Georgiana Darcy gets the Pride & Prejudice retelling she deserves in Amanda Quain’s Accomplished, a sparkling contemporary YA featuring a healthy dose of marching band romance, endless banter, and Charles Bingley as a ripped frat boy.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Georgiana Darcy should have been expelled after The Incident with Wickham Foster last year – at least if you ask any of her Pemberley Academy classmates. She may have escaped expulsion because of her family name, but she didn’t escape the disappointment of her big brother Fitz, the scorn of the entire school, or, it turns out, Wickham’s influence.
But she’s back for her junior year, and she needs to prove to everyone – Fitz, Wickham, her former friends, and maybe even herself – that she’s more than just an embarrassment to the family name. How hard can it be to become the Perfect Darcy? All she has to do is:
– Rebuild her reputation with the marching band (even if it kills her)
– Forget about Wickham and his lies (no matter how tempting they still are), and
– Distract Fitz Darcy — helicopter-sibling extraordinaire — by getting him to fall in love with his classmate, Lizzie Bennet (this one might be difficult…)
Sure, it’s a complicated plan, but so is being a Darcy. With the help of her fellow bandmate, Avery, matchmaking ideas lifted straight from her favorite fanfics, and a whole lot of pancakes, Georgie is going to see every one of her plans through. But when the weight of being the Perfect Darcy comes crashing down, Georgie will have to find her own way before she loses everything permanently—including the one guy who sees her for who she really is.
Pretty Woman meets the Bridgertons in this witty, vivacious historical take on 90s romcoms by USA Today bestselling author Amalie Howard:
Lord Lysander Blackstone, the stern Duke of Montcroix, has only one interest: increasing his considerable fortune. After a series of betrayals, he keeps his emotions buried deep. Money, after all, can’t break a man’s heart—or make promises it can’t keep. But when his reputation for being heartless jeopardizes a new business deal, he finds himself seeking a most unusual—and alluring—solution . . .
Once an up-and-coming ballerina, Miss Geneviève Valery is now hopelessly out of work. After refusing to become a wealthy patron’s mistress, Nève was promptly shown the door to the streets. When she accidentally saves the life of a handsome duke, she doubts the encounter will go any better than her last brush with nobility. But instead of propositioning her, Montcroix makes Nève an offer she would be a fool to refuse: act as his fake fiancée in exchange for fortune enough to start over.
Only neither is prepared when very real feelings begin to grow between them. They both stand to win . . . but only if they’re willing to risk their hearts.
This charming Victorian era historical romance is the story two people from different worlds forging a connection. A chance encounter between Lysander and Nève leads to an offer—not an indecent proposal, but rather a fake engagement scheme.
Despite being at the top of the social hierarchy, Lysander has developed a reputation for being cold and unapproachable. His one great love jilted him; I won’t say for whom she left him, but yikes. Yet Lord Super Grump’s heart grows three sizes over the course of the book as he does nice things for Nève just because. Likewise, Nève learns that after a lifetime of keeping her guard up and fending for herself, putting her trust in someone will not lead to her losing everything she has worked so hard to maintain.
The two protagonists are supported by a well-rounded cast of secondary characters, some of whom will almost definitely be promoted to a leading role in subsequent books in the series. Lysander’s aged aunt stole the show at every possible opportunity, and the villains of the piece chewed the scenery just the right amount whenever they appeared in a scene.
I would recommend Always Be My Duchess. The protagonists are likeable, and they have good chemistry together. The banter is light and fun, and this is clearly a great beginning to a new series. I’m looking forward to reading more from Howard in the future.
I received a digital ARC of this book from Forever/NetGalley