If Bridgerton and Beauty and the Beast had a baby, you'd get "Birdie and the Beastly Duke". With a dose of Phantom of the Opera thrown in for good measure, this delightful Regency romance takes the reader on an adventure to a gothic castle in Scotland, where a governess named Birdie tempts fate by switching places with a young woman who wants to run away from her arranged marriage. Instead, Birdie marries the disfigured man she's never met- a crestfallen soldier who inherited a dukedom after returning from Waterloo, broken and reclusive.
I absolutely loved Birdie's boisterous attitude and determination to take matters into her own hands at every turn. Her duke, Gabriel, reminiscent of a pirate with his eye patch and outdated clothes, does his best to repel her, intending to establish her away from him in London while fulfilling his late father's wishes to provide for the daughter of his friend. But Birdie won't be driven away; she's determined to keep her wedding vows to love, honor, and obey the husband she willingly married, and to bring light and life back to the castle and the village. I found it heartwarming to witness Gabriel's healing through Birdie's presence and to see their love blossom under these conditions.
If you enjoy the Beauty and the Beast trope and marriage of convenience/arranged marriage romances, you'll definitely love Birdie and Gabriel's story.