Saturday, May 28, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Desperately Seeking a Duchess by Christi Caldwell

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

I’m continuing with historical romance. I just finished Christi Caldwell’s Desperately Seeking a Duchess, book two in the series All the Duke’s Sins. (The first book, Along Came a Lady, was a lot of fun. You should read it first, but don’t have to.)

This novel continues to follow the fortunes of the Duke of Bentley’s illegitimate children, raised in a mining town by his mistress. He was unaware of them until very recently and is now trying to make amends.

For Cailin Audley, the youngest child and only daughter, this means a chance to experience London, the museums and bookshops in particular. Or so she thinks. Instead, it is an endless series of lessons on how to behave in Polite Society. She is miserable all the time, except for her encounters with Courtland Balfour, the seventh Duke of St. James.

Courtland is a reforming/reformed rake, who has inherited not only the title from his father but a ruinous mountain of debt and the care of three younger sisters. He also is responsible for his twin brother, Lord Keir, who is on the autism spectrum. Keir is employed by Bentley as a man of business, and it is that employment that is barely keeping the family afloat.

Cailin and Courtland have met once before, very briefly, when Courtland posed as his brother, sent by Bentley, to convince the family to come to London. That encounter went poorly or wonderfully, depending on the perspective.

At any rate, when the two meet again, they put that behind them and begin again. Courtland admires and understands Cailin, but he hides from her his family’s devastated fortunes. Cailin finds him charming and yet down-to-earth, unlike much of what she is seeing of Society. When she goes to his house, unchaperoned, to give him some news, her reputation is nearly ruined. Her family whisks her away to a country home for a house party, still bent on finding her a husband. She is even more miserable. Until she sees that Courtland and his siblings were also invited. There, they have more opportunity to grow their friendship and to recognize that they have fallen in love.

The characters are lovely people. Cailin is refreshingly anti-polite society. Courtland is an honorable man, devoted to his siblings, despite his reputation. Although I found the chemistry between them a bit unconvincing at first, they grow into a couple to root for.

There are siblings aplenty in Cailin’s family and in Courtland’s, so I eagerly await the next book in the series!

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