Title: The Duke of Defiance
Author: Darcy Burke
Series: The Untouchables #5
Genre: Regency Romance
Available: 27th June
Difficult and defiant as a child, Bran Crowther, Earl of Knighton left England as a young man to pursue independence and adventure. He never expected to inherit the title and when duty calls him home, he still finds Society’s codes constricting and others’ expectations oppressive. Nevertheless, he needs a wife to be a mother to his young daughter, preferably a woman of intelligence and warmth who is, above all, immune to his idiosyncrasies—and to falling in love.
Widow Joanna Shaw isn’t interested in a second marriage, not after the loveless, passionless union she endured. She’d much rather dote on her young niece and nephew since they will likely be the only children in her life…until she meets a precocious girl, in desperate need of a mother. But her father, the so-called Duke of Defiance, is as peculiar as he is handsome, and Jo won’t take another risk with her heart. Their rules, however, are made to be broken, even when the consequences could destroy them both.
Source: ARC provided by the author via NetGalley
I really enjoyed this latest addition to the Untouchables series – which can be read as a standalone perfectly well – and it’s less-than-usual take on a few things. Such as a devoted father and his child, the reasons behind Bran’s defiance and even the truth behind Jo’s marriage. Throw in a bit of household drama and some family troubles and the whole thing made for a great read.
I loved Bran. He had a horrible childhood, constantly tormented by his awful older brothers who used his hypersensitivity to touch as a way to torture him. Made worse by his nasty mother, who refused to even try to understand why Bran didn’t want to do certain things like wear clothes and punished him for his defiance. It’s not surprising that he fled England at fifteen and made a new life for himself in Barbados. Most of all I loved how he adored his daughter Evie and never tried to change her less than standard behaviour. They both have their quirks, but their family bond is perfect and the way they cared about each other was wonderful.
Then there was Jo. I really liked her, she is strong and determined and hiding an awful lot unresolved issues caused by the verbal abuse of her deceased husband. Her pain over her barrenness was palpable, especially when everyone else was happily talking about babies. Her relationship with Bran is a little slow to get going, but I loved the way the pair of them connected so easily. He is certainly not the kind of man she’s used to, but she accepts him for exactly who he is, as he accepts her, and together with Evie they make a great family.
Of course it’s all far from plain sailing, what with past emotional issues to overcome, personal quirks to learn and adapt to, plus a few social rules and moral barriers to be broken down. There’s also an obligatory breakdown in communication to cause tension, but it’s done in a believable way, even if some resolutions felt a little too quick and easy.
Overall, though, this was lovely. A strong but wounded heroine, a dutiful but different hero, a cute child, a few servant dramas and plenty of family fun and woes, all with a vaguely historical background that’s more about the sense of the period than fully accurate (too many modern Americanisms). If you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable Regency read, then give this a go. I look forward to seeing what Darcy Burke comes up with next.
The Duke of Defiance is out June 27th.
Visit Darcy Burke for more details.