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Duchess by Design

(The Gilded Age Girls Club #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  651 ratings  ·  169 reviews
In the first novel of Maya Rodale's enthralling new series, an English duke vows to make an American seamstress his duchess...

In Gilded Age Manhattan, anything can happen...

Seeking a wealthy American bride who can save his family's estate, Brandon Fiennes, the duke of Kingston, is a rogue determined to do the right thing. But his search for an heiress goes deliciously awry
Mass Market Paperback, 371 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Avon
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3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  651 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Joanna Loves Reading
3.5 Stars — it took me along time to read this, but that was primarily due to it being hard copy. Otherwise I enjoyed. In terms of romance, there was too much back and forth, will they? Won’t they? But I thought the h&h well suited, and there is cute and witty dialogue.

It was focused on women’s rights and the positions they hold and small and large ways to liberate women. These are themes that have appeared in her previous books, though subtler, but I was happy with the setting of this book
I've given this an A- for narration and a B for content at AudioGals

Duchess by Design is the first entry in Maya Rodale’s new Gilded Age Girls Club series of historical romances, set – not surprisingly – in New York’s Gilded Age at the end of the nineteenth century. While the premise – an impoverished duke who needs to marry money falls for a penniless woman instead – is a well-worn one, Ms. Rodale gives it a fresh coat of paint while also encompassing the many changes in society that were hap
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely story. A very good begin of the new series.
Blodeuedd Finland
Have I ever read a romance set in the Gilded age? I honestly can't tell. I think not. I have read historical fiction set then, but no romance. Oh and where is that tv series they talked about that would be set at this time? I need it.

Adeline is a seamstress with big dreams of her own shops, and she has this crazy idea in her designs. Pockets! Yes I told you that she is insane. Pockets, like why would women need pockets? (oh this makes me so sad, we still do not get pockets. I need pockets.) Her
Tracy Emro
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, rounded up.

Brandon Fiennes, The Duke of Kingston needs to find a rich bride, he inherited a failing estate, two unmarried sisters and a mother with an expensive sense of style. He consults with his cousin Freddie and is told that if he wants a heiress, New York is the place to go hunting.

Adeline Black is a seamstress with dreams of opening her own shop and creating her own designs, her dreams do not include love, marriage or handsome dukes - until a chance meeting in a hotel lobby. Sh
This is a fantastic historical romance that I highly recommend. Although it's a great romance, what I loved even more was the time period (the Gilded Age) and the rich/poor and male/female dynamics going on. I loved how the heroine was challenging the world in which she lived and how the hero grew into a better man as a result of his meeting her. It really is one of the most successful romances I've read in awhile - the focus on female empowerment alone was 5 star worthy as it was handled so def ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read quite a few historical romance novels, but only one other that was set in the Gilded Age. When I found out about Duchess by Design being set in America as opposed to the usual setting of Britain, I was quite intrigued. Duchess by Design was a surprising read for me. I loved the focus on independence, feminism and chasing dreams.

Brandon, Duke of Kingston, is broke and is in desperate need of a wealthy wife to make amends on his estate. His search for a bride brings him to America whe
Leigh Kramer
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was such a fun, insightful historical romance! When it wasn't making me swoon, it was making me cheer on the inclusion of pockets in dresses and female empowerment in the Gilded Age.

Adeline was a winner of a heroine. She was so determined to become a dressmaker and for her designs to come to life. I loved the way she talked about fashion and the way she could show others what power lies in the way clothing is designed and who's wearing it. Fashion isn't just fashion and a dress is so much m
Maureen Carden
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, romance
I'm not actually doing a real review, just a few comments.
Duchess by Design actually had more depth than most historical romances that I read. Took on some historical truths of that period. Characters with some depth and inner lives, characters willing to make actual changes.
Joanna Shupe
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic. Full of Rodale's wit and feminist spin, set in the glitz and glamour of New York's Gilded Age. I loved that the feisty American heroine designs dresses (with pockets!). The hero is a stodgy duke looking for an heiress to save his crumbling English estate. This was a fascinating look at class politics at the time, as well as the contrasts between the Victorian Brits and the Gilded Age Americans.

It's a fun, easy read with plenty of steam. I devoured it!

*I was given an adva
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I try to make a point of reviewing the books I win, but I'm so afraid that my myriad of thoughts about this book will never get organized into a coherent review that will do this book the justice it deserves. I'll give it try anyway.

I adored this book. It's so well-written and relevant. Adeline was a wonderful heroine. She has goals that don't involve getting married, but instead revolve around her talent and passion as a dressmaker. Kingston, or the duke
Kayla Brunson
Feb 28, 2019 marked it as dnf
Shelves: historical
DNF @ 104 pages.

I had been looking forward to reading this book as soon as I picked it up the bookstore a few months ago. I was expecting this to scratch my Historical Romance itch and it was doing so… in the beginning. Towards the middle though, things started to shift and I got so annoyed. First things first, Adeline is an angel and I adored her! She was witty and had dreams for herself that women shouldn't want back in that time.

My issue resides with our Duke. He really didn’t realize how pr
Moon Love
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Passion, drama and female empowerment set in The Gilded Age? Yes, please!
Sissy's Romance Book Review
Duchess by Design by Maya Rodale is the First book in The Gilded Age Girls Club series. This is the story of Adeline Black and Brandon Fiennes, the duke of Kingston.
Brandon has inherited a Title with some rundown estates which are in need of money to repair them. Then he has a mother with expensive taste and two sister that will need to soon have their 'coming out'. So what Brandon settles on is getting a heiress wife which leads him to run into Adeline. Adeline is a seamstress who out to desig
Jen Davis
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’re looking for a historical with a somewhat different flair, look no further. Duchess by Design features the requisite duke the title suggests, but it takes us out of Regency England to New York’s Gilded Age, while he searches for his bride. It’s fresh and fun, and it’s filled with the kind of feminism and empowerment that made me want to cheer out loud.

Brandon is the stereotypical impoverished duke, in need of an heiress to help fill the coffers of his estate. The well of women who fit t
Erica Chilson
I received a copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads

4 Stars.

Duchess by Design is the debut in The Gilded Age Girls Club series, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment.

Just a decade until the turn of the twentieth century, the world is changing. Women are striving to find a voice and a life to call their own. Taking place in a thriving New York City, many impoverished entitled peers are flocking to America to marry heiresses to fund their failing dynasties bac
Connie Fischer
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
White’s Club, London - 1895

Brandon Alexander Fiennes has just become the fifth Duke of Kingston. The man is broke and needs to marry a wealthy woman. When his father died, Kingston was left with huge debts, estates needing monetary support, his large ancestral home, Lyon House, his widowed mother, and two sisters. With him at White’s is his cousin, Freddie, Lord Hewitt. The two had grown up together are best friends. Now, Freddie is suggesting that Kingston consider a marriage of convenience, bu
Tracy T.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a Maya Rodale fan so of course I have to get all her books. Great narration by Charlotte North (audible review)

I enjoyed this book. Maybe a little overboard with the word"pockets" LOL but still good.

The story line was fun and different. From London to New York, I really liked the women's club that helped Adeline with her shop and the women's movement they were pushing for. I really liked Adeline, she was smart, witty, funny and a strong female lead character. Always a bonus. I liked Kingsto
Shannon Dyer
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Round up to 4.5 stars. Utterly charming!
Miranda Kenneally
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so good! I loved it. Especially the girl power.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is quite new regarding to the plot as far as regency romances go, mostly because I think that I have never read about the marriage between a Duke (even if impoverished) and a seamstress, so I enjoyed it even if I thought that it was not particularly well written.

Questo libro per essere un regency romance ha una trama piuttosto innovativa, perché non ho mai letto di un duca che si sposa una sarta e quindi tutto sommato mi sono divertita anche se secondo me non é che sia scritto particol
Duchess by Design is pretty much what it says on the tin - an impoverished young Duke mistakes a young New York City dressmaker for her wealthy client and is immediately "enchanted" by her. What follows is a Gilded Age romance heavy on the feminism and lighter on the romance. If you enjoy reading about fashion, like in Loretta Chase's Dressmaker series, you'll enjoy this one.

The setting is fresh because, while Joanna Shupe has been exploring Gilded Age NYC for several novels, it's still uncommo
I loved the setting, and I'm always a sucker for a dressmaker story. This was a good beach read for me, handsome dukes, pretty dresses, and women's rights issues. However, and this is a big However, I really hated the anachronisms in speech. ("Inquiring minds want to know", "unmentionables in a twist", etc.) Maybe I'm too much of a stickler, but I like my historical novels to revel in their time period and to not play footsie with modern slang and speech. If I want modern speech out of place, I' ...more
I enjoyed this story. The characters were well thought out and had a lot of dimension. However, I was not all that enthralled with the book. I found myself sort of skimming through some parts. It felt more like a love story to women's rights than anything else. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it but it just lacked a certain something to me.

In the beginning I was highlighting so much because it resonated with me. It was like an ode to women everywhere. A lot of the problems Adeline faces are probl
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, arc, historical, romance
2.5 stars. I skimmed the second half. The duke was super dense and his character growth arc was clumsily handled, and on top of that I didn't buy the romance--they're half in love after 30 seconds of insubstantial flirtation in an elevator.

See The Duchess War by Courtney Milan for a more successful execution of the "a duke learns to recognize his own privilege" arc.
In a letter from the author, Rodale explains her research and the few changes that she made to incorporate the very real issues of the day pertaining to activism in terms of female empowerment and choices: from snippets of speeches to the very real “Dollar Duchess’ phenomenon, to a society that provided options heretofore unknown to women for their own self-determination. And each of these moments played an important part in this story and in the progression of Adeline on the way to making her d ...more
Rose Blue
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars as reviewed at Roses Are Blue:

It’s 1895, and New York City is abuzz with talk about the young and handsome Duke of Kingston visiting from England, rumored to be looking for a wealthy bride. When the duke, Brandon, discovered just what a financial shambles he inherited from his father, he decided to sacrifice his own desires and marry for money. Since English heiresses are few and far between, he travels to America, where they are plentiful. When Brandon literall
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Duchess by Design is the first book in The Gilded Age Girls Club by Maya Rodale. I am happy to report that I enjoyed this book so much that I am determined to read all the future books in the series.

Brandon Fiennes, the Duke of Kingston always thought he would marry for love. But when his father dies and he takes on the Dukedom he also takes on a very run down estate, plus the responsibility of his mother and two sisters both needing dowries and all 3 needing the best of fashions. In desperate n
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I do not think I have ever read a historical romance that takes place in the Gilded Age. Plus it is staged in New York City versus the typical city of London. Double ding! I was drawn in by the whole scene Maya Rodale paints! This book starts out like so many do-a rogue Duke is in need of a duchess. And not just any duchess, the Duke's estate is failing, so she has to have a sizable dowry. What transpires is a wonderful tale of independence, dreams, and a notable women's movement.

The Gilded age
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is my first historical read with the Gilded Age as background. So I discovered a lot, I was a little like the Duke, learning a whole different world.
Adeline Black, the seamstress with a dream of becoming a dressmaker is really a very intriguing young woman, she does not give up, she sizes opportunities and wants most than everything to keep her freedom, why she can’t think to marry and relinquish her hard won money to a man.
She has a heart of gold, as she does not only work for herself but al
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Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence. She is now the author of numerous smart and sassy romance novels. A champion of the romance genre and its readers, she is also the author of the non-fiction book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation Of Romance Novels, Explained and a co-founder of Lady Jane’s Salon, a national reading series devoted to romanti ...more

Other books in the series

The Gilded Age Girls Club (3 books)
  • Some Like It Scandalous (The Gilded Age Girls Club, #2)
  • An Heiress to Remember (The Gilded Age Girls Club, #3)
“It’s simple. Women are raised to be seen and not heard; why, it’s still scandalous for a woman to speak publicly. So we make ourselves heard with our clothes. We wear full skirts to take up space in the world that wants us to be shut away in drawing rooms and kitchens. We wear bright colors to remind mankind that we exist. For example.” “An interesting perspective I had not considered. It does have a ring of logic to it,” he conceded. “But what is the message that a dead bird on a hat is trying to convey?” “That one feels trapped and powerless in their existence.” 0 likes
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