Spotlight Review: THE DUKE’S SECRET CINDERELLA by Eva Devon

Never a Wallflower, Book 3

From the publisher:

Charlotte Browne could just kick herself. What on earth possessed her to tell the Duke of Rockford that she is a lady? But something about the duke’s handsomeness and kind intelligence makes Charlotte blurt out the teeniest, tiniest falsehood. Now it’s too late to admit she’s just plain Charlotte of no particular importance―with cinder-stained hands, a wretched stepfather, and no prospects for marriage…

Rafe Dorchester, Duke of Rockford, has done what every self-respecting duke must do―avoid marriage at all costs. But the only thing stronger than the duke is his mother. When she lays down the highest ultimatum, he’ll need to find a duchess. Immediately. Only, when he calls on a potential bride, he instead finds the pert, fresh-faced Lady Charlotte. Rafe was warned to never mix the business of marriage with pleasure, but when it comes to her…oh, business would be a splendid pleasure.

One passionate, illicit kiss sends Charlotte fleeing, leaving only a delicate blue ribbon behind. For Rafe can never discover her secret, or it will ruin her beloved sister’s chance at marriage. But the duke knows that when you’ve found the one person that ignites you, body and soul, nothing can keep you away.

Each book in the Never a Wallflower series is STANDALONE:
* The Spinster and the Rake
* Much Ado About Dukes
* The Duke’s Secret Cinderella

I read the first book in this series and really enjoyed it, but missed the next book. I will go back and read it for sure. This is the third book in this series. and it was pretty good.

Charlotte is your stereotypical stepdaughter, banned from society and kept busy cleaning and basically being her stepsister’s lady’s maid. Fortunately, they are as close as real sisters, so there is no bad stuff going on with them. The bad stuff comes from Charlotte’s stepfather, a nice twist on the Cinderella story. Charlotte lost her father so early that she doesn’t remember him at all, and lost her mother when she was still pretty young. Her stepfather is a cruel, tight-fisted man, at least with her; he’s much more generous with his daughter, Francesca, but both girls live in fear of his violent temper and demanding ways.

Rockford is a most unusual Duke; beyond wealthy, of course, but also kind and caring and using his position and power to improve the lives of impoverished Londoners, especially the children. His family started a foundling hospital for orphans, and it is his dream to take over that responsibility. He is very close with his mother since losing his father at a young age. The men in this family don’t seem to live very long, and his mother is determined that he will marry and have his heir and a spare lined up before anything happens to him. He can’t say no to her, but when she gives him her “list” of young women he should court, there is only one name on the list, Francesca.

Charlotte has scrounged together enough money to free one of the servants from the horrors of debtors’ prison. Her stepfather had him placed there, mostly to punish Charlotte and the other servants. But on her way to the prison, someone tries to attack her. She is armed with a brick and fends him off, with a little help from a nobleman. He turns out to be the Duke of Rockford, and he insists on accompanying her to the prison. When she realizes that she lost the money she brought to free her friend, Rockford steps up and takes care of it. He is completely smitten with this outspoken, caring young woman.

When he calls on Francesca per his mother’s instructions, he is delighted to find Lady Charlotte also living there. They have real chemistry, but beyond that, they share the same concerns about the poverty around them as well as their views on love.

Charlotte has lied about who she is, and when Rockford wants to marry her she refuses, explaining that she is not good enough for him, but doesn’t come clean. This goes on for most of the book and honestly, it made the story drag a bit. But I hung in there because I knew the happy ending was coming, and much to my surprise, there were several twists I never saw coming that made it all worthwhile. I really enjoyed this book, despite the lag in the middle, and look forward to reading the book I missed, as well as the next one in this series.

2/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DUKE’S SECRET CINDERELLA by Eva Devon. Entangled: Amara (February 21, 2023). ISBN:‎  978-1649372413. 384p.





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