Duchess by Design: The Gilded Age Girls Club

Written by MAYA RODALE
Review by Misty Urban

Women’s lib gets sexy in this bright, saucy tale set in Gilded Age New York City. The Duke of Kingston requires an American dollar princess to restore his decaying estates, and Adeline Black does not fit his requirements; she’s a scrappy seamstress—or rather, dressmaker—with designs on her own shop and high-class clients, which leaves her no time for an interfering Duke. That is, unless helping said Duke with his heiress hunting will showcase her unique gowns that allow a woman freedom, allure, and—most daring of all—pockets. The very ducal Kingston needs an education in how to treat an ambitious, independent, luscious lady, which Adeline is glad to provide in between championing the working girl and trying to protect herself from gossip and her clients’ handsy husbands. The more Adeline makes him see the error of his traditional ways, however, the more Kingston wonders whether this dashing American might be the duchess of his dreams. It’s chick lit set in 1895, bouncy and playing for laughs, but the glitz doesn’t hide the starker hints of just how limited women’s options could be in Adeline’s world.