WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED – Lorraine Heath
The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 1
London, England, 1874
The Duke of Graystone wants the best for his only daughter, so he is offering a huge dowry to go with her hand in marriage. The trouble is that Lady Grace wants a love match and only a love match; how will she know which if any of her many suitors really wants her for herself or for her fortune? Grace grew up with two brothers and is a rather unconventional young lady. All during childhood, she was able to keep up with them and their friend, who is now the Duke of Lovingdon. As a very young man, Lovingdon fell deeply in love and married his beloved Juliette, but after a short while, he lost her and their daughter to a fever. Since then, his grief has caused him to withdraw from polite society and live the life of a care for nothing rake. Who better than this old friend whom Grace trusts implicitly to tutor her in the ways of men? She sneaks from her house one night and calls on him to ask for his help.
Now, Lovingdon may drink, gamble, and womanize, but he's not a thorough-going rogue. Grace is his friend…almost a sister. He would never harm her or her reputation. He'd rather not get involved in her husband hunt at all, but she is impossible to turn down.
What follows is an entertaining tale of give and take between two people attempting to ignore the attraction they feel…Grace because she's sure Lovingdon will never get over Juliette, and Lovingdon because he believes his broken heart will never belong to another. WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED is a somewhat leisurely read until toward the end of the book. And there is a very unusual plotline in this historical romance, but you shall get no hint of it from me.
This new series could be called The Scoundrels of St. James, the Next Generation. If you've read the earlier series, you'll recognize several of the characters in this one. Ms. Heath's people are always most interesting.