Monday, September 7, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

It’s vacation time, so I snuck in a historical romance just for the fun of it. The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen is not due for release until mid-November, but I recommend that fans of Regency Romance who enjoy a bit of mystery/thriller mixed in to the plot put this one on your lists.

Lady Sara Emerson is a beautiful gentlewoman who has retired from society after the shocking murder of her cousin two years before. Cousin Meredith was everything Sara is not: a force of nature, sparkling, vivacious, exceptionally gorgeous, sociable, the life of every party, and engaged to the equally charming and attention-getting Duke of Rossmoyne (Ross). Sara, who suffers from extreme social anxiety, has been hiding away in the country, tending to her retiring and devastated uncle. Her intention was to live out her life as a spinster and recluse. But that was before the letters started. Someone is sending her letters referring to her cousin’s murder and they are taking on a threatening tone. All she can think to do is to hand them over to the duke.

Ross has been in India for the past two years acting as a representative of the Crown. The work has steadied him and given him purpose. He still feels guilt over Meredith’s death. Not only does he believe he failed her, but also, re-evaluating their relationship, he knows they were not as well-suited as everyone thought. When Sara puts the letters in his hands, he is determined to protect her and do a better job of it than he did for his betrothed. When she insists on being involved in the investigation, he is irritated at first. But as they spend more time together, he grows impressed with her intelligence, her bravery, and her sense of humor. They are at ease with one another, an odd thing, since he sees how tense she is when forced to be in company with society.

Sparks fly. The relationship heats up, but each of them believe they don’t deserve the other–and Meredith’s memory stands in the way. The situation becomes more dangerous as the letter writer gets angrier and bolder. Can they catch the killer before he strikes again?

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