They call him the Duke of Ruin.
To an undaunted wallflower, he’s just the beast next door.
Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.
Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.
When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.
Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?
And a two-legged dog.
And a foul-mouthed parrot.
And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .
Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.
Not if he ruins her first.
I feel like I waited forever for this book!
(I didn’t really. But Tessa Dare ratcheted up my need for it with all of the cute baby goat pics she put up on social media. Plus all the podcasts she went on, talking about the book. Not to mention the hints we got at Penny’s story in book 2, The Governess Game . I was chomping at the bit, I tell you.)
Penny and Gabe’s story was all I had hoped for and more! The grumpy guy next door who “won’t be tamed” and the wallflower who collects (literally or figuratively) wounded animals like they’re playing cards light up every page they’re on together. The witty banter! The swoony romance! The steamy sex! The mutual tending to fluffy (or feathery) creatures! It’s all here, and it’s as awesome as you could have hoped for.
Plus: Nicola, Emma, and Alexandra are back. And they brought Ash and Chase with them–Ash, Chase, and Gabe on the page together are pure gold. The Marigold in labor scene (sorry, Penny, it seems she is exactly that type of goat…not that there’s anything wrong with that) was brilliant. There was 100% snort laughing going on over here–if only I hadn’t been walking the dog at the time…
There are some heavier issues dealt with here as well. Gabe’s backstory is pretty rough, and Penny suffered abuse at the hands of a family friend when she was growing up. These parts were hard to listen to, but Ms. Dare dealt with them well, and knowing what they went through to get to their HEA made the ending even sweeter.
My favorite line of the book goes to Aunt Caroline this time:
“Now that was satisfying. I never knew until this moment how much I wanted to have henchmen.”
Frankly, Aunt Caroline, same. 😉
The audiobook was delightfully read by Mary Jane Wells. Whether she was voicing the men or the women, she did a wonderful job and made this one even more of a joy to listen to.
Bring on Nicola’s book; I’m ready!
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A