Daring the Duke by Lana Williams

Daring the Duke (The Seven Curses of London Book 7)Daring the Duke by Lana Williams
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Seven Curses of London, #7

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Still reeling from the death of her beloved friend, Lady Lillian Bartley goes to London with one goal in mind – to make Elijah Waters, the Duke of Burbridge pay for breaking her best friend Helena’s heart. Lillian is a sweet, loving, loyal person, she doesn’t blame Elijah completely for Helena’s death, but she feels that he was a major factor. Helena had fallen fast and hard for Elijah when he danced and flirted with her at a ball. Later she receives a letter from an “admirer” wanting to meet with her – but when he doesn’t show, she falls into a fit of despair and when she becomes ill, fails to fight for her life and dies. Lillian believes that Elijah sent Helena the letter and toyed with her affections and she will do the same to him – she will make him fall in love with her and reject him as he did Helena.

But when she meets Elijah, she has a hard time reconciling the man who so callously hurt her friend with the kind man who is obviously dealing with his own grief over the recent death of his father. Lillian’s plan begins to unravel before it even starts – she is consumed with self doubt and questions herself, her worth and her motivations.

Elijah has his own doubts and guilt to deal with, he is attracted to Lillian, but he is not ready for a wife. The death of his father hit him hard and he spent most of the previous year in a haze of alcohol and meaningless dalliances to staunch the pain. Now he has finally realized that he owes it to his father to be a better man and take up the reins of the duchy. Elijah tries to do the right things, but besides the estate, his mother is suffering. She has turned to drinking to cope with her pain and Elijah feels responsible. When Lillian saves his mother from a potentially humiliating scene, Elijah begins to wonder about her reason for being so nice to his mother. But as time passes, he realizes Lillian is a truly beautiful person and he longs to know her better. When he suggests a ride in the park, Lillian agrees, only to be hurt when he fails to show. She then begins to question her decision to not hold him liable for Helena’s pain. What Lillian doesn’t know is, Elijah’s mother is on death’s door. She consumed some doctored spirits at a party and was poisoned. Elijah was not with her at the time, because he was out looking for the man who is selling altered liquor – he believes that his mother was subjected to it the night she almost caused a scene. He was given a copy of the Seven Curses book by Lillian’s brother Viscount Frost and read that things can be added to liquor to improve potency and shelf life while cutting costs – but the true price is high – many of the additives are poisonous.

When Elijah realizes he missed his meeting with Lillian, he rushes to see her – she forgives him and promises to visit the Duchess, but her own insecurities have taken root and the budding relationship they had may never blossom as a result.

Elijah doesn’t understand the change in Lillian, but he is grateful for her attention to his mother. The Duchess is finally starting to move past her crippling grief, thanks in part to Lillian. Elijah decides that Lillian is the woman for him and sets out to court her. But Lillian can’t seem to accept his attentions, she cares for him, but doesn’t feel worthy of his attention. So when an opportunity to help him by finding the apothecary that is suppling the additives to liquor distributor, she jumps at the chance to prove herself worthy of his love.

I thought this was a well written, emotional story that did true justice to how people grieve and the harmful effects of self-doubt. Lillian and Elijah are both dealing with insecurities and both are grieving, I liked how Ms. Williams dealt with both issues and I found the storyline of the tainted/altered liquor completely fascinating. There are no love scenes in this book beyond a couple of stolen kisses, so the heat level is low, but I didn’t feel like the story suffered from the lack. I thought this was a well done story that tackled some very sensitive issues and still managed to have a HEA. And while this is the seventh book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand alone title.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me*

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Avid reader (and reviewer) of historical romance.

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