Pride and Prejudice meets Cinderella in the latest novel by New Jersey romance author Sophie Barnes, an e-book veteran making her print debut. The Trouble With Being a Duke (Avon) is set in 19th-century England and revolves around Isabella Chilcott, a seamstress from the shabby fictional town of Moxley, who is doomed to an arranged marriage with a dull and despotic businessman.
Seeking romance, Isabella slips into a gown she finds in her family’s attic and sneaks into the exclusive Kingsborough masquerade ball. Although masked, she attracts the attention of many distinguished men at the ball, including Anthony Hurst, a duke who is captivated by her sharp wit. Their enchanted evening is disrupted by a startling burst of violence and Isabella disappears in the chaos. As Hurst plunges into the search for the mystery beauty, Barnes unravels subplots of kidnapping and a deep, dark family secret, long hidden from Isabella.
Barnes, a resident of West Milford, is the latest author to move from e-books into print. Her first e-book, How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back, sold 20,000 copies and spent a month on Barnes & Noble’s Top 100 list. Four more successful ebooks followed.
As the first of a planned trilogy, The Trouble with Being a Duke leaves enough loose ends to warrant its sequel, The Scandal in Kissing an Heir, due next month. Meanwhile, there is plenty of intrigue in volume one, as Barnes guides Isabella and her Prince Charming down the bumpy road to an inevitable fairy-tale ending.