NOTHING LIKE A DUKE – Jane Ashford
The Duke's Sons Series , Book 4
Autumn in England, early 18th Century
On his way to a house party in Northumberland, Lord Robert Gresham, son of the Duke of Langford, has his journey delayed when his carriage breaks an axle. During the rainy wait to find transportation to his destination, he finds a small, abandoned, and starving puppy. He keeps it, giving the puppy the name Plato, and begins a conversation with this wise-looking dog which continues throughout the story. Robert is a ‘ pink of the ton ,' and his looks and manners make him sought for all ton events. Too bad his charm failed with the woman who interested him the most. Eventually he arrives at the manor of the Earl and Countess of Salbridge. Robert's friend Laurence, the eldest son of his hosts, is not present, but the young daughter, Lady Victoria, and the younger son Phillip, will help devise entertainments, some successful, some not. At the first evening gathering, where Robert's main plan is to forget one woman, she walks into the gathering. When he asks her what she is doing here, she says she was invited, to which he responds she couldn't have been.
At twenty-five and as a blue stocking, near on-the-shelf spinster, Flora Jennings doesn't have high expectations. She comes to the Salbridge's house party with her mentor, Harriet Runyon, a friend of the countess. Flora knows that the haut ton turn their backs on members who marry beneath their social expectations, like they did her mother. She has a low opinion of these elites. Still, she doesn't expect such a response from Robert. He had seemed warm, cordial, and interested in her when she helped him study her father's scholarly books on ancient cuneiform writing.
Robert and Flora's inauspicious meeting after a summer of studying together remains bumpy even as they both try to gain the other's interest. Others, often using under-handed methods, take great interest in Robert and try to deflect him from his determination to convince the very independent Flora they were meant for each other. One wants to marry Robert, another wants to harm Robert. The characters are interesting, and while references are made to events in previous volumes, readers will have no problem following the story line. It is a party and a romance filled with mayhem and merriment—a fun and romantic read.