The Duke of Distraction, an all-new historical standalone from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke, is available now!
After witnessing how love embittered his uncle and broke his father, Felix Havers, Earl of Ware vows never to love. He conceals his emotions behind a wall of wit and charm, and is celebrated as the master of entertainments—parties, picnics, races. When his best friend’s wallflower sister needs to find a husband, he promises to make her the toast of London… without losing his heart.
Miss Sarah Colton has given up on the pursuit of marriage. When her parents learn she intends to open a millinery shop, they give her an ultimatum: choose a husband or they’ll do it for her. She accepts Felix’s help, never imagining their scheme will ignite a mutual attraction neither of them dare indulge. But when tragedy strikes, can they heal each other or will the demons of Felix’s past consume them both?
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“It’s time for you to marry,” Father said, surprising no one. Or so Sarah assumed. Anthony knew how desperately they wanted her to marry, and she had to think Felix did too. Of course he did. Sarah was the first person to complain about the pressure they applied.
“Past time, one might say,” Sarah murmured and tried not to send an exasperated look toward her mother.
“There’s no need to be saucy,” Mother said tartly.
“Why must Felix and I be privy to Sarah’s humiliation?” Anthony asked.
Humiliation? Sarah had been annoyed, mildly embarrassed even, but not humiliated. At least not until now. She tossed a withering stare at her brother. He had the grace to wince and look away.
“There is a reason,” Mother said before inclining her head toward Sarah’s father.
Father coughed. “Er, yes. We wondered if it might make sense for you, Felix, to wed Sarah.”
Humiliation didn’t begin to describe the emotion swirling inside Sarah and erupting in her cheeks. Surely they were about to catch fire.
She would have snapped at her father or mother or both, but words simply wouldn’t come.
Anthony stood. “You can’t ambush Felix like that!” At Sarah’s intake of breath, he added, “Or Sarah.”
Sarah didn’t bother sending him another acid glare.
Their mother pursed her lips at Anthony. “We’re not ambushing him. Felix is like family. He’s well aware of Sarah’s sad state.”
Oh, this was just getting better and better. Now she was in a sad state?
“Furthermore, Felix is in need of a wife. Your father and I discussed it, and we think this is an excellent match.”
Sarah couldn’t bear to meet Felix’s gaze, so she stared at the floor. Had the patterned carpet always had that odd mushroom shape next to the leg of the settee?
“I’m glad you discussed it,” Anthony said with a great deal of sarcasm. “You might have discussed it with Felix, however.” He looked toward Felix. “Did they?”
Now Sarah chanced a look at him. Felix shook his head. To his credit, he didn’t look surprised or annoyed or pale or anything other than what he’d appeared since she’d arrived: uncomfortable.
Felix and Sarah’s story! Plus, we finally find out who wins the races… 😉
The Duke of Distraction is a friends-to-lovers/best-friend’s-sister romance, and it’s nicely done. The characters are very sympathetic, and as Ms. Burke throws more complications and tragedy in their direction, readers share in their heartache and root even harder for them to figure out how to get to their HEA.
Which they do–finally! Before which there were times I wanted to shake Felix as hard as I wanted to hug him, so…lucky for him he’s fictional. And twice as lucky for him, he came to his senses and Sarah was right there for him. HEA for the win!
My only real complaint–why isn’t the cover model wearing one of Sarah’s hats? Seems like a missed opportunity there… 😉
The epilogue–and the author’s note at the end–indicate that this is the end of The Untouchables series, because a spin-off is coming (to which I say yay! New series! …but what about Anthony??? Fingers crossed he’ll show up in there, because that man NEEDS an HEA of his own). Every–or almost every? I didn’t count, but there were a lot of them!–of the couples from this series make an appearance at the most recent version of the annual ball that started the series, wrapping things up nicely. If you haven’t read the other books yet, you might be a little overwhelmed; really, though it’s a brief wrapping-up scene for the series, and you don’t have to know who all of those people are. The rest of the book would work as a standalone–but why would you do that to yourself? Read them all! 😉
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and 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. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.
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