THE INFAMOUS DUCHESS by Sophie Barnes

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Diamonds in the Rough, Book 4

From the publisher:

A woman with a shocking past…

Branded a money-hungry con artist for marrying the elderly Duke of Tremaine days before his death, Viola Cartwright has found refuge in her work at St. Agatha’s Hospital. No one must know the painful reason behind her marriage. She steers clear of attachments—until Henry Lowell, heir to the Viscount Armswell, lands on her operating table after a duel. Charming and wickedly handsome, Lowell is one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels. Yet he may not be all that he appears.

And the man who can promise a future filled with love…

Posing as an unrepentant rake has helped Lowell avoid women pursuing him only for his title. But now that duty has finally called on him to marry, he finds himself entranced by the mysterious, independent-minded Viola. Then her late husband’s son returns from overseas, contesting Viola’s inheritance. Lowell longs to help her and sets out to convince Viola that a strategic union may be the best way to save all she holds dear. But can he also persuade her to take a chance on love…?


I am really enjoying the latest trope of having 21st century characters inhabiting the 18th century. By that I mean strong, independent women with careers and men who appreciate them. Viola and Lowell certainly fit the new standards and in a way that is always believable.

Viola is a skilled surgeon, trained by her father since women certainly couldn’t go to medical school back then. She marries a much older man, and is criticized for it, which I did find a bit surprising since that was certainly very common back then. Rich old men were considered catches for the young debutantes of the day so I wasn’t sure why Viola was considered a gold digger – all the young girls vied for the best titled men they could land but I guess since her father worked for a living instead of being titled gentry, that puts her out of the running. Sadly, her husband died quite soon after their marriage, leaving the marriage unconsecrated and Viola some money. Even more sadly, her husband’s son violated her before the marriage so she in no virgin.

Viola wants to use that money to open her own hospital, another seriously unlikely event of the day but what the hell, I bought it here. And Henry Lowell is the perfect man for her, although of course it takes quite a while to get to their happily ever after. The way the ton is portrayed is with the usual pettiness and vindictiveness, leaving me wondering why anyone even cared what they thought. Upper crust society was a strange beast, to be sure.

This is an interesting and well written series, and this book ends with strong hints as to the couple to be featured next. I’m looking forward to it.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE INFAMOUS DUCHESS by Sophie Barnes. Avon (March 26, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062849748. 384p.

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