It can be quite a tall order to redeem a character who was a heel in an earlier book in the series - you have to make sure you don’t go overboard with the villainy if you want your readers to buy into this character becoming a hero or heroine in their own right. Janna MacGregor pulls it off very well here with Paul, Duke of Southton, a former rake now forced to amend his ways since the deaths of his father and brother landed him a title he never wanted.
Lady Daphne Hallworth always believed in Paul’s goodness, even though her brother now loathes his former best friend. So when a diary with intimate secrets which could destroy both her and her family is stolen and she has nobody else to turn to, she doesn’t hesitate to ask Paul for help. To his credit, he doesn’t hesitate either, vowing to do anything he can to protect her.
I really liked Daphne and her determination to make her own life, but to be honest I was bemused as to why there wasn’t a steady stream of suitors calling on her day and night. Yes, she’s 25, but she’s also beautiful, an heiress to some fifty thousand pounds, and connected to some of the best families in England. There’s no way a woman like that is treated as a spinster or on the shelf by anyone; there’d be desperate swains coming out of her ears. And similarly, Paul, as a duke, even one with a bad past reputation, should have young women throwing themselves at him left and right. Instead, Daphne was literally the only single, eligible female in the entire book.
If you haven’t read the previous books in the series, you might be a bit lost, because previous characters - and their children! - feature fairly heavily. On the other hand, if you have, you might struggle to recognize Paul from the character who featured as a heel in those earlier books, because he seems very different. His father treated him horribly, but even so, I always think that’s not much of an excuse to behave badly to other people, especially innocents who don’t deserve it. The Paul of this book acts with such honor you’d think he could never do anything awful ever, and he’s a perfect match for Daphne, but there’s a fair bit of soul-searching to be done first.
I did struggle a little bit with this one because there were just a few too many unlikely things all happening at once. Still, it was an enjoyable enough book to lose myself in for an afternoon. I’ll give it 4 stars.
The Good, The Bad, And The Duke is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.