Title: The Duke of Deception
Author: Darcy Burke
Series: The Untouchables #3
Genre: Regency Romance
Available: 15th Nov
After five years on the Marriage Mart, Miss Aquilla Knox is ready for spinsterhood until a benefactress steps in to help her secure a husband. Only Aquilla doesn’t actually want to marry—her failure is entirely on purpose. When the earl she’s nicknamed the Duke of Deception sets his sights on her, she refuses to be drawn in by her attraction to him. If there’s one thing she knows it’s that a gentleman is never what he seems.
Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has a reputation for courting young misses and dropping them without a second thought. This has earned him a reputation for deceit, a description he can’t refute because he does in fact, harbor secrets and will do anything—deceive anyone—to ensure they don’t come to light. As he comes to know the charming Miss Knox, his resolve is tested. However, trust comes at a price and Ned won’t pay with his heart.
Source: ARC from the author via NetGalley
This Regency romance tackles a few tricky issues, including domestic abuse and mental health issues, with a mostly light touch that made it enjoyable rather than dark.
I liked Ned. He has a hefty weight on his shoulders, because of his secret and his need to keep it. He’s also honourable and a gentleman who has done a lot to improve the plight of those unfortunate enough to be incarcerated in Bedlam. He does have a bit of reputation for breaking young women’s hearts, because his strict criteria for marriage has often led him to be seen frequently with one particular woman before deciding she isn’t suitable. I fully understood his reasons for this, though, and he’s never shown to be a complete cad.
Aquilla was equally likeable, if a little off about her reasons for marriage and her failed seasons. Oh, I could fully see why she didn’t want to marry given her childhood, but the idea that until recently she was all for it, then suddenly changed her mind, didn’t quite work for me. Her childhood seemed bad enough that she would have reached such a decision a lot earlier – or gone completely the other way in seeking an escape. Still, for the most part, she is a decent character and I liked how well she and Ned got a long, and their chemistry was believably heated.
However, there is one weirdly farcical moment that completely didn’t work for me. Up until then certain issues had been treated well and sympathetically, only for everything to then get wrenched into being a convenient plot device that allowed a few otherwise loose plot threads to be neatly tied up. It was pretty disappointing, to be honest.
Which is a shame, because that one moment aside, this was an enjoyable, engaging read that brings together two likeable characters with a host of troubled secrets underneath the skin. If you like your historical reads with a bit of heat, a couple of characters who aren’t entirely what they seem and a few hints here and there of deeper issues, then give this a go. Overall, I did, and I’ll admit I’m curious about how Ivy’s tale will turn out.
The Duke of Deceit is out November 15th.
Visit Darcy Burke for more details.