SDM (205): Duke with Benefits; Educating Caroline

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

SDM (205): Duke with Benefits; Educating CarolineDuke with Benefits by Manda Collins
Series: Studies in Scandal #2
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on June 27, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Mystery
Pages: 310
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher―an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches―Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

Manda Collins is swiftly becoming one of my new favorite romance authors. She once again brings my favorite tropes and a whole lot of humor to bear in Duke with Benefits.

The Studies in Scandal series is completely over-the-top, and I am absolutely okay with that. These bluestockings who each get caught up in a murder mystery because reasons and have romances and get stuck with their love interests during rainstorms are awesome, don’t @ me. Plot-wise, I do still think the murder mystery ultimately detracts a bit from the cuteness, because the endings are always mega melodramatic rather than matching the farcical nature of most everything else. It’s also hard to miss the fact that book two ends exactly the same way that the first book did; I don’t mind that much, but I’d like to see something new out of book three.

Daphne and Dalton Beauchamp (the poor male love interests get the worst fucking names—there’s a reason he goes by his title, Maitland) met and felt a frisson of attraction in book one. In fact, Daphne propositioned him, and he turned her down, scandalized, which I find super adorable. Like, he just really wants her to love him for more than just his body, and I am total trash for this.

Out-spoken Daphne has the social awareness of a bull in a china shop, and I absolutely love that about her. I also love that Maitland legitimately loves this too, though she does sometimes catch him off guard. He admires all the traits that make society frown in her direction despite her title. He’s also totally turned on by how brilliant she is. In turn, she admires his facility with people and the way he treats her respectfully. They make a really great team, and I’m all about that in my ships.

If you like Tessa Dare-style comedic romances, do not miss the Studies in Scandal series.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

SDM (205): Duke with Benefits; Educating CarolineEducating Caroline by Patricia Cabot
Published by Pocket Books on October 30, 2001
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Lady Caroline Linford is horrified to discover...
her fiancé, the Marquis of Winchilsea, in the arms of another woman. Unfortunately, Victorian society considers such masculine peccadilloes a trifle; canceling their imminent wedding would be unthinkable. But Caroline's wish is for the man she is to marry to desire only her... and she seeks lessons in the art of romance from the best teacher: London's most notorious rake.

Braden Granville may be a famous lover...
but he has no intention of taking part in Caroline's scheme — until he learns she has something he wants: the name of his own unfaithful fiancée's lover. As their passionate tutelage begins, sparks fly — and the lines between teacher and student fall away. Now there is just one last lesson to learn: on the subject of true love, the heart chooses its own unpredictable ways.

FINALLY. Meg Cabot has arrived in the house, and it was about time. With Educating Caroline, the humor and silliness and delightfulness finally shows up, and it’s absolutely delightful. There’s a bit too much melodrama as the book finishes up, but otherwise I laughed my way through and it was super great.

Educating Caroline opens with our heroine finding her fiancée in flagrante delicto with someone else’s fiancée. She’s not sure what to do or how to feel so she just shuts the door to the study and sits on the stairs nearby. But then the someone else, Braden Granville, shows up to look for his fiancée, and he finds her looking all discombobulated and tries to help her rather than hunting down his lady who he’s pretty sure is cheating on him (which, yes, sir, you would be right about that).

Caroline wants out of the union because obvs, but her mom is like “um hell to the no bc scandal, and really dear it’s a good thing because he’ll do the weird stuff with someone else.” Caroline doesn’t really know what that means, because mom obviously never gave her the sex talk, but she does know that she’s probably trapped. Thus, she decides what she has to do is seduce her fiancee, the Marquis of Winchilsea, into loving her. Only she doesn’t know how. What’s a girl to do but ask Granville, supposedly the Lothario of London, to teach her about lovemaking?

Hilariously, though, Caroline absolutely just plans on taking notes on lectures about such subjects as french kissing. Braden (lols that name i can’t) was super scandalized obvs but also he really wants out of this engagement without getting sued, so he ends up caving. Obviously lessons get a little more hands-on than Caroline intended. The whole novel is tropey and hilarious, and I quite liked Caroline and Braden together. It’s also super endearing that Braden is like really kind of confused about how he got this lothario reputation.

The climax involves way too much drama for my personal tastes, especially when the book is so light-hearted. Their fiancées are both just evil villains, and it always disappoints me to see that be so simple and static, but such it is. Not enough to make me not really enjoy the hell out of this book, but enough that it’s not quite a favorite. I will absolutely be keeping it and rereading though.

So far, if you want to read Meg Cabot’s historical romances, this is the only one that I’d actually recommend. I mean, some of the others are accidentally funny, but this one’s actually fun and enjoyable. Also, it has the cutest cover.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

One response to “SDM (205): Duke with Benefits; Educating Caroline”

  1. Okay Duke With Benefits sounds excellent and fun and like a good sort of vacation read.
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