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Her Duchess to Desire

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Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is tired of her reputation as the Ice Queen of London society. She resolves to leave behind her cold-hearted marriage to the duke—and to find a woman to keep her warm at night. Perhaps the dashing designer she hires to transform her Mayfair estate can also help her to transform her life. Letitia Barrow has big dreams of running her own interi Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is tired of her reputation as the Ice Queen of London society. She resolves to leave behind her cold-hearted marriage to the duke—and to find a woman to keep her warm at night. Perhaps the dashing designer she hires to transform her Mayfair estate can also help her to transform her life. Letitia Barrow has big dreams of running her own interior design business. The opportunity to reinvent the Hawthorne estate is the job that will finally establish her as a leading designer among the ton. The duchess might make her weak in the knees, but giving in to temptation could risk everything she’s working so hard to build. The designer and the duchess embark on an affair, with renovations to the house in full swing—and the renovations in their hearts well underway. Then, unexpectedly, the duke returns home and their feelings are tested. Can London’s hottest new designer melt the Ice Queen forever?


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Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is tired of her reputation as the Ice Queen of London society. She resolves to leave behind her cold-hearted marriage to the duke—and to find a woman to keep her warm at night. Perhaps the dashing designer she hires to transform her Mayfair estate can also help her to transform her life. Letitia Barrow has big dreams of running her own interi Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is tired of her reputation as the Ice Queen of London society. She resolves to leave behind her cold-hearted marriage to the duke—and to find a woman to keep her warm at night. Perhaps the dashing designer she hires to transform her Mayfair estate can also help her to transform her life. Letitia Barrow has big dreams of running her own interior design business. The opportunity to reinvent the Hawthorne estate is the job that will finally establish her as a leading designer among the ton. The duchess might make her weak in the knees, but giving in to temptation could risk everything she’s working so hard to build. The designer and the duchess embark on an affair, with renovations to the house in full swing—and the renovations in their hearts well underway. Then, unexpectedly, the duke returns home and their feelings are tested. Can London’s hottest new designer melt the Ice Queen forever?

30 review for Her Duchess to Desire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elske

    4.2 stars The third in the series and the best. I enjoyed reading this historical romance a lot.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rosi

    Perhaps it was due to my lack of sufficient knowledge of English, it is already a bit difficult for me to understand some current vocabulary, so finding so many archaic and disused words has caused some trouble for my complete understanding of history. So surely some things have been lost to me along the way, so I apologize. But I think that more or less the intention has been understood, although that does not mean that what has happened makes a lot of sense to me, but who knows, things may have Perhaps it was due to my lack of sufficient knowledge of English, it is already a bit difficult for me to understand some current vocabulary, so finding so many archaic and disused words has caused some trouble for my complete understanding of history. So surely some things have been lost to me along the way, so I apologize. But I think that more or less the intention has been understood, although that does not mean that what has happened makes a lot of sense to me, but who knows, things may have happened that way which would have been really interesting and a lot of fun , actually. Without going into too many details, a woman like Letty doesn't seem logical that she would have been very successful in her days, both professionally and resisting gossip and surely outright rejection. And the Duchess, not even with all the power that the nobility gives, does it seem probable that she could have also escaped scorn and slight. But wouldn't that have been wonderful? Publisher Bold Strokes Books was kind enough to provide me with an advanced reading copy via Netgalley for my honest review

  3. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    I had a lot of fun reading Jane Walsh’s newest Regency romance, Her Duchess to Desire. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and it’s been a while since I actually picked up a Regency romance, especially one with Sapphic characters. I’m very glad I was able to read this one. This is the story of Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne and Letitia (Letty) Barrow who is trying to build her own interior design business which is made harder as she is a woman as well as an unmarried mother. When Ann I had a lot of fun reading Jane Walsh’s newest Regency romance, Her Duchess to Desire. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and it’s been a while since I actually picked up a Regency romance, especially one with Sapphic characters. I’m very glad I was able to read this one. This is the story of Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne and Letitia (Letty) Barrow who is trying to build her own interior design business which is made harder as she is a woman as well as an unmarried mother. When Anne decides to renovate Hawthorne House in London (mainly to keep her philandering husband from coming home) she hires Letty. The longer they are together though, the more Anne’s icy heart melts. Ms. Walsh did a good job making the setting fit the time, right down to using some of the words and phrases common to the period. The characters are likable and well-developed. Letty does seem a bit unrealistic to me. In reality, a woman of her standing, especially an unmarried mother and a fairly out lesbian, would have never been allowed near folks such as the Duke and Duchess, but this is fiction so I just went with the flow and enjoyed the story. It is a nice tale, low angst, and definitely romantic. If you love historical fiction like I do, especially Regency romances, then try this novel. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Bell

    This was a fun Sapphic regency romance filled with great characters. I loved Letty and her determination to make a life and a career for herself, whilst also refusing to hide the parts of her deemed 'shameful' (being a single mother and being relatively open about her queerness for the time.) Meanwhile, the Duchess, Anna, is a great ice-queen characters who is, of course, a little bit of a softie underneath. Both came alive on the page and the connection between the two is great and develops in This was a fun Sapphic regency romance filled with great characters. I loved Letty and her determination to make a life and a career for herself, whilst also refusing to hide the parts of her deemed 'shameful' (being a single mother and being relatively open about her queerness for the time.) Meanwhile, the Duchess, Anna, is a great ice-queen characters who is, of course, a little bit of a softie underneath. Both came alive on the page and the connection between the two is great and develops in a believable way. There's some truly lovely scenes between them; I think my favs are the ice skating and when Anna is at Letty's house after the Duke arrives homes. The SCs were also great. There's the Duke & Sir Phin, who are set up as sort of protagonists to Anna to begin with. Her desire to stop them moving in drives a lot of her actions for the first half of the book, but once she is willing to see more to them, we, too, see more to them. (Though, it slightly irritates me the Duke wasn't just honest from the start, but then there wouldn't be a book, so I won't complain too much.) There's also Letty's son, Robert, who is frustrating, and I did occasionally want to shake him, because that young man has one hell of a chip on his shoulder, but I can understand how it got there. Then there's Letty's queer friends, who are always great whenever they appear on page. The scenes at the oyster tavern were both a lot of fun and then heartwrenching once things took a turn. (Side note: I would like to add when Anna goes there with Letty to my list of their favourite scenes.) As hinted at by the heart-wrenching scenes mentioned above, this story touches upon the issues of the era, in particular it's treatment of queer people. It could, however, have gone further in this exploration of the underbelly of the era, especially in regards to the Duke and Duchess' position in the aristocracy and their wealth and privilege. Overall though, this was a great read and anyone looking for a Sapphic regency romance will most likely enjoy it! I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kaye

    The cover is beautiful and caught my eye. Any Regency historical romance by Jane Walsh is a must read for me. Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne is known for her propriety. When her husband the Duke to returns from France where he has lived for the last decade she is a bit lost. She lives for her purpose in running the Dukedom and now with his return everything is changing. To keep him from moving into their London Estate she decides to renovate and hires Letitia Barrow as the interior designer. Let The cover is beautiful and caught my eye. Any Regency historical romance by Jane Walsh is a must read for me. Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne is known for her propriety. When her husband the Duke to returns from France where he has lived for the last decade she is a bit lost. She lives for her purpose in running the Dukedom and now with his return everything is changing. To keep him from moving into their London Estate she decides to renovate and hires Letitia Barrow as the interior designer. Letitia wants to grow her business away from merchant class of her neighborhood. At first she doesn't understand her task isn't really to succeed but to keep the Duke out. These characters are wonderful. People you think are villains really aren't (okay maybe I still dislike Robert). Letitia being able to run a business with a child out of wedlock and living openly queer to her neighborhood probably couldn't really happen. But I still enjoyed the story and can compare to modern day, choosing to live for yourself or follow social norms. And the author is mindful of the real consequences of the laws in the time period. I enjoyed little touches like the ice skating scene or dinner among friends. And I like that something like indoor plumbing as a novelty is included which was just beginning in the time period. I read this all in one sitting and can't recommend it enough if you enjoy sapphic historical fiction. Thank you to NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. (4.5 stars)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Aleana Harris

    I received an ARC copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley and voluntarily leaving my review. Anne is tried of being known as the ice queen in London society she longs to live her life the way she wants. Letitia finally get to show her skills as interior designer when she is hire to reinvent the Hawthorne estate its opportunity to get her to be known as a designer. Anne and Letitia give into temptation that’s becomes more then either realize but can they find a way to be together when h I received an ARC copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley and voluntarily leaving my review. Anne is tried of being known as the ice queen in London society she longs to live her life the way she wants. Letitia finally get to show her skills as interior designer when she is hire to reinvent the Hawthorne estate its opportunity to get her to be known as a designer. Anne and Letitia give into temptation that’s becomes more then either realize but can they find a way to be together when homosexuality at that time could ruined your reputation and get you kill. I like how the author pull from history to show how hard it’s is to hide yourself through marriage and at that time it’s was more important about your reputation then who you are as a person.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

    Jane Walsh is back with another great sapphic historical romance! Her characters are nuanced and complex, her writing is clear and succinct, and she includes historical details that add richness to the story. Like in her previous books, Walsh includes lovable queer characters (main and side alike) and safe spaces for them to gather. We’ve seen Anne, Duchess of Hawthorne (34, lesbian) in the previous books in the series as the imperious, prickly wife of the fun-loving Duke of Hawthorne. Anne hates Jane Walsh is back with another great sapphic historical romance! Her characters are nuanced and complex, her writing is clear and succinct, and she includes historical details that add richness to the story. Like in her previous books, Walsh includes lovable queer characters (main and side alike) and safe spaces for them to gather. We’ve seen Anne, Duchess of Hawthorne (34, lesbian) in the previous books in the series as the imperious, prickly wife of the fun-loving Duke of Hawthorne. Anne hates that her husband goes traveling with his lover, leaving her in charge of running the dukedom. Not ready to face her husband again, Anne hires relatively unknown interior designer Letitia “Letty” Barrow (42, lesbian) to redesign the entire house, deferring Hawthorne’s return. Anne hopes that Letty will prove to be an incompetent designer and thus buy Anne more time. But when Letty proves to be a talented designer with an arresting personality, Anne has to deal with her unexpected attraction. It took me a while to warm up to Anne, mostly because I didn’t understand the intensity of her hatred toward Hawthorne. As the story goes on, though, her personality starts to shine and her feelings become more understandable, and I ended up really liking her. Letty, though, I adored right away. I loved her confidence and determination to succeed in her career, and wow does the woman have game! I liked her relationship with her son Robert (even though Robert himself could be annoying), and how she doesn’t let society’s opinions of her having a child out of wedlock get to her. Anne and Letty are a wonderful pairing, and I enjoyed their chemistry. Letty sees through the ice queen facade to the real Anne, and Anne inspires Letty to turn Hawthorne house into a beautiful home. I didn’t really find anything wrong with this book (I can’t say whether or not the historical details were accurate), but it’s not a five-star book for me because I found it slow at times. The descriptions of the dukedom and the sensory details were great, but mostly, I wanted more heart-to-heart talks and steamy scenes between Anne and Letty. There was also a lot going on, and I found myself losing interest in parts. For these reasons, I didn’t rush to finish the book. I’d recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a sapphic historical romance with well-rounded characters and celebrations of queerness. content warnings: graphic sex, absent parent, prejudice, homophobia, violence, alcohol (recreational) I received an ARC from Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carol Hutchinson

    Beautiful! Anne, Duchess of Hawthorne hires Letitia Barrow to redesign their Mayfair estate in the hope it is going transform her life. Letitia just wants to be a success so she can fulfil her dreams to run her own interior design business and Anne’s job is going to be the one to help her do that. The last thing she expected was to be tempted by wayward thoughts about Anne and when they embark on an affair, only fate can decide what will happen to them both. What a fantastic story, not like anyt Beautiful! Anne, Duchess of Hawthorne hires Letitia Barrow to redesign their Mayfair estate in the hope it is going transform her life. Letitia just wants to be a success so she can fulfil her dreams to run her own interior design business and Anne’s job is going to be the one to help her do that. The last thing she expected was to be tempted by wayward thoughts about Anne and when they embark on an affair, only fate can decide what will happen to them both. What a fantastic story, not like anything I have read before so it was exciting and new and captured my imagination right from the start. Everything is so regal, from the characters, to the lifestyle, to the exquisite designs that Letitia draws up and produces. I just closed my eyes and could picture it all perfectly. It was the element of forbidden romance between Anne and Letitia that had me hooked because it was delicious, came with risks, and none of us knew what the consequences would be. As Anne and Letitia explored things between them, it was fun, flirty, and sneaky but it was genuine and together they just brought out the best in each other. Anne had a reputation as an Ice Queen but it was clear that was reserved for her status and power, it didn’t extend to Letitia and so it was nice to get to know her so intimately. There was one wonderful scene, which promptly leant itself to another equally wonderful scene in the book and those were the ones where I just knew Anne and Letitia were just wonderful women. Those scenes were inspired and made me admire all the sacrifices they were potentially going to have to make to actually be together. There was a lot at stake, but their matters of the heart proved that status and getting your dreams might not outweigh the powerful feelings and love you can share with another. I really enjoyed the story and actually look forward to reading more of Jane’s books, especially those that are historical romance like Her Duchess To Desire as it was just something regal that I loved.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bob/Sally

    Her Duchess to Desire was just absolutely wonderful, a character-driven romance with historical and social depth. Jane Walsh reminds me a lot of Olivia Waite in that you learn as well as love through her books - in this case, that education being about home decor and art, along with regency era social politics. The politics were especially interesting, as what initially seems to be an inconvenience and an embarrassment eventually comes to be a driving force for reconciliation. I think what I foun Her Duchess to Desire was just absolutely wonderful, a character-driven romance with historical and social depth. Jane Walsh reminds me a lot of Olivia Waite in that you learn as well as love through her books - in this case, that education being about home decor and art, along with regency era social politics. The politics were especially interesting, as what initially seems to be an inconvenience and an embarrassment eventually comes to be a driving force for reconciliation. I think what I found most pleasant about the read was the way it evolved, uncovering character motivations and transforming their roles within the story. Not only that, but Walsh keeps us guessing as to where relationships are headed, which is no mean feat when you know a HEA must be in the offering. The sensuality of this was lovely, with clever wordplay and subtle flirting slowly giving way to stolen glances, gentle touches, and secret kisses . . . before the fires of love catch fire and we experience the true heat of passions. Anne and Letty are both fantastic characters, strong women in their own right, but very different in how and why they've lived their lives. It really is an opposites attract romance, a love story that makes equals of women who are seen as being of different birth. They become friends before lovers, and that friendship is a big deal, both personally and socially. Even though Anne is the Duchess, the noble with the prestige, reputation, and wealth, I was most concerned for her happiness and anxious to see her open herself to love.

  10. 4 out of 5

    M. Reads Often

    Historical fiction is a genre I struggle with. However, I really enjoy it when it’s queer. I lost my mind when I saw the cover, and I decided to jump in before February was over. Seeing Anne and Letty fall in love was adorable. It was also great to see them both have jobs and be respected women, something I don’t see too much in this genre. They were also proud of working and who they were. The author excels at creating strong women who fall in love with a perfect regency setting. I plan to try Historical fiction is a genre I struggle with. However, I really enjoy it when it’s queer. I lost my mind when I saw the cover, and I decided to jump in before February was over. Seeing Anne and Letty fall in love was adorable. It was also great to see them both have jobs and be respected women, something I don’t see too much in this genre. They were also proud of working and who they were. The author excels at creating strong women who fall in love with a perfect regency setting. I plan to try more books from this author soon. Thank you NetGalley and Bold Stroke Books for the digital review copy !

  11. 5 out of 5

    Logan (loganslovelylibrary)

    This was SUCH a lovely queer historical romance!! It was slow to start out with at the beginning but I loved the interior design aspect and the romance was very sweet. Can’t wait to read more of her books!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kelleen (booms.books)

    I want everyone to read queer historical romance. I want to fill the whole world with queer historical romance. I want to stand on the roof of every independent bookstore in the world and scream at customers as they walk by that that they have to walk into this building and buy queer historical romance. I want to throw queer historical romance like confetti at every Pride parade, book fair, and wedding I ever go to and I want it to be THIS queer historical romance. I WANT EVERYONE TO READ THIS Q I want everyone to read queer historical romance. I want to fill the whole world with queer historical romance. I want to stand on the roof of every independent bookstore in the world and scream at customers as they walk by that that they have to walk into this building and buy queer historical romance. I want to throw queer historical romance like confetti at every Pride parade, book fair, and wedding I ever go to and I want it to be THIS queer historical romance. I WANT EVERYONE TO READ THIS QUEER HISTORICAL ROMANCE MASTERPIECE. Over the span of 3 queer historical romance novels, Jane Walsh has stolen my heart and taken control of my brain. This series is everything I have ever wanted in a sapphic historical romance - again, and again, and again. The prose is witty and light and the romance is heart aching and beautiful. It is a regency romance about queer liberation and profound safety. About being unabashedly yourself and about using the privilege you have to care for the community around you. This book is a sapphic romance between an ice princess duchess who hates the cold in a lavender marriage with a gay duke and a curvy butch single mother who builds safer worlds for herself and her community as an interior designer. This romance is raw and mature and emotional and community building and self affirming. There are big flowy dresses and broody dukes and loving dandies and social scandal and DID I MENTION A CURVY HISTORICAL BUTCH?? I loved this book just as much as the last one and you cannot make me choose a favorite. The books in this series - and this one in particular - feel like the purest distillation of my love for regency romance and my authentic queer self. This book so fully embodies what reading romance can be like for me as a queer woman, and I would like 7 billion copies so that I can stand on the rooftops and throw them at every single person in this world. Thanks to NetGalley and Bold Strokes for this absolute perfection in ARC form.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kaila

    4/5 stars I absolutely adored this! Jane Walsh’s previous book, Her Countess to Cherish, was one of my favourite books of last year so I was so excited to see that she had a new release. This book follows Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne who is known for being a stickler for the rules and an upstanding member of society, despite the less than stellar reputation of her Husband. She is in need of redecorating her house (maybe as a way of preventing her husband from moving back in), and is given the n 4/5 stars I absolutely adored this! Jane Walsh’s previous book, Her Countess to Cherish, was one of my favourite books of last year so I was so excited to see that she had a new release. This book follows Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne who is known for being a stickler for the rules and an upstanding member of society, despite the less than stellar reputation of her Husband. She is in need of redecorating her house (maybe as a way of preventing her husband from moving back in), and is given the name of Letitia Barrow to do the job. After spending so much time together, the chemistry between the pair cannot be ignored, regardless of what society might dictate. Jane Walsh has a fantastic ability to draw the reader into her stories and her characters lives. From start to finish, I was fully captivated by the story and the characters, and honestly couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. There were so many sweet moments, some subtle flirting and steam at just the right moments. Both the characters were completely loveable but flawed, and the side characters were well-developed. In fact I think a lot of the side characters, some of them old and some of them new, brought so much heart and charisma to the story. Readers that love ‘ice queen’ characters will also adore the development of Anne’s character, and her journey to letting go and greater acceptance of herself. While the book may take some historical liberties in this plot (although I’m not an expert on the matter and cannot say for sure), it doesn’t take you out of the story at all. In fact, the lgbt+ advocacy and community plots in the book brought me so much joy. Overall, the romance was wonderful, the plots were engaging and the characters were loveable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is tired of her reputation as the Ice Queen of London society. She resolves to leave behind her cold-hearted marriage to the duke—and to find a woman to keep her warm at night. Perhaps the dashing designer she hires to transform her Mayfair estate can also help her to transform her life. Letitia Barrow has big dreams of running her own interior design business. The opportunity to reinvent the Hawthorne estate is the job that will finally establish her as a leading Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is tired of her reputation as the Ice Queen of London society. She resolves to leave behind her cold-hearted marriage to the duke—and to find a woman to keep her warm at night. Perhaps the dashing designer she hires to transform her Mayfair estate can also help her to transform her life. Letitia Barrow has big dreams of running her own interior design business. The opportunity to reinvent the Hawthorne estate is the job that will finally establish her as a leading designer among the ton. The duchess might make her weak in the knees, but giving in to temptation could risk everything she’s working so hard to build. The designer and the duchess embark on an affair, with renovations to the house in full swing—and the renovations in their hearts well underway. Then, unexpectedly, the duke returns home and their feelings are tested. Can London’s hottest new designer melt the Ice Queen forever? This is a pretty good book which is a lot of different things that have been able to make it all for the story to read. The Duke is gay and the Duchess is too. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinion of this book which I read and reviewed voluntarily.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Her Duchess to Desire is a queer historical romance by Jane Walsh. Letty, an unmarried working woman has been given the chance to design the London home of the Duchess of Hawthorne, who has decided to renovate her house to keep her estranged husband away from his ducal duties. While Letty wants to show off her skill, the duchess, Anne, has been slowing her progress and the two embark on an affair. My favourite aspect of this book was the sense of queer chosen family which I was not expecting. Let Her Duchess to Desire is a queer historical romance by Jane Walsh. Letty, an unmarried working woman has been given the chance to design the London home of the Duchess of Hawthorne, who has decided to renovate her house to keep her estranged husband away from his ducal duties. While Letty wants to show off her skill, the duchess, Anne, has been slowing her progress and the two embark on an affair. My favourite aspect of this book was the sense of queer chosen family which I was not expecting. Letty and Anne’s friends around them are a huge support as they both navigate the relationship they find themselves in. The romance itself felt rushed and there was a portion in the middle of the book that felt slow and lost pace with the rest of the story. However, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would from the description, there is definitely more to the story than the blurb mentions. I don’t think there is a lot of sapphic historical fiction out there and I’m glad to see another added to the genre!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Teneisha (Teesbookjourney)

    I appreciated the complicity of this romance, Anne and her husband had a marriage that is beneficial to them both. He's however left her to deal with the backlash. Over the years she's turned into a new person to deal with the situation. In comes Letty a free spirit who doesn't want to hide her true self. I truly enjoyed Anne's evolution and Letty's discoveries. Both women grow together and apart. A lovely story. I am not sure if all the external things were historically actuated but the real st I appreciated the complicity of this romance, Anne and her husband had a marriage that is beneficial to them both. He's however left her to deal with the backlash. Over the years she's turned into a new person to deal with the situation. In comes Letty a free spirit who doesn't want to hide her true self. I truly enjoyed Anne's evolution and Letty's discoveries. Both women grow together and apart. A lovely story. I am not sure if all the external things were historically actuated but the real stories of Annie, her husband and Letty was spectacular

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    I was sent the e-ARC for Her Duchess to Desire. We have Lettie, an unmarried mother with aspirations to be an interior designer. She has big dreams to be a good role model for her son in making her way in the world. We also have Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne. She’s the icy duchess whose heart is hardened after her husband abandoned her for Paris and his lover. I liked Lettie, she is a modern woman who is transparent about who she is and I love that about her. I felt like Anne was very much repr I was sent the e-ARC for Her Duchess to Desire. We have Lettie, an unmarried mother with aspirations to be an interior designer. She has big dreams to be a good role model for her son in making her way in the world. We also have Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne. She’s the icy duchess whose heart is hardened after her husband abandoned her for Paris and his lover. I liked Lettie, she is a modern woman who is transparent about who she is and I love that about her. I felt like Anne was very much repressed by the constraints of her upper-class society. Her journey to love freely and become the woman she wants to be is a beautiful journey. Their relationship is tender and uplifting. The Duke of Hawthorne was a vibrant and charismatic character, a juxtaposition to Anne and at first, I was wary of his motives but came to like him as the story progressed. However, I cannot say the same for Lettie’s adult son, who came across as an entitled brat. I enjoyed this book for its primarily queer cast, and it was beautiful to read a book where the characters were able to socialise in dedicated queer spaces. This book gave us brief glimpses on the topic of criminalisation and ostracisation of queer people in a historical setting and how the community helps each other in these situations. I found that intriguing and would have liked it if the book delved deeper. Historical romances are a form of escapism. We read romance stories to believe people can find love and live happily ever after. In order for romances to work for any marginalised group, we must in some part suspend historical reality. But then again, it is wonderful when an author works within the narrow constraints of historical context and still provides that happily ever after. This is what Jane Walsh did in Her Duchess to Desire. We have a book with a predominantly queer cast, we have an unmarried working mother with career ambitions, a queer couple who married each other to hide their queerness but ultimately learn to live truthfully.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. Her Duchess to Desire is Jane Walsh’s third sapphic Regency. While it is a stand-alone, and billed as such, there are overlapping characters with her two prior books. One of Walsh’s strongest points is her ability to build a strong, positive queer community in a time period that is known to have sometimes been hostile to them. I love an Ice Queen heroine who melts in the hands of the I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. Her Duchess to Desire is Jane Walsh’s third sapphic Regency. While it is a stand-alone, and billed as such, there are overlapping characters with her two prior books. One of Walsh’s strongest points is her ability to build a strong, positive queer community in a time period that is known to have sometimes been hostile to them. I love an Ice Queen heroine who melts in the hands of the right person, and Anne is a great personification of that. She is largely estranged from her husband, and prefers it that way, but is also longing for companionship…from a woman. Despite having her walls up, she has this lovely softness and vulnerability to her. Letty is also a cool character, and I love that she has her own interior design business. She’s also much more open about who she is, which is a very daring thing, considering the time period, but also exactly what Anne needs to come out of her shell. Seeing the romance blossom between them, even with Anne’s reticence, was beautiful. I also like how the depiction of the marriage between the Duke and Duchess ultimately wasn’t treated as an obstacle to be gotten rid of, given there were reasons for queer people to enter into heterosexual marriages, and both had similar reasons for wanting to enter and continue in the marriage, which don’t radically change by the end. The way this is balanced with the HEA between the central couple is well-done, even if not every reader will be into it, because of their rigid definitions of what’s considered “cheating.” I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a slightly unconventional sapphic historical romance.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    This was a lovely read, with two compelling leads, a fully-fleshed out world, and a wonderful cast of supporting characters. Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is trapped in a miserable marriage of convenience. She’s dreading the return of her husband, his lover in tow, and goes to great lengths to prevent it - namely, hiring an interior designer to completely overhaul her house in the hope that it will be unliveable. Letitia Barrow, a designer determined to make a name for herself, wants to not onl This was a lovely read, with two compelling leads, a fully-fleshed out world, and a wonderful cast of supporting characters. Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is trapped in a miserable marriage of convenience. She’s dreading the return of her husband, his lover in tow, and goes to great lengths to prevent it - namely, hiring an interior designer to completely overhaul her house in the hope that it will be unliveable. Letitia Barrow, a designer determined to make a name for herself, wants to not only be appreciated for her skills but to earn enough money to comfortably support herself and her son. No prizes for guessing what happens next! 📚Find this and other reviews on my blog!📚 Not only do we have slightly older leads than we usually do in regency romance, each of our two leads had her own character arc, including friends and family, that was distinct (but not completely unconnected) from the romance. In fact, I would say that the romance acted more as a vehicle for their individual storylines, both of which were incredibly satisfying to read. I also loved the focus on the wider queer community, the challenges they faced, and how the characters dealt with them. While the author doesn’t shy away from the very real dangers facing queer people of this era, she isn’t afraid to give them all a happy ending too. Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy for review. All opinions are my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zoë

    This was a really enjoyable sapphic historical romance! I liked that the characters were actually mature adults (34 and 42) with their own lives and their own complex backstories. I enjoyed the actual romance. I appreciated that there was some racial diversity in the supporting cast, cause this genre tends to be very white. But I think my favorite thing was the focus on historical queer community and the ways in which queer people have always managed to find each other and form bonds, whether th This was a really enjoyable sapphic historical romance! I liked that the characters were actually mature adults (34 and 42) with their own lives and their own complex backstories. I enjoyed the actual romance. I appreciated that there was some racial diversity in the supporting cast, cause this genre tends to be very white. But I think my favorite thing was the focus on historical queer community and the ways in which queer people have always managed to find each other and form bonds, whether those bonds are romantic or sexual or platonic. That’s another thing that I don’t see often enough in books, but especially not in historical romance. This one wasn’t as political as I personally might have liked to see, but there were some good and interesting conversations about power and privilege. There were definitely also some issues. The title and cover art are quite frankly embarrassing. It’s an indie book, and the writing wasn’t always super consistent. And the historical accuracy was pretty poor in some very distracting ways when it came to things like the characters’ hairstyles and clothing. But I still very much enjoyed the book overall and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a sapphic regency romance! Content warnings: homophobia, misogyny, classism, violence (minor)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Monique S.

    Georgette Heyer started me on loving historical romances with strong female leads with "Faro's Daughter" and her only true queer one "Masqueraders" had me hooked. The only thiing I missed was a true lesbian one, but then her time probably didn't permet her to write one. So I am always interested in those, who nowadays write historical romances about lesbian women. This one is well and truly a delight, witty and with two great female leads, but also a host of wonderful other characters, almost all Georgette Heyer started me on loving historical romances with strong female leads with "Faro's Daughter" and her only true queer one "Masqueraders" had me hooked. The only thiing I missed was a true lesbian one, but then her time probably didn't permet her to write one. So I am always interested in those, who nowadays write historical romances about lesbian women. This one is well and truly a delight, witty and with two great female leads, but also a host of wonderful other characters, almost all of them queer. While some might want to call Anne, Duchess Hawthorne, an ice queen, she didn't read like that at all to me and I found the romance between Letty and her very sweet. The whole plot line is very inventive and I regretted starting it late in the day, as I probably would have read it in one go, had I not fallen asleep on my couch with the book in hand (sometime around midnight,I guess), after a couple of glasses of nice Shiraz. I will definitely have a look at the previous two books in Jane Walsh's nobility series, now that I know to buy the papaerbacks from the start, to be able to re-read several times ... and on my sofa with some nice music for background.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Silvia

    Anne and her husband, Duchess and Duke of Hawthorne have a convenience marriage. The Duke has been living in France with his lover for the past ten years and is now returning to his duties. Anne, who was deeply hurt by her husband’s abandonment, feels threatened as she doensn’t want to give up control of the duchy or be embarassed by her husband living with his lover in her home. So she chooses to remodel, no one would want to move into a construction site. She chose Letitia for this role, becau Anne and her husband, Duchess and Duke of Hawthorne have a convenience marriage. The Duke has been living in France with his lover for the past ten years and is now returning to his duties. Anne, who was deeply hurt by her husband’s abandonment, feels threatened as she doensn’t want to give up control of the duchy or be embarassed by her husband living with his lover in her home. So she chooses to remodel, no one would want to move into a construction site. She chose Letitia for this role, because she believes that she’s so inexperienced that she will fail. But Letty not only doen;t fail her job she manages to thaw the ice queen, You must be willing to overlook the fact that it’s the 1800 and Letty is openly gay without repercusions but having a child out of wedlock and a job is what causes her problems. The Duke is living with his lover and no one, King George included, bats an eyelid. 3.5 stars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is a regency romance with a twist - both the Duke and Duchess of Hawthorne are gay. In a time where that is still punishable by prison time. Anne, Duchess of Hawthorne, is furious that her husband has returned to England from Paris, where he has lived fairly openly as a gay man, ruining his reputation in the process. She has done the opposite, known as a cold, discerning, by-the-book Duchess. The Duke's return, with his lover, seems to set something loose in Anne- and she hires Letty to red This is a regency romance with a twist - both the Duke and Duchess of Hawthorne are gay. In a time where that is still punishable by prison time. Anne, Duchess of Hawthorne, is furious that her husband has returned to England from Paris, where he has lived fairly openly as a gay man, ruining his reputation in the process. She has done the opposite, known as a cold, discerning, by-the-book Duchess. The Duke's return, with his lover, seems to set something loose in Anne- and she hires Letty to redesign the house, with the intent of keeping the Duke from returning to it and resuming the powers and positions that she has been filling since his departure. Letty's and Anne's romance seems romance novel-worthy, filled with misunderstandings, longing, hot interludes, and eventual love, with a twist. This is worth a read if you like Regency romance.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lets

    DFN at 48% Unfortunately I couldn't finish this book. It was not that it had something wrong with it, which is why I'm still giving it 3 stars, but I guess it's not for me. I was excited to read this after binge watching Bridgerton (and missing queer characters in it) but it didn't really click for me. I really liked The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics and it's impossible not to compare the two reads since they're both sapphic in regency times. But I guess I didn't really like either the chara DFN at 48% Unfortunately I couldn't finish this book. It was not that it had something wrong with it, which is why I'm still giving it 3 stars, but I guess it's not for me. I was excited to read this after binge watching Bridgerton (and missing queer characters in it) but it didn't really click for me. I really liked The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics and it's impossible not to compare the two reads since they're both sapphic in regency times. But I guess I didn't really like either the characters of the Duchess or Letty. I didn't really feel the emotional connection between them. And even though I can appreciate a story where being queer doesn't really seem to be a big deal it still felt too easy for the two of them to accept their feelings and act on it. * Thanks to NegGalley and Bold Stroke Books for providing me with a copy to review with my honest opinion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eive

    It's not often that I read historical romance but this one was actually kinda good. However, portraying the duchess as the ice queen of London society didn't really match to how she acted around Letitia. Anne was a bit cold-hearted to Letty at first but gradually warmed up to her due to their mutual attraction to each other. I would say she's more like an ice princess that gradually thawed after meeting her love interest. The writing and the dialogue matched with the era the characters were in a It's not often that I read historical romance but this one was actually kinda good. However, portraying the duchess as the ice queen of London society didn't really match to how she acted around Letitia. Anne was a bit cold-hearted to Letty at first but gradually warmed up to her due to their mutual attraction to each other. I would say she's more like an ice princess that gradually thawed after meeting her love interest. The writing and the dialogue matched with the era the characters were in and it was great. But overall, I think this book was average at its best. I didn't feel that wow factor, especially with how things came to a resolution. However, I still liked this and would recommend it for people who are in search of regency romances.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Wenger

    When her husband and his male lover return to London after a decade on the continent, duchess Anne has no interest in sharing a home with them. To keep them at bay, she hires a designer to remodel the house. Letitia is unconventional but has a unique gift for designing spaces to match the personality of her clients. She and Anne soon start an affair. But when the duke moves into the house despite the chaos, can Anne and Letty keep their budding relationship alive? This is an intriguing story with When her husband and his male lover return to London after a decade on the continent, duchess Anne has no interest in sharing a home with them. To keep them at bay, she hires a designer to remodel the house. Letitia is unconventional but has a unique gift for designing spaces to match the personality of her clients. She and Anne soon start an affair. But when the duke moves into the house despite the chaos, can Anne and Letty keep their budding relationship alive? This is an intriguing story with fascinating, likable characters. Anne and Letty's affair is intense, but their social positions work against them. I enjoyed seeing how they worked through their issues to win their HEA. Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    MissAlice 2U

    What a magnificent piece of writing. I usually pride myself on my vocabulary, but this writer had me using a dictionary many times and that made my nerdy self infinitely happy. Her use of the time's vernacular, the changing of the voices from Duchess, Regent, to common tongue was marvelous. You do not have to be a history buff to fall for this book. The love story will sweep you up in its arms, the bouts of turmoil will unmoor you, the reveal is significantly wonderful, the MC's are emblazoned i What a magnificent piece of writing. I usually pride myself on my vocabulary, but this writer had me using a dictionary many times and that made my nerdy self infinitely happy. Her use of the time's vernacular, the changing of the voices from Duchess, Regent, to common tongue was marvelous. You do not have to be a history buff to fall for this book. The love story will sweep you up in its arms, the bouts of turmoil will unmoor you, the reveal is significantly wonderful, the MC's are emblazoned in my brain and it all culminated into an HEA that time stood still for. I was so swept away in the tone and the scenery and the imagery and the verbiage... I cannot wait to read this again and again. It is truly timeless. I received a free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is my first read of Jane Walsh’s and it just so happens to be a sapphic historical fiction. Say no more. Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is a typical ice queen who lives to rule and do it well in the process. To prevent her husband from moving back into their estate, Anne decides to hire someone to redecorate. Cue Letitia Barrow - who just so happens to want to grow her business away from her current neighborhood. As time passes and their relationship evolves, the once icy exterior of Anne b This is my first read of Jane Walsh’s and it just so happens to be a sapphic historical fiction. Say no more. Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne, is a typical ice queen who lives to rule and do it well in the process. To prevent her husband from moving back into their estate, Anne decides to hire someone to redecorate. Cue Letitia Barrow - who just so happens to want to grow her business away from her current neighborhood. As time passes and their relationship evolves, the once icy exterior of Anne begins to melt, and she develops into an adoring character. The journey that the reader takes with Anne as she lets go and begins to accept herself, is truly captivating. Thank you to NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    I enjoyed this book and the two main characters had a great dynamic. Even though Letty was of a lower standing, she never let it stop her from doing her work or going after what she wanted whereas Anne, the Duchess, seemed like she had everything she could want but was still missing out on love. I liked the development of each character's feelings towards the other and liked how the chapters alternated between both of their POV's so the reader can see what they are both thinking throughout the no I enjoyed this book and the two main characters had a great dynamic. Even though Letty was of a lower standing, she never let it stop her from doing her work or going after what she wanted whereas Anne, the Duchess, seemed like she had everything she could want but was still missing out on love. I liked the development of each character's feelings towards the other and liked how the chapters alternated between both of their POV's so the reader can see what they are both thinking throughout the novel. Overall a good, easy to read novel with likable characters with a little bit of drama added in to add to the excitement. * I received an ARC on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review *

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This was a fun Sapphic regency romance filled with likeable and well-developed characters. It is the story of Anne, the Duchess of Hawthorne and Letitia who is trying to build her own interior design business which is made harder as she is a woman as well as an unmarried mother. If you love historical fiction, especially a Sapphic regency romances, then this novel is for you. Thanks NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book for review!

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