so the plot came as a consequence of the characters’ actions.

 

Lori Dykes

Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2020

 
One should never doubt a Duke. On no, they always are beyond reproach, present themselves as impeccable and never shame the title. Well, aren’t they?
Maggi Andersen’s writing guarantees a story that is a page turner with memorable characters that pull at your heart! I always look forward to her releases and am never disappointed!
An arranged marriage centering around Nellie, a beautiful, intelligent young lady who loves her independence and Charles, Duke of Shrewsbury who attracts the women like flies to honey.
Can this arrangement work since they seem to have an almost instant attraction?
Both have been hurt and are feel insecure, but they do ignite sparks between them.. Follow their journey to happiness and see where it leads them!
 
 
Frank McDermott

Reviewed in the United States on June 23, 2020

Nellie and Charles’ arranged marriage has its difficulties, but the novel about them is a pleasure to read. I wish all the Regency novels were as lovely as this one.
 
 
Élodie Nicoli

Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2020

 

Will their secrets come between them and tear them apart …

This is my first read by Mrs Maggi Andersen, and with talent she demonstrates how assumptions and conjectures can hurt more than true offense.
I do not think I liked much Nellie for half of the book, she holds on too much, letting nothing go.
Yet it is the way of the ton, whispers and gossips and rare true and honest conversations.

This is the perfect story to show how naysays, gossips and false tales can hurt. And the uptight bored peers love to wallow in them, it is a sport they are top-notch in. Add to it miscommunications and misinterpretations, then touch by touch, doubt is insinuated and you have everything to turn a couple against one another without even something going truly between them to prove them right.

Nellie is the personnification of how distrust and rampant mind can lead to disaster, because she chose to believe gossips rags over asking honest answers, she dooms her marriage to a sad future.
And while Charles never really lied to her, in thinking he must keep things under silence, he will spare her some distress. He in fact took part of the setting to tear them apart.

I was upset at Nellie for always thinking the worst, but Charles could have cleared their path too. Both had the upper hand on their happiness and misery, hopefully for them, feelings and forgiveness found a way to reach them.
While it is not a steamy read, most of the sensual scenes while faded in the dark or non graphic, are still very tender and tense.

4.5 stars for this moving tale of the cruelty of the mind, how one person can lie to one’s self and be sole responsible of its own misery.

I was granted an advance copy by the publisher Dragonblade Publishing, here is my true and unbiased opinion.

One person found this helpful

 
Nicole Laverdure

Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2020

 

A sweet unforgettable kiss that changed their lives forever!

‘Never Doubt a Duke’, written by Maggi Andersen, is a charming Regency story with loving characters. What attracted me to read this book is that the hero and heroine are two broken souls because their hearts have been broken in the past. I just love this genre of story. It has every elements to please Regency lovers like me. I couldn’t have asked for more. Nellie is a smart, sweet but insecure young woman who doesn’t want to marry and give up her independence and Charles, is a dashing Duke who wants to stay free. When they are forced to marry because of an agreement made long ago by their fathers, they decide to give it a chance! So they embark on a journey of trust, hope and love. When Nellie realizes that she wants Charles for herself, she also notices that other women find him so irresistible. What is she to do? Is there hope for these two broken souls?, Even though Nellie feels insecure and doubts herself , Charles is always there to re-assure her.

The intrigue is well developed, believable and well-written. An unforgettable kiss will do its magic again and send sparks to ignite a beautiful passion. Will Nellie and Charles take that chance at love?

Ms. Andersen’s style of writing kept my interest throughout the whole book.

Thank you Dragonblade Publishing and NetGalley for providing me a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

 
 
S. Standefer

Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2020

 

Nellie Dountry knows she is expected to marry the Duke of Shewsbury. Having had a broken heart of her own she has hers the rumors of the Duke and his love for another lady who has broken his heart. Afraid of a marriage to someone who won’t love her scares her. When she meets Charles she has hope that they will at least make a marriage of convenience tolerable, but her heart will never be involved. Charles is definitely attracted to Nellie and is looking forward to a new start with her but can tell she is hiding something.

Nellie finds herself very attracted to Charles but realizes that a lot of other women are including his ex-fiancé who makes it very apparent she wants him. Both Charles and Nellie will have to come to terms with each other if they want to have a life together and find love.

This is a new series for Maggi Andersen and I was very excited to read it. I have loved her other books and definitely could not put this one down!

 
 
Diane

Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2020

 
The story of Charles and Nelly Is a wonderful read, there are facets included of everyday life that occur even today. Jealousy, insecurity, and Love are involved in this tale. An arranged marriage is never easy but the insecurity and concerns of a young lady are a driving factor in the unease that occurs in this relationship. The Duke is rumored to have a volatile temper and one mistress as well as, an ex love in pursuit of him. The personality of each character is written in a manner that there is no question of who they are and how they believe. It’s a story that includes beautiful passion and shows us how rumor and little faith can cause heartache and miscommunication or lack thereof can be detrimental to a relationship.
 
Frisco Lady

Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2020

 
Wasn’t thrilled in the first chapters! Came real close to stop reading an to delete the book! Not quite sure exactly what made me continue reading! So glad I kept going!
Defiantly glad I did as it is absolutely wonderful story!
I recognized some of *my own* worst traits from my past, in the heroines stubborn, foolish, wilful, insecurity, jealousy and other child like feelings and actions!
Oh I forgot one! ‘Hard headed know-it-all Stupidity’!
Loved the conclusion!!!DEFINITELY LOVED THIS WONDERFULLY LENGTHY STORY!!!

 
Barbara K. Literski

Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2020

 
I enjoyed reading this book about
Charles Anthony Glazebrook, Duke of Shewsbury and Lady Cornelia Dountry.
This story is about a couple who marries but not for love. It was an agreement between the fathers.
This story is about how feelings can change to love.
I would recommend this story to anyone that enjoys this genre.
 
 
Kindle Customer

Reviewed in the United States on June 7, 2020

 
Once I started it I really couldn’t stop reading it.. The storyline was just amazing.. It shows that you should never go by what someone else says it listen to others.. The connection between the two characters were amazing.. I look forward to the rest of the series!
 
 

Excerpt!

Nellie rested her arms on the windowsill of her bedchamber and gazed down at Grosvenor Square. The family had been in London for a week, and for most of it, the weather had been dreary. A stultifying week of accompanying her mother on morning calls, where the wedding was discussed over the tea tables. The drizzle continued, the sky a washed-out gray, the trees in the park drooping with the weight of a recent deluge. Rain in the city was not like rain in the north. It didn’t smell fresh and sweet as it replenished streams and revived the gardens and woodlands. It merely formed brown torrents in the gutters and splattered the carriages with sooty water.

Earlier, she’d taken Peter to the park, but hadn’t remained there long. Ordinarily, she liked to walk in the rain, but not here where people hunched beneath their hats and umbrellas intent on reaching their destinations. Was that a glimmer of watery sun she spied between the clouds? Probably not.

Nellie turned from the window. The long afternoon stretched ahead. Marian and Gerald had gone to their Kent estate, because his mother suffered from another of her ailments. Her sister declared them to be imaginary and attention seeking, for her Mama-in-law always rallied at the sight of her son.

She wandered the room picking up books and discarding them while thinking of Charles. He had suggested a carriage ride in Hyde Park, but so far, the dismal weather prevented it. She wished she didn’t feel so absurdly disappointed. There was the Brocklehurst’s soiree this evening, which Charles would attend. She hadn’t seen him since the day he left Dountry Park. That Sunday the rain kept them indoors, ruining their last day together. With the diva’s performance after dinner, it had been impossible for more than a snatched conversation alone. Their parting had been formal with the whole family present to wave goodbye.

A maddening thought slipped uninvited into her head. Had Charles already encountered Drusilla in London? Nellie wished her cousin’s news of Drusilla’s widowhood hadn’t rattled her so much. She shrugged her tight shoulders. How vulnerable one was to be marrying a man who didn’t love you.

Despite her fears, it would have been pleasant to be out in a carriage with Charles this afternoon. The Brocklehurst’s reception rooms this evening would be crowded and make conversation impossible. She wandered over to examine her pale blue muslin with white lace decorating the puffed sleeves and neckline, chosen for this evening, the matching blue silk slippers, Lilly had placed in readiness. It was decidedly missish, more for a girl of eighteen than a woman of twenty-two. Nellie was determined that once married, she would wear more dramatic silk gowns in rich colors, deep violet, gold, and crimson.

It wasn’t like her to mope. She owed Aunt Bea a letter. Nellie sat at her desk with a sheet of bond. Picking up her quill, she dipped it in the inkwell and addressed the letter. She paused when no words came to her. Her mind filled with thoughts of Charles. His lean, handsome face. She wished she didn’t find him quite so attractive. Sighing, she replaced the pen in the holder, and then moaned in dismay at the smudge of ink on her finger.

The clip clop of horses drew her to the window again. A smart dark blue curricle had pulled up outside. She couldn’t make out the livery of the groom in his oilskin coat and dripping hat, who stood at the horses’ heads. Their footman rushed out with an umbrella and shielded its occupant from view as their visitor was ushered into the house. Her father was at his club. Mama had mentioned an afternoon caller, but Nellie hadn’t paid much attention to who left their cards. They would be sent away, for Mama complained of a headache. She had drunk an infusion of feverfew and was resting.

As Nellie scrubbed at the stubborn ink stain with a piece of pumice an uncle had brought back from Italy, which she found useful, their butler knocked on the door.

“Lady Cornelia, the Duke of Shewsbury is here to see you.”

Nellie’s wet hand went to her hair as excitement and consternation filled her. “Is my mother still resting, Hinkley?”

“I believe she is, Lady Cornelia.”

“Please ask the duke to wait.”

As the door closed, Nellie whirled around. She wore a dreadful house gown of faded lemon. And Lilly had gone down to the kitchen to heat the iron, to remove creases from Nellie’s evening gown. She whipped open the wardrobe and pulled out the first dress that caught her eye, a Pomona green cambric which wasn’t too crushed. Struggling out of her morning gown, she drew on the green, then attempted to do up the hook and eye at her nape. One would need to be a contortionist like the one she once saw at Drury Lane to manage it. With a moan of disgust, she gave up and rushed to the mirror. Her upswept hairstyle had been slightly disarranged in the act of dressing. She could never manage her thick hair well. Tucking the untidy strands behind her ears, she left her room and rushed to the stairs.

When she entered the parlor, Charles turned from the fireplace, his greatcoat swirling around his polished black leather boots. She’d not forgotten how tall and imposing he was, but still, his elegance robbed her of breath. It only served to make her feel untidier. She resisted the impulse to hide the stain on her finger and hurried forward. “Charles, I didn’t expect you to call. The weather is so inclement….”

He took her ink-stained hand, his eyes amused as he raised it to his lips. “The curricle hood is up, and I think the sun is at least attempting to shine. We shan’t let a little weather keep us from our outing, shall we?”

“I am afraid I’m not really dressed…”

“You require a warm pelisse. But first, allow me.” His hands on her shoulders turned her slightly, and his fingers, cool and sure on her skin, did up the hook.

“Oh! Yes. Thank you.”

His citrus scent enveloped her, and she had to fight the urge to lean back against him. Her embarrassment at her appearance safely prevented her from succumbing. She waited a few seconds too long in breathless anticipation for him to slide his hands down her arms and turn her to him. To kiss her and declare his love for her.

But, of course, he didn’t. He was merely neatening his untidy betrothed who was unable to dress herself. Such a grand duchess she would make!

Her cheeks grew hot. “If you’ll wait a moment.”

“Take your time, Nellie, the park will still be there.”

She took a deep breath to slow her racing pulse and went to get her pelisse, bonnet, and kid gloves to cover the cursed stain. Must he always be so…immaculate and composed?

They left the house. The rain eased as he escorted her into the curricle, taking care to make her comfortable with a rug over her knees. “Let them go, Reilly,” he called to the groom. “You may await me in the stables.”

“Oh no! Please go to the servants’ entrance, Reilly,” Nellie called. “Tell Cook I said to give you a cup of tea and a slice of her pound cake.”

“Are you encouraging my servants to adopt bad habits?” Charles asked as he expertly feathered a turn.

She stared at him, unsure if he was serious. “He looked thoroughly miserable. I don’t believe it will spoil him too much to enjoy a cup of tea in comfort on such a day.”

He arched a dark eyebrow. “Indeed. He can sit by the fire and warm his toes. It is spring, not the depths of winter. My grooms are used to all weathers. They live in the stables. A little cold and wet toughens them up.”

“The stables? Oh, you are too harsh!” Nellie cried. The corner of his mouth twitched. “You are teasing me,” she said with a half laugh.

“It’s entirely possible.” Charles glanced at her briefly before drawing in the reins as they approached a laden wagon trundling heavily along the road. “Actually, the stable staff live in very comfortable accommodation above the stables. I’m sorry. It was irresistible, and I enjoy seeing you flare up.”

“You do? That is horrid of you.” Nellie doubted he was sorry, but she couldn’t banish the laughter in her voice. “Enjoy it, for it will not happen again. How does the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

He chuckled. “That sounds like a dare.”

“You can take it as such,” she said with a teasing smile. He would not like to lose, she decided. But neither did she. They entered the park gates and proceeded to the South Carriage drive, busy despite the drizzle. Carriages circled and riders trotted down Rotten Row. Heads turned to view them, and many hailed the duke. Two men of a similar age to Charles strolled over to greet them.

***

Nellie laughed at one of Lawrence Frobisher’s witticisms. He had a repertoire of them for the ladies. It appeared Lawrence was better able to entertain her than Charles was. Damn it, but she was appealing when she laughed. Frobisher obviously thought so. Charles was torn between being captivated by that slightly abstracted air she adopted when wanting to evade him, and a desire to have her really look at him as if she wanted him.

When she’d entered the salon to greet him with her dress undone and her hair in slight disarray, thoughts of her in his bed caused sudden heat to course through his veins. As he did up her gown, he fought the urge to pull her into an embrace and kiss her. Her neck seemed vulnerable, the skin velvety soft beneath his fingers. He almost pressed his lips there, but pulled himself up sharply, aware of where he was. He found it unsettling that it took so little for Nellie to light a firestorm within him.

Once they were married, things would settle down. He would have her nights and she could spend her days writing poetry if she wished. Order would be restored.

“I like your friends,” Nellie said, as they left the park and the curricle rattled along the street. Her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes sparkled. “Mr. Frobisher is most amusing.”

“Yes, he can be on occasion.” When a pretty lady pays him attention. The damned roué, Charles thought, but not without some affection for a friend of long standing. Women always took to Lawrence.

“I had luncheon with your father today.” He turned the horses into Grosvenor Street. “As you haven’t mentioned it, I assume he has yet to tell you that the cathedral has been booked for late July.”

She gasped. “Oh, so soon? I wonder what Mama will say.”

“Unfortunately, it was the only date that fits in with everyone. Your father agrees. Unless we wait until closer to Christmas.”

“Oh, no. Of course we must accept it.”

He eyed the abstracted frown creasing her smooth forehead. “I am sure your mother will rise admirably to the occasion.”

“Mama always does,” Nellie said with a smile.

Foolish to feel offended because she didn’t appear eager to wed him. “Yes, and should she like some assistance, my secretary is at her disposal. Prinny has offered his personal pastry chef, Marie-Antoine Carême for the cake and the wedding breakfast.” 

“That is most generous of the Regent. Mama will be thrilled,” she said. “I’m sure it will all be superb.”

Charles smiled, pushing away his pique. “I have been fortunate to sample some of Carême’s patisseries at the prince’s table. His pastry sculptures made from sugar and marzipan are called pièces montées and are quite spectacular.”

As if in anticipation, her tongue licked her bottom lip. “I do enjoy dessert.”

Charles cleared his throat and took a firmer hold of the reins. “Then I assure you, you will not be able to resist these.”

She laughed. “I have no intention of it.” 

He visualized feeding her one. Licking the sugar from those full lips and allowed his mind to dwell on other possibilities as he drew the horses to the side of the curb.

“Ah, there is Reilly,” he said, turning to her. “Still remarkably hale and hearty.”

She wrinkled her nose at him.

He chuckled as he helped her down and escorted her inside. Alone in the salon, they took seats by the fire.

Nellie rang for tea. “Mother is resting with a megrim. She will be very sorry to have missed you.”

“I hope she recovers soon.” He took the armchair opposite, crossed his legs, and studied her. The misty weather had made those stray wisps curl against her cheek. He studied his hands, resisting the temptation to reach across and tidy them. “When I am free to do so, shall we honeymoon in Italy? A friend, Baron Giordano, has offered us his villa in Venice.”

“Visiting Italy has long been a dream of mine.”

“We can travel around the country, visit Rome, Florence…”

“Oh Charles!” Her warm smile embraced him. “How wonderful!”

He was gratified to have pleased her. “I have engagements which keep me in London for the rest of this week, but then I should like you and your parents to join me at Shewsbury Park. My mother writes she is unable to come to London at present. Something of importance keeps her in Leicestershire.” Although he couldn’t imagine what would be more important than meeting his fiancée, he thought with annoyance.

“I look forward to meeting her and visiting Shewsbury Park.”

A footman brought the tea. Nellie busied herself preparing the brew. She added a slice of lemon to the tea, the way he liked it, and handed him the cup and saucer.

“Nellie?”

Her questioning gaze met his. “Yes?”

“Does becoming my wife make you nervous?”

Her hand shook slightly as she stirred sugar into her tea. “Perhaps a little. I never imagined myself as a duchess. It entails considerable responsibilities. But I am eager to embrace it. You have bestowed a great honor on me, Charles.” She smiled shyly at him, “I am grateful.”

He referred to becoming his wife. Might she have deliberately misunderstood him? He nodded, disliking her gratitude with unaccustomed vehemence. “Then there is nothing else that worries you?”

“No. Why would there be?”

A smile in her eyes, she offered him a plate of apricot tartlets.

“No reason, I suppose.” He took one, urging himself to be patient. She was evading him again, slipping out of his grasp like a trout escaping the hook.