You can read this either before or after Bedding Lord Ned and Surprising Lord Jack, but it’s more fun to read it after Bedding Lord Ned just because it gives you a glimpse into the Duke and Duchess before they had children.
Here we see Venus, who will later become known as the Duchess of Love, trying to pull her sister out of her books and towards some eligible men. Living in a small town, and being daughters of a vicar aren’t really conducive to meeting handsome men.
Enter the Duke of Greycliffe and his cousin.
The duke, Andrew is only 21, while his cousin Mr. Valentine is 28, so when his new housekeeper mistakes Valentine for the Andrew, Drew decides to roll with it. It would be nice to not have to be himself for a few days. He could merely be Drew.
But Drew comes upon a beautiful girl about to skinny dip in the pond on his property, and well, he falls head over heels. But he sort of lets her believe he’s Mr. Valentine, and then promises to introduce her sister to the duke (or, really, his cousin).
It is a cute little romance with a Big Misunderstanding, but because it’s short, it works. When Venus finds out he’s lied to her (and she finds out in a horrible way), she thinks he did it to make fun of how gullible she is. It was pretty heartbreaking. I wish that there had been a teensy bit more at the end, maybe just to see what happened with her sister, or the horrible ladies from London (I mean, we can assume it all works out, of course, but it would’ve given the story some closure).
I liked this one, and from what I’ve heard, this short story is at the back of the paperback edition of Bedding Lord Ned.