THE DUKE DIARIES – Sophia Nash
The Royal Entourage Series
, Book 3
Avon
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-202234-9
March 2013
Historical Romance

Derbyshire, England – Early 1800's

Since she was thirteen, Lady Verity Fitzroy has kept a journal.  One day she believed her life was so boring she was writing about peas; then she saw Rory Lennox, her Brother James's friend, with James's almost fiancée riding under the tree where she was writing .

Ten years later she is woken up in her bed by her brother and finds a semi-drunk Rory, now the Duke of Abshire, in bed beside her.  Naturally, James insists they get engaged and marry before what has happened goes all through society.  Verity has no intention of getting married to anyone, let alone the man she has secretly loved since that early day of writing her diaries.  James insists on sending her home immediately to Derbyshire, and in her haste she forgets her diaries.  Unfortunately, a column in a London newspaper is soon publishing excerpts from them, and if she is found to be the author, she, her sisters, and her brother are sure to be shunned by society.  Her brother may be the Duke of Conover, but even that won't save their reputations.  Now she only has to convince Rory that she will not accept marriage just to still the gossips; if she was going to marry, it would be to someone who loves her.

The party celebrating James, the Duke of Conover's wedding included absinthe, which apparently rendered them all drunk beyond description, and their antics were immediately written up in the newspaper the next morning.  Now the whole city is protesting the riotous living of the Prince Regent and his friends, not to mention James never made it to the church, and his would-be bride left London with her family.  Then to top it off, Rory is found in Verity's bed the next morning.  James's ire is complete, and he sends her to the country and lets Rory know the Prince Regent insists they get married before the month is over.  So starts Rory's practiced seduction of Verity, which for some reason doesn't work the way it usually does.  Between Verity teaching in the town school and evading his inducements for marriage, Rory gradually comes to know her wit and her sweet but tart disposition.  Can these two people forget the past long enough to forge their own relationship, and can Verity avoid a possible scandal in London without Rory finding out?

The antics of the Prince Regent and his special group of dukes are once again known to the common people, and the articles in “The Fashionable World” in the newspaper are bringing to light other escapades.  Verity has loved Rory for years and can't believe he is now asking her to marry him under orders from Prinny.  Rory spent ten years fighting with Wellington and now has joined his friend Prinny and the other dukes in their various hijinks.  The brouhaha that breaks out after James misses his wedding has Prinny insisting everyone get married and settle down before England boots them out like the revolution in France.  At first Rory considers Verity plain, but it is her personality and wit, and her refusal to marry him that has him planning her seduction and eventual marriage to him like a military campaign, and he never failed at his assignments.

Secondary characters are some of the members of the Prince Regent's friends, and Verity's cousin Esme and her companion Amelia.  Also the ghost of Catharine Talmadge, James's almost fiancée from years ago, continues to haunt Rory after what happened to her and his part in it.

THE DUKE DIARIES continue the fiasco of the drunken antics of this group of friends and how it will affect all their future lives.  Following BETWEEN THE DUKE AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA and THE ART OF DUKE HUNTING (February and March 2012), another duke must contemplate giving up his bachelorhood and becoming respectable.  Rory accomplishes the impossible and pulls the only stunt that will touch Verity's heart and melt her determination to remain single.  I loved learning the story of another of Prinny's friends and eagerly await book four in the Royal Entourage series.

Carolyn Crisher