Sophie Barnes comes to the blog today with the third book in her Diamonds in the Rough series, a story of unexpected elevation into society and titles, and our couple that is struggling with the opposing forces of desire, worthiness and society’s constraints in
The Illegitimate Duke
You don’t need to have read the earlier titles in the series to jump into Juliette and Florian’s story, but once you put this one down you’ll be wanting to see how things came about. Juliette is the sister of a newly-minted Duke, although their early years as children were spent in poverty and scrabbling for survival. Now elevated to the tonne and recipients of the ‘best’ invitations even as whispers and finger points follow her near everywhere, Juliette isn’t desperate to marry simply because it is the next step: she wants to find love (like her brother and sister have) and to have a partnership in her marriage – something rare and not ‘usual’ in her social circle. A sickly child, Juliette spent more of her childhood reading and learning, young Raphe being careful to keep the girls safe and well-stocked with reading material, even if it was only two books at a time. Intelligent, curious, exceedingly kindhearted and determined to ‘make her own sort of difference’, Juliette seems unaware of her beauty and desirability, particularly when confronted with the snotty and often clique-y behavior of other unmarried girls at the balls. Juliette is instantly engaging and solidly her own woman, and truly hard not to like with her combination of brains, curiosity, problem-solving and softly managed determination.
Florian is the second son, with a nod from the King and his ailing uncle to inherit a Dukedom. A physician by trade, he went into medicine and delved into his studies to ‘offset’ his own perceived weakness as he determined to be the best and most helpful and honorable man possible. Not wanting the title from his Uncle, he’s also taken pains to care for him in the last stages of cancer, nearly the only time his well-practiced remove in separating emotions and personal feelings from his work. A control freak, Florian isn’t one who likes to allow his emotions freedom: he’s entirely too much in his own head, spiraling into a sort of depression and anxiety surrounding his big secret, and the struggles to maintain a distance and appearance of ‘together’ when in truth, he feels anything but worthy or respectable. Add to that – he’s a GINGER! A rarity in romance – we see redheaded women often enough – it’s rare that a man would be. But his hair is just one thing that sets him apart from others. He’s spent years traveling and learning, adopting different procedures and techniques and gaining valuable experience that he has brought back to London and a hospital that he manages with the able help of a Dowager Duchess, long removed from society.
These two are adorable together, Juliette is drawn to Florian for his reserve, the slight tinge of sadness in his eyes, and his apparent inability to accept her compliments, even when they are more than well-deserved. Juliette is not a ‘flatterer’ or a flirt, she’s going to speak kindly, but never gild the lily when she feels a compliment is deserved. And, having a man, in her recent experience, that isn’t chasing her for the connection to her brother and actually engage in conversations with her about ‘real’ things is a rarity. It doesn’t hurt that the two are stunning to look at, and the sparks fly. Florian, for his part, is constantly talking himself out of thoughts about Juliette, afraid of her reaction to his secret, and convinced that staying alone and removed is the best way to keep her both safe and on the right track. It’s just that circumstances, Juliette’s determination to make a difference, learn and push Florian in ways unexpected are lovely. Add to this the threat of Typhoid fever, which could decimate the city, a threat from Florian’s past, and Juliette’s sister and sister-in-law (as well as her brother) gently retiring and allowing for the two to work out their own ‘issues’ until the two are placed into situations that will change their own trajectories for the better.
Title: The Illegitimate Duke
Author: Sophie Barnes
Series: Diamonds in the Rough #3
Also in this series: A Most Unlikely Duke, The Duke of Her Desire
Genre: Historical Romance, Late Regency, Mystery Elements, Setting: Britain
Published by: Avon
Published on: 28 August, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 34 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
United in a common cause…
Juliette Matthews longs to be much more than just another pretty ornament in society. But using her recently acquired fortune to do some good is more complicated than she anticipated. Young ladies are not expected to risk their safety in helping the less fortunate. And the one gentleman who could help in her mission is stubborn, infernally handsome—and far too honorable to act on their mutual attraction.
And in a desire impossible to deny…
Florian Lowell has suddenly been made heir to the Duke of Redding—a far cry from his status as a dedicated physician. Yet even with his new role as the country's most eligible bachelor, the beautiful, fearless Juliette is utterly beyond his reach. The scandalous circumstances of his birth would destroy both their reputations if they became known. But when a more urgent danger threatens Juliette's life, Florian must gamble everything…including the heart only one woman can tame.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.