THE WICKED DUKE – Madeline Hunter
Wicked Trilogy , Book 3
Marianne Radley's uncle has brought his daughter Nora back to his home in Gloucestershire. She had been staying with Marianne and her mother in their cottage in Calne for three years. Since a fever at age fifteen, Nora has not been normal, often lost in her own world, oblivious to everything around her, or sometimes wildly raging. She was found outdoors one stormy night trying to make her way home. Sir Horace Radley inherited the entailed estate after the deaths of Marianne's father and brother. He has graciously brought Marianne and her mother to live with him again, mostly to take care of Nora. Marianne listens with disbelief to her uncle's plan to marry Nora to the man he claims seduced her the night of the storm when she caught her fever. That man is the Duke of Aylesbury, someone who has shown his willingness to seduce Marianne. A seduction she finds very hard to resist.
Lancelot (Lance) Hemingford inherited the dukedom when his brother Percy died a year ago. Rumors have circulated that he murdered his brother. His reputation as being wicked hasn't helped. Everyone believes Percy had been a good man, but Lancelot bears knowledge and a facial scar that proves his brother was anything but good. Luckily, his brother Ives, a barrister, and his illegitimate brother Gareth give him their support. They also know what Percy was like. They had advised Lance to remain at Merrywood Manor until rumor dies down in London. It's been nearly a year. Then Horace Radley, the local magistrate, blackmails him.
THE WICKED DUKE is a seductive story not only because of the attraction and very hot scenes between Lance and Marianne, but also because of the position Lance finds himself trapped in, and his determination to uncover the truth and clear his name—not an easy task. Marianne, a smart, determined woman who has a secret means to earn a little money, finds herself a pawn in her uncle's plans. Nora's story is also a compelling story line. These all combine to make this a satisfying read.