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The Duke's Den #2

Anything But a Duke

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Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he’s ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need, but the one thing he can’t purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage.

Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan’s marriage to the perfect lady—as long as that lady isn’t her. She doesn’t need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety.

As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can’t ignore.

In the Duke’s Den, can happiness ever be a winning prospect?

368 pages, ebook

First published April 30, 2019

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About the author

Christy Carlyle

36 books514 followers
Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 116 reviews
Profile Image for WhiskeyintheJar.
1,317 reviews539 followers
April 17, 2019
2.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Second in the Duke's Den series that follows three friends who invest together, Anything But a Duke follows the one without a title, Aidan Iverson. He's been able to rise from a childhood where the mother he can't remember left him and his sister and amassed great wealth. What he can't seem to overcome is the snobbery of the ton and certain doors remain closed to him. He decides that marrying an aristocrats daughter is his gateway to all these doors.

Diana doesn't want to get married and is trying to keep her family afloat by creating an invention that members of the Duke's Den will want to invest in. Her and her mother come to an agreement that if by the end of the month, if her invention doesn't become profitable, she will have to marry. When a chance encounter has her rescuing and kissing a mystery man, who turns out to be one of the investors she's supposed to impress, her world gets shaken.

Diana Ashby drew him. She always had. Her confidence. Her fearlessness. From the moment they’d met.

Aidan's plan to marry an aristocratic, while mercenary, did work as a ploy to achieve what he wanted. For having two friends of that world, a duke and and a marquess, I thought the story thread oddly underutilized them. It is set-up so that Diana, who is not nobility but has friends of that world, gets into a deal with him to try and set him up, while his side of the bargain is to get more investors for her. It worked but was also all a little coerced. There's a second thread underlying the romance one with Aidan searching for information about his birth mother and the sister he hopes escaped an orphanage fire. I thought this was rife for some great emotion but it was pushed to the side too much for me. Even when Aidan gets the answers he was searching for, the reveal fell a bit flat as character relationships in this thread weren't explored and Diana wasn't a huge part of this thread for Aidan to share with her. I did believe in why he fell in love with Diana but again, the emotional moments where he is choosing her over his ambition, fell a bit flat.

Every moment that they shared, every detail they revealed, made her want more.

I also would have liked a bit more of Diana's family relationships explored, especially with her mother or maybe a flashback or two with her father. Her father seemed to be like an absent minded professor, except with inventing. Part of her wanting to succeed was to show her father's pursuits weren't all a waste of time. We get a pretty good feel for her relationship with her twin brother, a seemingly wastrel but sticks up for Diana but her relationship with her mother was fairly blank. We know, because of their money issues, her mother is pressuring her to get married but the mother doesn't really appear on the pages and I missed feeling that aspect of Diana's life. While I believed in why Aidan feel in love with Diana, I didn't believe in it as strongly from Diana's side. He treats her well, the biggest being he embraces her inventor side, and she finds him attractive but I just didn't get see or get a handle on Diana developing feelings for him.

“I remember our deal, Diana.” He slid his hand from hers slowly and there was such disappointment in his gaze that her breath tangled in her throat. Moving past her, he strode toward the room across the hall, but midway he stopped and glanced at her over his shoulder. “Perhaps I’m just not content with the terms anymore.”

As I mentioned, Diana and Aidan's deal, he introduces her to investors to push her vacuum prototype and she introduces him to ladies of the nobility to find a wife and if she doesn't succeed in finding him a wife she must marry him at the end of the month, was a pretty coerced story plot. At the end, there is some angst where I didn't understand at all Diana's reluctance or refusals, that made it feel even more forced. Everyone is likeable and the story is nice but not a lot new here and all pretty sedate. If looking for a quieter, tried and true formula romance, this would be a nice pick. I'll be looking forward to the third in the series coming up where Aidan's roguish marquess friend will be finding love.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,738 reviews709 followers
April 4, 2019
I had read the first book in this series and was eager to get to this one.

I loved Diana and Aiden. They’re both so smart and looking to belong in their own way. I loved that she was an inventor and that he built himself a living. They had excellent conversation and the though their relationship evolved in a short amount of time, it felt organic.

Plot wise, I just wanted more of them together. The thread about Aiden’s family fueled most of this story and I wasn’t really into that; however, I loved seeing the matchmaking attempts.

Overall, this was a quick read with characters who were easy to root for. I’m hoping the next book is going to be Dominic’s

**Huge thanks to Avon Books for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Barbara Rogers.
1,556 reviews160 followers
April 16, 2019
Series: Duke’s Den #2
Publication Date: 4/30/19
Number of Pages: 368

You will fall instantly in love with Aidan who is a one-third partner in the Duke’s Den. He doesn’t know all of his past, but what he does know about it is poverty, the workhouse, hunger, cold, loneliness, and sorrow. Now, he is as rich as Croesus, he is very successful in business and investing, but he doesn’t have the acceptance he desires in society. He is searching for information on his mother who dropped him and his sister off at a workhouse, then just disappeared and he is also desperately wanting to be on the planning committee for Prince Albert’s grand industrial exhibition. So far, he’s had no success, the aristocracy just doesn’t take him seriously – if they acknowledge him at all. So, to gain the influence he wants, he needs to marry into the aristocracy – the higher the level the better.

Aidan and Miss Diana Ashby had an encounter a year earlier when she saved him from two cutpurses who were out to rob him – and worse. They were immediately attracted to each other, but they left the encounter without introducing themselves and with no expectations they’d ever meet again. Neither of them ever forgot the other and often thought of each other.

Diana was raised to be a proper lady, she learned all of the rules at Bexley Finishing School. She may know all of the rules, but she’s not interested in balls, soirees, strolling the park at the fashionable hour or marriage. What she is interested in is her inventions. Her father was an inventor – not a very successful one, but an inventor none-the-less. The difference between her inventions and her fathers is that hers are practical and useful. With the family coffers near empty, her mother has given her until the end of the month to find an investor for her inventions. Otherwise, she’ll have to enter the marriage mart.

Diana applied to the owners of the Duke’s Den seeking their investment in her invention (what sounds like a vacuum cleaner), but there was an accident just before she went in for her interview and she couldn’t demonstrate. She tells Aidan that it was his fault and that if he’d like to see it work, he can come to her workshop.

A deal is struck. Diana will help Aidan find an aristocratic wife and Aidan will invest in Diana’s invention. It doesn’t take Aidan long to regret that bargain because the woman he really wants is busy introducing him to other prospective brides. He has to manage to convince her that she wants him as much as he wants her.

It is a lovely romance between two people who don’t think they need love. They are perfect for each other. They are both driven and intense and they just complete each other. It is really a lovely romance.

I met some really lovely people in this book and I’d love to know what happens in their lives. I assume this is a trilogy – one book for each of the owners of the Duke’s Den – but after meeting these intriguing people, I’d like to learn more about them. There are Diana’s friends, Lady Sophronia Bales, Miss Grace Grinstead, and Lady Elizabeth Thorndyke as well as Diana’s brother Dominick who deserve their own stories. Maybe they’ll get their own stories or we’ll learn more in the series wrap-up.

I definitely recommend this lovely romance.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Teresa (Reads_Romance).
292 reviews293 followers
May 2, 2019
This was my first Christy Carlyle novel and I have to be honest, I was completely pulled in by the stunning cover and fun synopsis. Diana, our heroine, is an impoverished inventor looking to save her family by acquiring an investor for one of her creations. Aidan is a self-made man and investor (there was a Shark Tank-like scene in this book and I was here for it) attempting to get into the upper echelon of British society by marrying a debutante with connections. Aidan and Diana decide to help each other out, he finds her a buyer for her product, and she introduces him to ladies with whom he may suit. The story sounds charming right? It had so much potential, and I wish I enjoyed it more.

What I liked: I liked that Aidan wasn’t a rogue or rake, he was just a guy with a lot of money looking for his family; Diana really throws him for a loop. I also enjoyed how accepting he was of his love for her. He didn’t fight it and just let himself fall, which was refreshing.

What I didn’t like: Unfortunately this is quite a long list. First off, I thought the mystery of Aidan’s family was too secondary to the main plot. It had basically nothing to do with Diana or their relationship, or even the overall plot. You can skip every single part of the mystery and the book would still make sense. It felt like filler and a way to make Aidan a little more interesting because, to be honest, while I liked him in general, Aidan was pretty two dimensional.

Second off, I enjoyed Diana’s determination and ambition, but I did not enjoy her lack of emotional depth. Honestly, I have no idea how Aidan even fell in love with her because she gave him nothing back except a little bit of snark and mostly indifference. I thought about how I would feel if Diana was the hero and acted the way she did, and I was still mad. I didn’t connect with her character at all, she wasn’t even very warm with her friends. The only time I saw a hint of personality is when she interacted with her twin and that’s because he was the comedic relief in this book.

Lastly, while this was a quick read once I got into it, nothing about this plot or these characters struck my emotions. I really wanted to care about them, but I felt like I never got under the surface with any of them except Aiden, but even his romantic thoughts felt forced. Even the angst at the end seemed just thrown in there and was resolved within a chapter. Oh, and I forgot to mention how the mystery was solved (fizzled out), mostly because the mystery was so forgettable.

Overall, I am going to chalk this one up to just not working for me. This story had good bones but was thin on emotional depth or conflict. I am sure many people will enjoy strong Diana and her loving Aiden, I was just not one of them.

**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**

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Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,986 reviews868 followers
May 26, 2020
This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance

Anything But A Duke is the second book in the "Duke's Den" trilogy and somehow I missed this book when it was released over a year ago especially when I adored the first book. I have to say that Christy Carlyle is an author I am warming up to. I won't say that this was a page turner in any means (personally I have had a struggle with historical's lately, not sure why) but I did find this one enjoyable in many ways. So what is this book about here? Well it actually has a nice twist here, the hero is NOT a duke (finally, I swear sometimes I get sick of all the dukes) but he is a man of wealth and success and our heroine is a STEM.

Anything But A Duke is a story that features self made man Aiden and is part of the trio that run the "Duke's Den" and for the first time ever they have allowed women into the club. Aiden and his comrades are big supporters of growths of science and technology. So they invest to a handful of inventors....and the one inventor that has Aiden intrigued is a woman...a female inventor who is determined to make her way. She is avoiding marriage like the plague and the last thing she wants to do is put herself on the marriage mart. But she has this one last chance to sell her invention which could help countless households make cleaning easier. So Aiden strikes a deal with her, he is looking for a wife and if she leads him to the right connection among the Ton....then he will work with her on getting sponsorship. But soon their arrangement turns into something deeper neither of them expected to find.

Anything But A Duke was a story I was NOT expecting. I always get a kick out a STEM character whether its a hero or heroine. And this was such a unique one with a female inventor. That was quite different. I don't think I have read hardly any inventors in romance so whenever it happens I always get a kick out of it. This was quite interesting. I was worried about the heroine, that she would be too feminist. But she really didn't come off that way to be honest. She felt so real and had a desire to help others and explore her dreams. She isn't fully against marriage either, she just have other dreams that she doesn't know how it would play out. But I love seeing Aiden and Diana together. They have such sweet chemistry together and make such a great pair. And you can see how much they support each other and love the balance they find in one another.

Overall I found Anything But A Duke to be a startling, refreshing read that is empowering in many small but big ways.

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Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
965 reviews1,249 followers
April 23, 2019

Title: Anything But a Duke
Series: Duke's Den #2
Author: Christy Carlyle
Release date: April 30, 2019
Cliffhanger: No
Genre: historical romance

After reading and loving A Duke Changes Everything, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the second book in the series. The Duke's Den series revolves around three friends who own a gambling club that the nobility and the lower class both frequent. Aidan is one third owner, and it was with his sharp instincts in investments as well as skill in profiting at gambling that gave them the financial means to build their empire. At the club they are respected and sometimes feared, but there's one aspect in his business ventures that Aidan can't seem to breach and conquer. His humble beginnings and lack of "breeding" is a handicap that only marriage to a noblewoman will solve.

There would always be a disparity. No matter how much money he earned. No matter how many devices he funded. No matter how many London men of business spoke his name with a mix of fear and reverence.

After getting denied permission to participate in an industrial exhibition that he's set his heart on, he vows to obtain a fiancé that will give him a golden ticket into whatever door he knocks on. So why is it that he can't seem to stop thinking about a woman who is wrong for him in every logical way? A woman he's struck a bargain with to find him a willing bride in exchange for investing in her invention?

Diana Ashby is an unconventional woman of the time. She spends all of her time in her lab with her inventions, and hasn't the slightest interest in the marriage mart. Not even when finding a rich husband could drag their family out of poverty where her father left them. She's convinced that she will succeed in selling one of her ideas, if only her mother will give her the time to make it happen. Aidan is her last chance to make a success of herself before she's forced to give up her dreams and passion for creating. Diana is a woman who leads with her head, not her heart. She's not one for silly day dreams of happily ever after, or allowing herself to be guided by impulses of the moment.

“Poets tell of love. Novelists write characters who fall far too readily. But I don’t have time for reading poetry or novels.” Diana smiled, but didn’t meet her friend’s gaze. “I prefer to make decisions based on what’s rational. On what I can see and touch and calculate.”

She was also stubborn to a fault and single minded in her pursuit of personal goals. In that way she was much like Aidan. Their deal should have given both of them everything they could have ever wanted. But as she introduces him to a few of her friends she becomes increasingly uncomfortable thinking about him finding a match in another woman. For once in her life she's beginning to feel driven by emotion and wanted in a way that she's never experienced before. Seen and appreciated for who she truly is rather than an eccentric who doesn't fit into the mold that society wants to put her in. Aidan too, is struggling with accepting his attraction for someone who wants nothing to do with marriage. Once he accepts the reality of his altered feelings, the challenge of winning Diana is his new end game. And nothing will stand in his way.

All he truly wanted was to find a way to have her in his life every day and his bed every night. His ambition, his hunger for success—none of that was a shadow of how much he wanted Diana.

There is also a subplot that ties into the overall conflict. Aidan is desperate to find news of his mother and sister. To finally find out what happened to them when he lost contact with them as a child. The need to know if they are all right, to learn his father's identity and put the mysteries of the past at rest is overwhelming.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but I found it to be a little slow in the first third of the story. I struggled to get completely invested in the couple's romance which was a pretty slow burn, and didn't feel the same excitement I did for the first couple. But in general, I thought it was a good story. Aidan's pursuit of her in the end was wonderful to see. She had a hard time relinquishing the idea of what she thought they both needed so he had his work cut out for him in changing her mind.

Though this wasn't a smash hit for me like the previous book, there was still plenty to enjoy. Fans of a light historical romance with strong, unconventional heroines will find what they're looking for here. It is not necessary to read book one, as these are all easily read as standalones. I encourage you to give it a shot.



Profile Image for Candace.
895 reviews
June 30, 2019
Diana Ashby is an inventor, and the daughter of an inventor. ". . . just because she couldn't study at university like her brother and never be asked to speak at the Royal Society as her father had, that didn't mean her inventions weren't worth while."

Aiden Iverson is a self-made man, who is one-third owner of the Lyon's Gentlemen's Club, a gambling club. "Every penny and pound he possessed, he'd earned. On his own. He'd never taken a loan. He didn't incur debts. He had business partners, but he never curried favor. Fair transactions. An equal give and take. That's how he lived his life."

Aiden is following a lead on his mother when he is attacked by two robbers. Diana runs screaming, welding an umbrella, toward Aiden's attackers. They sneer and dismiss her as they leave. Aiden rises from the ground, dizzy, holding on to Diana. She wipes the blood off of his face. They share a kiss. They don't know each other or each other's names. Aiden watches protectively as Diana walks to the garden entrance of the Woodsons' house. When she turns around to find Aiden, he is gone.

The romance of Diana and Aiden is filled with angst. These two characters are made for each other; one is stubborn and the other is tenacious. While one changes as love reshapes his life choices, the other is afraid to feel emotions and the possible loss of her independence. The plot flows steadily. The subplot weaves effortlessly through the plot. This is a nice, easy read to escape into on a relaxing day.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,434 reviews294 followers
June 30, 2019
Iverson is a selfmade man, known for taking chances and making money. But he is a commoner and some doors are closed. So he needs a noble lady to wed.

I did like him, ok so yes he is marrying for status, but the woman he would marry would probably only marry him for money. A match made in the ton. And all he does it for new inventions and the greater good.

There is also a tiny subplot where he tries to find out what happened to his mother and who she was.

Then there is Diana, an inventor, who visits Shark Tank, I mean The Duke's den. What is there not to like, she wanted to invent things, she loved science.

She will help him find a wife, he will help her invention.

And they fall in love, scratch that, he starts to feel things, she takes longer. I also liked that the plot really was about them getting closer and starting to fall. No unnecessary drama.

Enjoyable, and I hope the last friend finds love one day then too.

I liked her voice. She fit really well for historical romance. She did different voices well, and I really got the feel of the time from her
Profile Image for Douglas Meeks.
870 reviews232 followers
April 1, 2019
Well this series seems to be following a theme of strong women with men who might need a bit of calibration of their moral compass, once again we have Diana who is an inventor and brilliant in a world where women of intelligence are not really that respected.

Enter our roguish hero Aidan Iverson is partners in a gambling establishment that those of us who read the first book in the series A Duke Changes Everything will recognize. It is a good setting for men who walk a fine line between legal and illegal pursuits but obviously it is going to take a strong woman to get them to the altar, much less a bit more morality in their lives.

The angle here is that he wants to marry a woman with a title to give him a feeling of legitimacy for his accomplishments and she just wants him to help her gain some respect for her work and inventions. Needless to say things would be very boring if we stuck to that story LOL.

The interplay was good, the romance was exceptionally constrained (which means it was much more realistic than all those bodice rippers) which I love since I read so many novels that add pages to their books by just turning them into something just short of literary porn (and a few that don't bother to stop just short).

This is not up to the level of some of my more favorite authors in this genre like Tessa Dare or Julie Anne Long but it is a good story told very well and I will be getting the next (last?) one in this series when it comes out. So 4 Stars it is ...
Profile Image for Lisarenee.
763 reviews112 followers
May 1, 2019
>>>>>My Synopsis (Review follows):<<<<<
"Spinster. Alone. Aberration" Those were all words polite society had for Diana Ashby. Diana "felt an ever-present hunger. An ambition that she knew most thought improper for a lady. Yet it was a compulsion she couldn't deny. Her ideas were good and she longed to prove herself to those who would scoff at a woman inventor."

While Diana's family allowed her tinkering, they weren't exactly supportive of her pastime. "A waste of time. It's what her mother called all the hours she spent in her workshop rather that attending to the social calendar. But just because she couldn't study at university like her brother and would never be asked to speak at the Royal Society as her father had, that didn't mean her inventions weren't worthwhile." She was determined she and her inventions would make a difference.

Then one day while she was on her way to a scientific lecture Diana came across a man being attacked by footpads. Not one to cower at such a situation, as most women in her position would, she charged the robbers and frightened the men away possibly saving the man's life. Little did she know he'd one day change her life.

Aidan Iverson may not be part of the ton, but he managed to put his stamp on London society. "The highest of London society knew his name, even if they didn't accept him into their circles. His wealth and instinct for profitable investments had earned him infamy. (...) Every penny and pound he possessed, he'd earned. On his own. He'd never taken a loan. He didn't Incur debts. He had business partners, but he never curried favored. Fair transactions. An equal give and take. That's how he lived his life."

That's why when a woman, whose name he didn't know, had saved him it ate at him. He owed this woman a debt and that did not sit well with him. Even more disturbing was the fact he'd found her fascinating, beguiling, and attractive all at once which was probably why he hadn't had the sense to get her name. In the year since their chance encounter he'd thought about her often, but their paths had never crossed until now...

'Forgive me, miss. I didn't intend--"

"I know!" Diana drew in a shaky breath to keep from barking some more. Her nerves were frayed, and she still hadn't found her notes. "I think it will be all right."

When he stood, the man cast a long shadow, blotting out the light from the colored-glass dome overhead. Diana tipped her head to get a look at him.

Heat flooded her cheeks as she stared.

The stranger. (...)

"You," he said wonderingly.'

>>>>>My Review<<<<<
This was the second book in the Duke's Den series and it can definitely be read as a standalone. Be aware, however, if the first book is as appealing as this one was you're definitely going to want to get your hands on a copy of it. I was utterly taken in by this one.

Diana is exactly the type of heroine I adore. She's smart, determined, and a woman ahead of her time. I loved the fact that she was an inventor and was trying to live life on her own terms, even if she was on the verge of giving in to her mother's desire for her to settle down and marry. I liked how when most women of her time would be meek, she speaks her mind and tells it like it is. I also enjoyed the reactions she provoked in others and the way Aidan dealt with her. He had a hard time saying no to her.

Aidan was perhaps too good to be true, but I loved him nonetheless. He's smart, good looking, loyal and honest. Given his background, being abandoned at a workhouse as a child, it's surprising he turned out so well. Perhaps that is why he isn't a stickler for society's dictates. I was rather charmed by how when most men were appalled and put off by the way Diana conveyed herself he was fascinated and intrigued. She wasn't someone whom he'd become easily bored with as she surprised him at every turn. Add in the fact he seemed the perfect match for her, and I could do nothing less than love this story.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It left me smiling for days. The characters were engaging. the story was unique, and the romance was swoon worthy and fun. I loved Diana's family and the Shark Tank setup the author incorporated into the novel. I also loved how these two met and slowly fell in love. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I now need to get a copy of 'A Duke Changes Everything,' the first book in the Duke's Den series.

Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. It in no way affected my review. In fact, I bought a copy. :)
1,357 reviews33 followers
May 8, 2019
Aidan Iverson had met Miss Diana Ashby a year ago when she had saved his hide. He hadn't known then who she was, but it took only a moment to recognise the lady who is asking for investors for her invention. Diana is passionate about her work, she wants to succeed, and her family desperately needs the money. Her mother doesn't quite approve, and she agreed to Diana's endeavour on one condition: if Diana fails to secure backers, she will need to marry a wealthy man. Aidan is a businessman, and coming from nothing, he will never have enough money, but two things matter more to him: find his mother and sister, and hopefully know who his father was. He also needs to establish himself in Society if he is to have access to places that, in spite of his wealth, remain closed to him. Diana, while a commoner, has aristocratic friends who need rich husbands. So Aidan and Diana shake on it. If only they could forget about that one impulsive kiss...

In ANYTHING BUT A DUKE, Christy Carlyle displays all the qualities that have made her a favourite author of mine. Unlike Huntley, I can't say that Aidan had made such a strong impression on me in the first installment of The Duke's Den, but Ms. Carlyle certainly rose to the occasion to present us with a wonderful hero. Although he does have a temper, Aidan is well-mannered, kind, and most appreciative of Diana's talents. I love that the romance was unhurried, and evolved organically, respecting the constraints of the Victorian era. There is no lack of chemistry between Aidan and Diana, but it resides in meaningful looks, straightforward exchanges, light touches; everything that I find truly romantic. Aidan and Diana also enjoy a first class supporting cast: Diana's rogue of a brother, Dominick (I loved him!); her friends Grace, and Ladies Elizabeth and Sophronia; and let's not forget the irresistible Huntley! I loved Diana's persistence; she is determined to succeed, but not pushy or unduly reckless. And Aidan was enchanting; he is everything I look for in a hero; he surprised me in the best way. I also loved how his search for his family was handled; it was present but did not overshadow the romance.

ANYTHING BUT A DUKE is a superbly well balanced story, evenly paced, and chock full of pertinent and entertaining historical details. The writing flows effortlessly as the author lets the characters act and speak for themselves. The first sex scene, I'm afraid, brought my rating down a little bit. It's beautifully done, but I felt Aidan and especially Diana behaved somewhat out of character. We know how it will end, but at that point, they didn't. There was also an issue with one of Diana's friends that was left dangling, or I maybe I missed something...As much as I nearly swoon every time I look at the spectacular cover by the inimitable Jon Paul Ferrara, you can safely judge this book by its cover, because I feel it represents perfectly the tone of the book, and reflects the beautiful romance within.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I give 4 1/2 stars.
Profile Image for Tracy Emro.
1,834 reviews48 followers
April 25, 2019
4.5 stars rounded up.

Diana Ashby is an inventor who has earned the distinction of being the first woman ever invited to present her invention to the "Duke's Den" for investment consideration. She is nervous and her model is damaged when she collides with Aidan Iverson - the very man she saved in an alleyway last year and has been unable to forget. She composes herself and gives her presentation for her invention - a cleaning device, but none of the men will commit to funding her project. She returns home and is greeted by her school friends who are planning a reunion and insist she attend. After they leave she is confronted by her mother. Her mother tells her it is time to stop tinkering and to find a husband. She begs for one more month to sell her cleaning device and if she fails, promises to dedicate herself to finding a match. She hatches a plan and writes to Aidan.

Aidan Iverson is a rich man with humble beginnings, beginnings he has spent lots of time and money trying to uncover, unsuccessfully. He longs for acceptance and thinks that marrying a noblewoman will provide him with the connections that even his enormous wealth can't buy. But his attempts to find a bride on his own have failed. So when he gets Diana's letter, he gets an idea. Aidan has never forgotten Diana or the kiss they shared that night. He was delighted to see her and finally learn who she was and is eager to meet with her.

They strike a deal, she will help him find a well-connected bride and he will fund her invention and find a buyer for it. If she fails to find him a bride, she must agree to marry him herself. She agrees, but says she not noble enough for him and can't provide the connections he so desperately wants.

What follows is a delightful story, with wonderful characters, moments of heartache, incredibly amusing interchanges and steamy love scenes. I loved the development of Aidan and Diana's relationship, the sacrifices that they were both willing to make to give the other their dreams and the moment when they realize that being together is their true heart's desire - Sigh... The book is well written, perfectly paced and easy to read. It is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand alone title with no problem. I am happy to recommend this book and am looking forward to Huntley's story!!

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC provided to my by Edelweiss and the Publisher*
Profile Image for Elodie’s Reading Corner.
2,527 reviews123 followers
August 8, 2019
This was my first read by Mrs Christy Carlyle, I confess I passed on it because there were too many releases on its release day but then I read the blurb, and I’m a sucker for the scholar/geek trope.
Plus, for once it was about a commoner and not a duke!
I quite liked this read, it was different from the last historical romances I had read so far, and not set on the regency period even if to me I didn’t see real changes but I’m no history professor.
I loved Aiden Iverson, he raised himself from the gutter and has become a better man, he now thinks he only needs acceptance from the ton society but his commoner origins look like a barrier to achieve this goal.
Diana Ashby is a kind of Gyro Gearloose, but unlike her father, she aims to create useful devices, and proves she was right to persist on this road.
From the very beginning they have an instant attraction, but they thought their life purposes put them apart while in fact they only bring them closer. The more they spend time together, the more they click together. It was soon evident that the deal they made had a different meaning from both side. Quickly Aiden realizes he finds everything he was looking for in a wife, except his ultimate request, a link to the nobility while Diana knows Aiden is a rare man but she fears she is devoid of the precious connection he is looking for.
There was no angst nor bad guy, just a tale of how two persons have to rethink what they were expecting and aiming because one person is turning their world upside down, and by doing so, they must decide which cost they are ready to pay or not.
They were surrounded by many nice characters, some I am curious to learn more, like Diana’s brother or some of her friends.
Will there be more than three books in this series?
Profile Image for Natasha .
556 reviews57 followers
May 24, 2021
I really enjoyed Diana and Aidan's story! Diana is headstrong and determined to secure a patent fir her invention. While she promised to find Aidan a noble woman, in exchange for his investment, she ends up falling for him.
Profile Image for Książkowa Cisza.
126 reviews6 followers
May 7, 2023
"Nic w ich spotkaniu nie miało sensu. A jednak, kiedy tak stała i rozmawiała z człowiekiem, którego kompletnie nie znała, czuła się jakoś dziwnie na właściwym miejscu."


Ta książka pozytywnie mnie zaskoczyła.

Została napisana ładnie, lecz jednocześnie nieprzesadnie. Opisy są raczej wartościowe dla myśli niżeli męczące, zachęcające jedynie do ziewania.

Wątek romantyczny rozwija się powoli, nawet jeśli bohaterowie wyraźnie są w sobie zauroczeni. Ma to swój urok, jak nieudolnie próbują odgonić od siebie myśli.

Rodzina Aidena oraz jej poszukiwania także okazały się niezwykle ciekawe, nawet jeśli nie były one na pierwszym planie. Może zakończenie tego wątku nie było najbardziej satysfakcjonujące, lecz rozumiem, dlaczego autorka zdecydowała się akurat na to.

Zakończenie mi się podobało. Nie było bardzo rozbudowane, lecz pasowało to do tej historii.
Profile Image for Niki (mustreadalltheromance).
1,168 reviews87 followers
February 13, 2021
Although self-made man Aidan Iverson has attained wealth and gained power, especially through his partial ownership in Lyon's Gentleman's Club, his uncertain birth and clear lack of title leave him barred from certain circles. Regardless of his business acumen, his inferior birth means that no matter what he could potentially contribute to society, he remains on the outskirts of polite society. Aidan pulled himself up from the workhouse where his mother left him and he won't accept loans or incur debts from anyone. He wants to make it on his own terms but now it seems the best way to ingratiate himself in society is to marry an eligible highborn lady.

Well-educated granddaughter of a wealthy baronet, Miss Diana Ashby is everything a proper lady should be, apart from her scientific and decidedly unladylike interest in inventing. She has no desire to marry, at least not yet, and only wants to be left alone with her work.

As a partner in the Duke's Den, Aidan receives many applications from hopeful inventors in search of funding and when Diana appears to present her invention, the two wind up with a different sort of deal: Aidan will help her find investors and she'll help him find a noble wife. If she fails, at the end of one month's time she will marry Aidan herself. As the two spend more time together in collaboration, Aidan realizes that Diana is all he's wanted all along but convincing her that she means more to him than his ambitions may prove impossible.

Aidan views marriage as a very logical business transaction but he truly longs for a family and for answers about his origins. Diana wants to make up for her father's mistakes by creating an invention that will help her family's dwindling finances; she has no time for fanciful notions of love. She began to get on my nerves a bit toward the end but I loved Aidan and I couldn't put this book down. It was a great read.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Blog link: https://mustreadalltheromance.blogspo...
Profile Image for Joana V..
349 reviews71 followers
April 23, 2019
I received an eARC at no cost from the author, in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. Thank you.

Review originally posted at Romancing Romances


I love books with self-made heroes/heroines. And this book has both!

It was interesting to see how Diana worked hard to not lose focus, and to present her work in the best way.

I really like the kind of story that is about “deals” to find a husband/wife for the opposite character. And this is that kind of book.

It’s always amusing to see them trying to find someone for each other, but thinking/acting like they could never be the one for each other. And when they realize they are a match, and that any obstacles that might come their way can be dealt with, as long as they are together, then the story unfolds and we have our happy ending.

Aidan tries to help Diana with her inventions, and she tries to help him get the right bride. Of course, his definition of “the right bride” changes throughout the book, as he finds himself more and more in love with the woman that rescued him – literally.

This was the first book I’ve read written by this author, and it was a pleasant surprise. I shall be reading more for sure.
Profile Image for Marlene.
2,947 reviews205 followers
May 19, 2019
Originally published at Reading Reality

I picked up Anything But a Duke because I absolutely adored the first book in the Duke’s Den series, A Duke Changes Everything. So naturally I wanted to see what happened next to the Duke’s Den gambling den and investors’ club.

While the two things that go on in the Duke’s Den may seem like opposites, they also aren’t. Because the three owners of the Duke’s Den, Nicholas Lyon (hero of A Duke Changes Everything), Aiden Iverson (the hero of our current tale) and Rhys Forrester (presumably the hero of the next book) invest in inventions. Often very large inventions on a grand scale, but not always. But whether those inventions will succeed or fail is really just gambling under a different name – and a slightly more respectable one at that.

Think of the Duke’s Den as a historical version of Shark Tank. The rules seem to be very similar – but without the posturing for TV cameras. (And OMG the original international version of Shark Tank is called Dragons’ Den!)

Diana Ashby has come to the Duke’s Den, just as inventors come to Shark Tank, to convince them to invest in her household, housewide, vacuuming system. It’s ingenious in its way, a system that once installed in an establishment, will vacuum every room with merely the priming of a suction pump.

While Diana is unable to immediately convince the members to invest in her device, she IS able to get a stay of execution on their refusal – because Aiden Iverson clumsily broke her model. And because once upon a time, not so very long ago, she saved his life.

There’s a spark that runs hot between them, so in a bit of self-deception they decide to use each other – as an excuse to remain in each other’s company just a bit longer.

Diana needs funding for her inventions. She’s under a deadline from her mother to either get funding within a month or finally throw herself into the “marriage mart”. Fully aware that marriage will probably make her miserable. Not that she might not want to get married and have a household and family of her own, but that under the current laws any husband can and probably will force her to stop inventing – and she needs to invent rather as much as she needs to breathe – possibly more.

Iverson needs to marry into the aristocracy. He has plenty of money, but his origins, both that they are common and that they are secret, keep him from the highest strata of society. And it’s that strata that controls memberships and inclusion into the areas that he needs to be in to bring the inventions he funds to their fullest potential.

They make a bargain. Diana will find Iverson an aristocratic wife, and he will fund her vacuum invention and help her find a buyer.

But no woman can live up to the fire in Diana, and no invention – no matter how successful – can make Diana feel as alive as Iverson does.

The question is whether they can step back from what they both said they wanted to what they truly need – each other.

Escape Rating B+: Anything But a Duke is a whole lot of fun. I’ll confess it’s not quite as much fun as A Duke Changes Everything (which was pretty amazeballs), but it is a terrific historical romance and I enjoyed every minute of it!

One of the things that I really liked about Anything But a Duke is that the characters, while part of the upper classes (that’s a whole ‘nother topic we won’t get into here) were neither of them actually titled members of the aristocracy.

Rather they were both upper-middle class, and both had mixed feelings and reactions about that situation. Diana feels stuck because she really wants to work on her inventions, but is being forced to submit to being “a lady” with all of the restrictions that are involved.

Meanwhile her brother is out drinking and gambling and wasting money that the family cannot publicly admit they don’t have. Diana’s mother needs her to make an “good” marriage to save the family from penury. (I have thoughts about her brother – and they are not complimentary thoughts in the slightest – but this isn’t his story.)

Iverson, on the other hand, is a self-made man. His mother abandoned both him and his sister to the workhouse. He’s not even sure that “Iverson” is his true name and has absolutely no idea who his father was. His lack of pedigree keeps him from getting into places that he needs to get into to further the inventions he invests in. He’s willing to make an arranged marriage, offering his money to save some aristocratic family’s position in order to get the entree into society he requires.

Diana and Iverson really do belong together. It’s obvious to the reader – in a very good way – and seems to be obvious to everyone except the two of them for the longest time. The way that the tension builds between them is delicious – even more so because it isn’t fake in any way but is inherent in the situation in which they have placed themselves.

And Diana is a wonderful character for 21st Century readers to identify with! I’m not sure her position is historically accurate, but it feels plausible enough to work – and work well.

One final note, there have been a rash of historical romances where the hero unexpectedly becomes a duke, with mixed results. Based on the title, I expected that to happen here, and I was so happy when it didn’t. Part of what makes Iverson so interesting is that he isn’t part of the nobility. I really liked seeing a hero and heroine who are not, were not and do not become aristocrats. It’s a refreshing change and I hope to see more of it!
Profile Image for Cyndi Becker.
1,361 reviews9 followers
May 1, 2019
After having experienced some initial disconnect with the characters, I found I enjoyed this Historical romance. Set in the 1840's, London is experiencing transformation, high society is a bit in flux, and our characters Aidan Iverson and Diana Ashby are a part of it.

Aidan's and Diana have a sort of second chance to get to know each other after a brief encounter a year earlier. When they meet again, the situation is a unique one, it's a sort of modern shark tank situation with Aidan as a potential investor and Diana an inventor. He's fascinated by her experimental nature and the two strike up an odd agreement and find their lives more entangled.

While Diana attempts to stymie her attraction to Aidan, she sets about to help him find a marriageable noblewoman. See, Aidan is searching for a bride, one of the "'ton" even though he's successful businessman, he suffers from a lack of self-worth that comes from his upbringing and he needs this aristocratic connection to feel validated.

I enjoyed the friendship they developed and with the attraction between them admittedly mutual and growing, it's easy to see them as a pair - made for each other. Even as she comes to recognize what she feels for Aidan is something much more, Diana is stubborn. While the drama isn't necessarily high, there's enough to make for the angst I crave.

All in all I am happy to have read my first Christy Carlyle book and look forward to enjoying more books in her library. 4 Stars!

*I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
700 reviews2 followers
April 10, 2019
Lighthearted Victorian romance that was an enjoyable read, with a inventor heroine.

Diana is a very unusual woman, from the minor gentry, she doesn’t want to marry, she wants to restore her family’s fortunes by making money through her inventions.

Inspired by her late father’s talents, she wants to succeed where he had failed, He ran through the family ones pursuing useless ideas.

She literally bumps into Aiden, and helps to rescue him from a couple of Footpads.

Aiden is an orphaned boy who escaped from a workhouse as a child, who has become a self made man and jointly owns a gambling club with two lords, he also invests in good ideas, like dragons den.

When Diana turns up to promote her cleaning machine to his group of investors, they begin to spend time together. They make a deal, he will find her an investor, and she will help him look for an aristocratic wife.

As they spend time together, will they give in to their attraction, and change their life plans.

Aiden is a lovely heroe, who supports Diana completely, he also is not afraid to change his plans for love.

Diana a little less self aware, but still a decent heroine.

Liked it.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
April 5, 2020
3.5 stars!

I really liked the heroine and her tenacity to become successful with her vacuum prototype. I thought her character made this book stand out. Unfortunately, I can barely remember the hero (lmao).
Profile Image for Sissy's Romance Book Review .
8,168 reviews16 followers
May 4, 2019
Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle is Book Two in The Duke's Den Series. This is the story of Diana Ashby and Aidan Iverson. I have read the previous book (and Loved it) but feel you can make this a standalone book if you wish to do so.
Aidan had a harsh start to the world when he and his sister were just left at a work house. But he has gotten them out of that and now he is very rich man and is a part of the Duke's Den, but the one thing he can't break into is aristocratic Society. Diana knows all the ins and outs of being proper thanks to Bexley Finishing School but doesn't want that life nor a husband. Diana's father was a inventor who was very successful but she has taken up the practice. But she needs some backing to continue her work which leads her to the Duke's Den for help. There she sees Aidan who she helped save when he was being robbed/attacked. Neither exchanged names or anything but neither forgot the other. A deal is struck that Diana will help Aidan find the wife he needs to break into society if he will back her invention. But sometimes the most perfect deal has a way of changing...
Loved their story and this author!
Profile Image for Jessica Grogan.
470 reviews20 followers
May 3, 2019
Overall, I found this to be a good read and I loved Diana but I found a few things lacking.

As I said, I loved Diana. I love heroines that are more than just ladies waiting to get married. In fact, Diana was the opposite. She never wanted to get married. Ever. And I loved that she did more with her life than go to balls.

That being said, I felt like Aidan had very little personality. There was nothing really of interest about him for me except the mystery of where he came from. And that fell far short of expectations. It was wrapped up a little too easily/nicely. I found the rest of the plot with Diana’s invention to be of far greater interest and those were some of the best scenes to me.

I am enjoying this series and will definitely be reading the next title in it.

*I received an eARC from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Connie.
2,047 reviews62 followers
May 9, 2019
London - 1845

Diana Ashby is off to attend a scientific lecture presented by a past tutor she had. Her interest lies in being an inventor and she spends most of the day in her workshop. Her father had been the second son of a baronet which had afforded her a good education. However, the man had not managed the family funds well and now they are in need of money.

Diana’s twin brother, Dominick, tends to spend most of his time gambling and drinking himself into a stupor. While her mother has tried to be understanding of her desire to be an inventor, she now tells her that it is time that she marries a wealthy man.

Aiden Iverson is looking for what might have happened to his mother, or even who she was, before abandoning he and his sister at a workhouse. Today, Aiden is a very wealthy man because he worked hard and invested wisely. He is also the third owner of Lyon’s Gentleman’s Club. Yet even with all of his money, his lack of nobility ends up with doors shut in his face. Thus, his friends tell him he needs to wed a noble bride.

Lyon’s holds events that allows inventors to display their inventions and if Lyon’s is interested, they may offer investment money. When Diana shows a household vacuum system to them, she is furious when the unit is dropped and broken, thus not allowing her to demonstrate it. But she is very persistent and asks Aiden to visit her workshop so she can demonstrate it there. He is unsure if he wants to invest in it because he usually goes with much larger projects, such as bridges. So, when she learns from him that he needs to marry a titled lady, she promises to introduce him to her friends. If it results in marriage, he will then fund her invention.

Both Diana and Aiden are strong, intelligent, and hard-working, In addition, they are attracted to one another yet Diana feels that her situation does not fulfill what Aiden seeks. Is that true or are they both holding back?

I really enjoyed this story and found the plot to be a bit unusual, but very well crafted. I am sure that readers will like this book.

Copy provided by Edelweiss and Goodreads in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Gaele.
4,079 reviews80 followers
May 3, 2019
The second book in this series focuses on Aiden, friend to both Nick from A Duke Changes Everything and Rhys, who’s story is yet to be told. These three are rich and determined, if not always ‘palatable’ to the tastemakers in London society. As we learned from Nick’s story, it is more a matter of finding a woman who both intrigues and accepts them, with the ability to rein in their most ‘common’ impulses. And that, in itself makes for an interesting clash of wills between the two. But Aiden, a self-made man with a desire for an aristocratic match and all the trappings that entails. He’s got the riches, his partnership with Nick in the gambling clubs has brought that, but the ‘self-made man of business’ so revered in today’s world was seen by the aristo classes as nothing more than an up-jumped commoner: a merchant and useful only when and if he can be controlled by his desire to be ‘accepted’ into the lofty world of the tonne.

Diana Ashby is from the world Aiden so wants to be a part of, and as a ‘woman of marriageable age’ is the perfect target for his plans. Not being born to a title isn’t too much to ask, if one can marry into the family and thus gain the entrance into those hallowed levels. But she wants no part of marriage or even romance, she has more important things to do. Diana is an inventor, smart, clever, determined and utterly her own woman, unconcerned with the whims and wishes of society and the constraints with which they would bind her. But, perhaps there is a happy middle -she can help Aiden find the entrance to society, and a bride, and she can walk away unscathed and unmet by the altar. He will invest in her ideas: giving her some respectability and cache as an inventor of note, a goal her father never achieved. She agrees to help him and pushes his very distractibility and their obvious compatibility to the side to continue her work.

Oh this was fun – both Aiden and Diana are wonderful together and feel like the perfect match, even as she has no desire to be married. Moments when they are together sparkle, and the burn is there, even as both tend to ignore it as their eyes are on different goals. Much of the book is involving us with a family that Aiden never knew he had, and their struggles and needs push the conflicts and the connection with Diana further along. I do wish more of their relationship and times together in quiet moments were more frequent, but from the start the intrigue between the two, and their obvious match for one another in intelligence and determination is evident and clear. It’s going to take some doing (and plenty of thought) for their connection to come to fruition, but like all of Carlyle’s books, the read is a wonderful one and very entertaining. The usual angst, struggles and distractions appear, without huge swathes of heat and steamy moments on the page, but the underlying burn felt by them both is clearly present and encourages readers to cheer on this couple to a very happy, and quite fitting end.

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Review first appeared at I am, Indeed
Profile Image for Janet.
3,932 reviews35 followers
April 29, 2019
4.25 Stars
Aidan Iverson doesn’t know who his family is but he's a self made man, risen from the streets after running from the workhouse. He’s a part owner of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage. Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices.
Aidan & Diana first meet when he’s being attacked by two ruffians, she rushes to his aid brandishing her umbrella & screeching like a banshee, they steal a kiss before parting. Now several months later Aidan turns down the opportunity to invest in Diana’s invention. Diana agrees to be a matchmaker for Aidan.
I fell hook, line & sinker for Aidan he’s hardworking, honourable, driven & simply lovely. He’s desperate to find his family especially his sister Sarah who he left behind, as he wants to belong. Diana loves to be left alone in her workshop with her inventions. Both of them don’t particularly want to marry, however whenever they meet sparks fly & they complete each other. There’s no great dramas, no spies or kidnappings just a lovely romance of trust, sharing & completing each other
My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read
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