He is the last duke standing
. . . the sole remaining bachelor of the three self-proclaimed Decadent Dukes. Yet Davina MacCallum’s reasons for searching out the handsome Duke of Brentworth have nothing to do with marriage. Scottish lands were unfairly confiscated from her family by the Crown and given to his. A reasonable man with vast holdings can surely part with one trivial estate, especially when Davina intends to put it to good use. Brentworth, however, is as difficult to persuade as he is to resist.
The Duke of Brentworth’s discretion and steely control make him an enigma even to his best friends. Women especially find him inscrutable and unapproachable—but also compellingly magnetic. So when Davina MacCallum shows no signs of being even mildly impressed by him, he is intrigued. Until he learns that her mission in London involves claims against his estate. Soon the two of them are engaged in a contest that allows no compromise. When duty and desire collide, the best laid plans are about to take a scandalous turn—into the very heart of passion . . .
‘If you do not flirt, how will you manage this marriage you anticipate making next season?’
‘I expect I will dance with her at balls a few times, call on her a few times, then propose.’
‘How dreadful you make it sound. Poor girl.’
‘Dreadful? Poor girl? She will be a duchess. Her family will be delirious with joy.’
I love everything Madeline Hunter writes, and Never Deny a Duke is no exception. While – in the hands of another author – the hero and heroine’s battle over the ownership of an estate, and a rushed trip up north to Scotland to debate it, would result in a mildly ridiculous romp, Hunter gives the story the perfect amount of weight – while occasionally adding her drier, more mature version of humour.
I really appreciated the tiny, funny touches here and there in this one, as this hero is the most serious of the three in the trilogy. And – as ever – I deeply appreciated the efforts to give both male and female characters friends; there’s more to their lives than the pursuit of the romance.
This is another unconventional heroine, but one who fits into her time period. She aspires to things she knows she cannot have, being a woman, but because she also knows the rules of the society she lives in she has to find other ways to reach those dreams. It’s a good balance of the historical themes designed for the modern reader.
Other than the occasional slip into modern American English (e.g. gotten and ass), Hunter’s Regency world is one I believe in. She never forgets to show the power held by the aristocrats, even as this current series features heroines who marry “up”.
There’s a slower burn to this book than some, but it gave the characters a chance to fall in love realistically, and therefore I enjoyed it all the more.
A solid conclusion to an enjoyable series.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.