Review: Duncan’s Bride by Linda Howard

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Third Person, Dual
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Gideon Reese Duncan
Heroine: Madelyn Sanger Patterson
Sensuality: 3.5
Published On: May 25, 1998
Started On: January 28, 2022
Finished On: January 28, 2022

WANTED: A WIFE for able-bodied rancher. Must be of steady character, want children, and be able to work on ranch. Age 25 to 35 preferable.

Duncan’s Bride by Linda Howard is a favorite of mine from long before. I don’t particularly remember why a review for this delightful book was never written by yours truly, but I aim to rectify it this time around having come upon that sad realization.

34 year old Gideon Reese Duncan (Duncan) is a rancher who lost everything to his ex-wife, having slowly built back his life from the ashes that were left behind in the wake of the departure of the woman who had felt entitled to take half of everything that he had owned. Having crawled his way back to a position from which he could start thinking about a future again, Duncan decides it is time to find himself a wife once again, but this time he is going to be smart about it. There would be no courting her, no seeking love – just a plain old arrangement of convenience where he would get what he wants out of the marriage without the emotional and financial entanglements.

28 year old Madelyn Sanger Patterson (Maddie) is restless with her lot in life and yearns for something that would take her out of the rut her life has become. When she stumbles across the ad placed for a wife, something in her urges her to act and respond to the call. Ultimately, even though Duncan believes that he might be making the wrong choice once again given how drawn to Maddie he is physically, there is no denying fate when something is written down to happen, and that is exactly how Duncan finds himself married to Maddie, a woman who is accustomed to all sorts of comforts in life, someone Duncan has misgivings about her suitability to the kind of life that is ranching.

However, Duncan soon finds out that his wife is not a shrinking violet he thought she would be and is more than capable of living up to the expectations of any rancher looking for a partner who is willing to give it their all. The sexual attraction between the two is something Duncan embraces wholeheartedly, a bonus under the circumstances when he had been resigned to a life of comfort and companionship when he had initially sought to get married.

For Maddie, Duncan is the man who makes everything within her come alive, the missing piece of her soul that perfectly aligns with her desires and needs. While Duncan is a hard man to reach emotionally, Maddie believes that she is making headway, slowly but surely, up till the point where Duncan’s stubborn pride gets in the way, putting her everything they have together on the line. But Maddie being who she is, is willing to give Duncan the kind of fight he would not win easily, and that is one of the many reasons why this book stands out in a big way.

Duncan’s Bride is a story that features a hero that can only be defined as alpha. Once bitten, twice as shy, Duncan guards his emotions closely and his checkbook even closer. Having learnt his lesson when it comes to preying women, Duncan is determined that no one else would get the best of him, not even the surprise that is his mail-ordered bride Maddie. Thwart her attempts he does, especially when it comes to considering her as an equal partner in their marriage, the fear of losing everything once again preying on his mind, when Duncan does not realize that going down that road he is sure to lose what is most precious to him above everything else.

While Duncan at times makes you want to give him a couple slaps (and hard) because of his stubborn nature and that formidable pride of his, that is also part of the reason why this story worms its way into your heart in a way that is undefinable. Maddie is the perfect antidote to the poison that Duncan has consumed even though he cannot see it for what it is, and when the inevitable happens, Duncan obviously thinks the worst, to be proven spectacularly wrong in a way that makes all the heartache worth it. The grovel game in this novel is strong, which gives it the perfect five stars the story so deserves.

Recommended for fans of marriage of convenience trope romances featuring strong, stubborn, and prideful alpha heroes and their equally stubborn and strong women who do not give up. Duncan and Maddie do not disappoint!

Final Verdict: Duncan’s Bride is a story that I will never tire of; the arrogant and virile hero being brought to his very knees makes the angst-ridden pages all worth it!

Favorite Quotes

Vaguely she heard other people around them. It didn’t matter. He was making love to her with his mouth, arousing her, satisfying her, consuming her. He increased the slant of his head, tucking her head more firmly into his shoulder, and kissed her with all the burning sensuality she had sensed in him on first sight.
Her heart lurched as pleasure overrode shock, swiftly escalating to an almost unbearable tension. She not only welcomed the intrusion of his tongue, she met it with her own, making love to him as surely as he was to her.

He tossed the washcloth into the basin and took his hat off, dropping it onto the floor. The arm behind her back tightened and drew her in to him as he bent his head, and his mouth closed over hers.
It was the same way he’d kissed her in the airport, the way he hadn’t kissed her since. His mouth was hard and hot, urgent in his demands. His tongue pushed into her mouth, and she met it with her own, welcoming, enticing, wanting more.

The sunlight sifted down through the leaves, dappling his gleaming skin, and his eyes were fiercely primitive as he kneed her thighs apart. He looked wild and magnificent, and she made a soft whimpering sound of need as she reached for him.
He tore her clothes, and she didn’t care. The seam of her chemise gave way beneath his twisting fingers, and the taut rise of her breasts thrust nakedly up at him. He sucked strongly at her while he shoved her skirt to her waist and hooked his fingers in the waistband of her underpants. She lifted her hips to aid him, but heard the rip of lace, and then he threw the shreds to one side.

He undid her skirt and stripped it down her legs; then she parted her thighs and reached for him again, and he couldn’t wait a minute longer. The sight of those sleek legs opening for him was an image that had haunted his dreams. He’d intended to be easier with her this time, but as soon as he penetrated she made a wild sound in her throat and her hips rolled, and he went mad again.

Green eyes locked with gray. He hooked his fingers in the hem of her skirt and jerked it upward, at the same time spreading her legs and moving forward between them. She sank her hands into his wet hair and held his head while her mouth attacked his with a fierce kiss that held mingled anger and desire. He said, “Maddie,” in a rough tone as he tore her underpants out of the way, then jerked at his belt and the fastening of his jeans.
It was just as it had been in the back of the truck. The rush of passion was hard and fast and overwhelming.

He unbuttoned her blouse while she performed the same service for his shirt. When he had undipped her bra he slowly brought their bare torsos together, turning her slightly from side to side so that her breasts rubbed his chest and his curly hair rasped against her nipples, making her arch in his arms.
“God, I can’t get enough of you,” he muttered.
“I don’t want you to.”

Release left her weak, pliable. She lay back across the hood of the car, breathing hard, her eyes closed. Reese gripped her hips and began thrusting hard and fast, wanting that sweet weakness for himself. Her eyes slowly opened as he drove into her, and she closed her hands around his wrists. “I love you,” she said again.
Until he heard the words once more he hadn’t realized how badly he’d needed them, wanted them. She was his, and had been from the moment she’d walked through the airport toward him. He groaned, and his hips jerked; then the pleasure hit him, and he couldn’t think for a long time. All he could do was feel, and sink forward onto her soft body and into her arms.

She felt drained, more exhausted than before. She lay limply as he knelt between her legs and tore at his clothes, throwing them aside. She could barely open her eyes as he positioned himself and then invaded her with a slow, heavy thrust that carried him into her to the hilt. As always, she was faintly startled by the overwhelming sense of fullness as she adjusted to him.
His full weight was on her, crushing her downward. There was nothing gentlemanly about him now, only the need to enter her as deeply as possible, to carry the embrace to the fullest so that there was no part of her that didn’t feel his possession.

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