The Forbidden Duke
The Untouchables #1
By: Darcy Burke
Released March 15, 2016.
Spinster Miss Eleanor Lockhart is suddenly homeless and employment is her only option. Ruined after succumbing to a scoundrel’s excessive charm nearly a decade ago, she’s lucky to obtain a position as a paid companion and committed to behaving with the utmost propriety. She definitely shouldn’t be in the arms of a man capable of utterly destroying what little remains of her reputation…
Titus St. John, Duke of Kendal, is known as the Forbidden Duke, a mysterious, intimidating figure who enters Society just once each year at his stepmother’s ball. A decade ago, he was a devil-may-care rake until his idle roguery brought about the ruin of Eleanor Lockhart—and his resulting self-imposed isolation. Now she’s back, and she needs his help. But by “saving” her, he may just ruin her life all over again.
The library was not a small chamber, however it seemed somehow smaller tonight. Kendal’s presence seemed to invade every nook and inhabit every cranny, and Nora was nearly overcome with awareness. And nervousness.
She rushed to say something to put herself at ease. “I quite enjoy the Satterfields’ library.”
He paused, pivoting toward the bookcases that marched along one wall. “Do you? What are your favorites?”
Nora wondered what he’d think of her tastes, which ran the gamut from romantic novels to gothic tales to poetry to suspenseful narratives. “I have many. I’m afraid it’s difficult to choose.”
“What’s the last one you read then?”
She hesitated, but only briefly. “A romantic novel by Sarah Wilkinson.” Presumably, he’d find her tastes lacking.
“I’ve read all of her books.”
Nora looked up at him in surprise. “You read Sara Wilkinson?”
He gave her a sly look. “Perhaps you noticed that Lady Satterfield owns every title. She’s always had a penchant for such stories, and, in my youth, I read everything I could get my hands on. Everything.”
Nora pressed her fingers to her mouth and giggled. “Do you like romantic novels?”
“I don’t dislike them. If I’m in a particular mood, I’ve been known to read three or four in a week.”
Her giggles turned to outright laughter. “The Forbidden Duke reads tawdry romances? What would the ton say?”
“I don’t give a damn what anyone says, but I suppose that would cause a stir.”
How lovely it must be not to care—not to have to care—what others said about you. “Everything you do causes a stir,” she said, her laughter dying down. “The novels would make you seem more human, however.” She inwardly winced at how awful that sounded. “Oh dear, please forgive me. I didn’t mean to infer you aren’t human.”
He took her hand and tucked her fingers beneath his coat, guiding her palm flat against his waistcoat directly over his heart. “You can feel that I am.”
Nora’s breath caught. She looked up at him, her gaze locking with his. “I never doubted it.”
An enjoyable read!
I liked that both Nora and Titus were older than the usual Regency heroine/hero (Nora more than Ttitus, since the men tend to be older anyway, but he acted older than many of his peers) and that both were still trying to deal with things that had happened ten years earlier. I was a bit worried about what would happen when Nora found out that Titus had had a part in her ruination so many years earlier, but that part was nicely handled and very believable. Did I mention that I liked having more mature heroes and heroines? Especially when they manage to act like rational human beings…
Their romance was nicely built up; I loved how Titus kept finding ways to justify all the extra time he spent at society functions (he usually attended a single ball each season–his stepmother’s–where he danced one time only) just to see Nora again, even if deep down he knew he was full of it. So adorable. And Nora really tried to find a husband that wasn’t Titus… 😉
The secondary characters in the story were delightful as well–I loved Titus’s stepmother, Lady Satterfield (also Nora’s employer/sponsor) and Lady Dunn, the society matron who takes Nora under her wing. Lord Satterfield, Titus’s stepmother’s new husband, was also a great character. I could have easily spent another hundred or so pages in company with all of them!
A few of the events toward the end–the rumor that serves as a catalyst to action for Titus, and the introduction (I assume) of future series characters–felt a bit heavy-handed, but I enjoyed the rest of the story so much it’s hard to really mind all that much.
Ms. Burke is a new-to-me author, but I’ll definitely be reading more from her in the future–both the continuation of this series and others 🙂
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Darcy Burke is the USA Today bestselling author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily-ever-after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations.
A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids-who each seem to have inherited the writing gene in some form-and two Bengal cats. In her “spare” time Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a 12-step program where one learns to say “no,” but she keeps having to start over. Her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge.
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