Once upon a Dukedom, Book 2
From the publisher:
New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath continues her Once Upon a Dukedom series with this lush love story of a duke who discovers what he desires in a wife may not be what he needs…
If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.
But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?
We all have secrets, and that is at the heart of this Victorian romance. Penelope Pettypeace has been the Duke of Kingsland’s secretary for eight years. King may be ahead of his time in hiring a woman for this very important position, and she has done an outstanding job for him. In fact, she is his right hand, so when the woman he was courting throws him over for someone else, he tasks Pettypeace to find him a duchess. He advertises for a wife, and lets her sort through all the letters to narrow down the list.
Turns out the Duke, his brother, and his mother were severely abused by his father. When King inherits the title, he finds out his father has left them penniless. But King is smart and turns their fortunes around by his judicious and farsighted investing. Now all he needs is a wife.
The Duke is a shrewd businessman, and Pettypeace is privy to all his secrets, or so she thinks. Turns out he is hiding a monumental one, but she is unaware as she herself dwells on her own very shady past. It is hinted at throughout the book but we don’t find out either secret until pretty much the end. No matter. Meanwhile, the Duke wakes up one day and realizes he is attracted to Pettypeace and decides to see where it goes. For both of them, the best situation is that they have an affair by night and are professional by day. Of course we know how that is going to turn out.
Heath writes steamy romances, and this is no exception, but it has a really sweet ending once you get past the big secret reveals. I liked these characters and although King was very much oblivious to his feelings for most of the book, Pettypeace was not, and it was her struggles with her feelings that really made this such a compelling read. This is another excellent addition to Heath’s body of work. If you like sexy Victorian romances, you will be a happy reader – I was!
10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE DUCHESS HUNT by Lorraine Heath. Avon (September 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-0062952011. 368 pages.