I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
The Duke of Deception
After five years on the Marriage Mart, Miss Aquilla Knox is ready for spinsterhood until a benefactress steps in to help her secure a husband. Only Aquilla doesn’t actually want to marry—her failure is entirely on purpose. When the earl she’s nicknamed the Duke of Deception sets his sights on her, she refuses to be drawn in by her attraction to him. If there’s one thing she knows it’s that a gentleman is never what he seems.
Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has a reputation for courting young misses and dropping them without a second thought. This has earned him a reputation for deceit, a description he can’t refute because he does in fact, harbor secrets and will do anything—deceive anyone—to ensure they don’t come to light. As he comes to know the charming Miss Knox, his resolve is tested. However, trust comes at a price and Ned won’t pay with his heart.
“He wasn’t taking a wife for reasons of happiness. He was taking one because it was required.”
Okay, with that line I wasn’t sure if I was liking Ned in the beginning. He also has a reputation for stinging ladies a long and then dropping them. But we all know from reading Regency romances that Society gossip is not to be taken seriously. Named the Duke of Deception, Ned has to prove himself worthy of being a gentleman. But his secrets will end up testing his relationship with Aquilla and his family. The dynamics with his brother set the tone for the rest of the story and the more I read about his situation the more I came to like him as a character; until, of course, when he decided to become stubborn and unwilling to trust Aquilla.
I liked the the overall family themes that the story portrayed, along with the highlights of mental illness that is ofttimes not focused on in romances. It was an interesting obstacle in the path of happily ever after.
Secrets abound in this story and Aquilla’s isn’t really that big of a deal. It’s sad to be sure, but I believe Ned’s was the overall focus. There was a little bit of the marriage of convenience trope in here, where the characters grow to love one another. But you will find, that it was all for a good reason. Not my favorite tropes, but I think it worked in regards to both leading characters.
Aquilla had trust issues as well, especially towards men.
“Maybe it was difficult to be kindhearted when one’s heart had to be hardened from years of neglect and abuse.”
Aquilla and Ned’s love story was sweet, when the romance kicked in. The key misunderstanding that leads to their “I love him/her” moment, occurs at the very end. I might have been a little ticked off at Aquilla from jumping to conclusions right away by listening to a complete stranger’s “story” about Ned.
Overall, I thought this was a good read. The emotional baggage that both characters carried made for an interesting story. I’m looking forward to Ivy’s story for sure. But right now, I have to say my favorite in this series is Book 2: The Duke of Daring.
A little note…
This can be read as a standalone.