The Duke’s Secret Heir by Sarah Mallory

the-dukes-secret-heir-by-sarah-mallory

‘This, madam, changes everything.’

Years ago, in the Egyptian desert, Ellen Tatham fell wildly in love and exchanged vows with Max Colnebrooke. But, when made to believe Max could not be trusted, she fled…

Now, Max is back in England to take up the reins as Duke of Rossenhall. And when he spies Ellen at a ball, the sparks are hard to contain! Little does Max know, though, that Ellen has a secret… And soon, he must learn to embrace an unexpected heir, and an unexpected–and disconcertingly defiant–duchess!

The Duke’s Secret Heir by Sarah Mallory

I picked this one up after I read the review at All About Romance. I’d probably not have otherwise, because I’m becoming exhausted with all the Harlequin/Mills and Boon titles with children on the covers.

The review suggested that this is a good book (it is), but with a hero who is very hard to like (he is).

I love reunion stories, and this is one. Hero and heroine met and married in a hurry when they were both in Egypt. However, world affairs got in their way, and they were separated, each thinking they were betrayed by the other.

When they run into each other again in England four years later, there is a son to consider.

This is all the sort of drama I love to read, and why this is my favourite trope.

The problem here is that the book is all about the hero’s sense of betrayal, and he demonises the heroine, gives her no chance for her own pain, and treats her terribly for most of the book.

He seems incapable of seeing that both of them were wronged in this situation, and he takes no responsibility for the secrets and lies on his part. It is such a contradiction to the man he was in the flashback scenes it made me a bit angry. He waits for her to prove herself – over and over – before he “forgives” her; he does nothing of the sort in return.

Only a few pages before the end of the book he is still blaming HER for the fact HE took off on dangerous missions and got people killed.

Max blaming Ellen for HIS recklessness is distasteful; his resentment has little foundation. X

I can’t help imagining what would happen the next time there was a misunderstanding. Would he be such a bastard again?

(However – yay for a fair-haired, green-eyed hero!)

On the other hand, this is beautifully written, and the English author brings more authenticity to the dialogue than you will find in most Regency romances.

There are also some excellent side characters (including one sad storyline), though the sister-in-law character is just a tad too mean for me! The little boy isn’t annoying, as romance novel children so often are.

I think that your enjoyment of this book will be dependent on your tolerance for heroes acting like jerks.

For me? I thought it was worth a read, even if I’d have been looking for ANY way to divorce, not reunite with, the man!

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