Title: The Forbidden Duke
Author: Darcy Burke
Series: The Untouchables #1
Genre: Regency Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: March 15th
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.
Source: ARC via NetGalley
I really enjoyed this easy Regency read, with an independent-thinking heroine who was disillusioned by society the hard way, and the reclusive duke paying a penance for his careless role in her ruin. I was utterly swept up in the relationship between Titus and Eleanor and it left me excited about the new series to come.
I liked Eleanor/Nora. She’s a woman to whom life hasn’t been entirely kind. She was ruined in a very feeble way, her family effectively abandoned her and her father is useless. Now, after nine years of hiding away with her supposed shame, she suddenly has to make her way in the world. I loved that she didn’t wail or panic, she just thought of some options and went after them. She’s capable and smart and not the least bit delicate. Yes, okay, so there is definitely a fairytale air to how things turn out for her, but that’s all part of the fun.
As for Titus, well, he’s a little bit broody, a lot mysterious and does tend to wallow a bit in his issues. But he’s also sweet to his step-mother, kind to Nora and deep down a good man. I liked how Nora’s presence slowly draws him out of the shadows but never actually changes him. They make a good pair, even if it was rather convenient that one moment Nora was enjoying her time in London, the next she wanted peace and quiet and the country.
Overall there’s a lovely feel to this short novel/long novella. It passes by quickly and easily, without too much high drama and with an enjoyable romance at the heart. However, some things are handled rather too easily and the end wraps up a touch quickly. As nice as some aspects of it were, the way it was handled felt a bit flat. Also, if I’m being super picky, I got a bit twitchy over the use of fall instead of autumn, and the repeated use of creek, which has a fairly specific usage in England for coastal inlets and the like, rather than as a general synonym for stream (brook probably would have been better).
So if you’re looking for a fairly quick, light Regency read with good characters and a lovely romance with a nice touch of heat, then I recommend this. Especially if you like intelligently independent heroines and brooding dukes. It also sets things up for the forthcoming trilogy, which despite the slightly clumsy scene of a duchess getting suddenly friendly with a bunch of much younger strangers, definitely piqued my interest. I’ll be looking out for the next one.
The Forbidden Duke is out March 15th!
Visit Darcy Burke for more details.