THE ONCE AND FUTURE DUCHESS Sophia Nash
The Royal Entourage , Book IV
Avon
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-227363-5
June 2014
Historical Romance

London, England Early 1800's

Several weeks ago, James Fitzroy, the Duke of Candover, and six of his other duke friends gathered for a bachelor party before he got married.  Unfortunately, the absinthe they all drank rendered them crazy, and word of their antics reached the newspaper and a ground swell of hatred grew among the citizens of London.  Prinny, the Prince Regent, is afraid the masses might turn the way of the French and install the guillotine, so he has instructed each of the duke's to get married immediately and stay out of the news.  James's betrothed left the church after several hours, and in fact, this is the second time an engagement of his went wrong.  He is determined never to taunt fate by even thinking of getting married again.  Then the daughter of his old mentor, the Duke of March, comes to visit with an intriguing proposition.  Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March, was also at the party, and Prinny has given her a list of possible men for her to marry, and a list of women for James.

But first, Isabelle suggests that they marry each other; they are a Duke and a Duchess, they need not worry about someone marrying them for money, and secretly Isabelle has been in love with James since she was a teenager.  He was the man who told her dying father he would teach her how to manage her properties and see that she was married to a man close to her own age, not a man ten years older than she.  When James refuses her offer, Isabelle swallows her hurt and says she will start looking for women for him, and men for herself, but she still has hope in her heart she can wear down his refusal.

Also involved with the scandalous dukes is the Duke of Sussex and James's sister's abigail, Amelia Primrose.  When Amelia is determined to return to Scotland, James persuades her to go to Isabelle and work for her cousin Calliope who is staying with her.  Amelia soon admits that  something awful happened and she ended up getting the drunken archbishop to marry them that fateful night; and the duke is rightly irate and wondering why she married him.  Their convoluted situation will also tug at your heartstrings.

Sophia Nash is continuing the story of the drunken dukes who almost toppled the monarchy; the Prince Regent is keeping a close eye on what is happening to Isabelle and James.  James's experiences with women have left him determined to keep away; after all men have been known to father children at 80; maybe he'll wait until then.  Isabelle is a rarity, a duchess in her own right, and with Prinny on her back to marry, James is the only man that has interested her for years.

Secondary characters are the other members of that infamous bachelors' party and Prinny and his notes to Isabelle putting the pressure on her to get married.  Isabelle's cousin Calliope is certainly a young lady with a mind of her own, and Amelia is involved in something larger than she is.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE DUCHESS is a historical romance with a gutsy duchess, a disillusioned and stiff-necked duke, and also another couple involved in the mystery of their marriage.  This story of the Royal Entourage continues the results of a drunken night of a group of dukes and how their antics are changing all their lives.  This is the fourth book in the series following BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA; THE ART OF DUKE HUNTING and THE DUKE DIARIES.  You'll love the reformation of this disillusioned duke this month!

Carolyn Crisher