Series: Girl Meets Duke #3
Release Date: August 13, 2019
When her adopted parrot Delilah escapes her cage and flies into the neighboring house, Lady Penelope “Penny” Campion of course follows, but finds a lot more than just her wayward parrot. She finds the new owner of the house, Gabriel “Gabe” Duke, AKA the Duke of Ruin, barely dressed and dripping wet and for the first time in her 26 years, Penelope feels lust and desire so intense it stuns her.
Gabriel Duke is a self-made man, he grew up penniless and destitute and has worked hard to amass a fortune that will ensure that he will never know poverty again. He hates aristocrats and thinks nothing of using their secrets and debts against them earning himself the moniker of the Duke of Ruin. Gabe bought the house next door to Penny’s because he knows he can turn a profit by selling the renovated house to a commoner just because she is the neighbor. He is shocked to see that she is lovely and young, he heard that she was a spinster and a recluse, but after seeing her, he can’t imagine why and thinks the men of the ton must be blind or stupid.
The next day Penny gets a visit from her Aunt Caroline and is told in no uncertain terms that if she doesn’t make some sweeping changes in her life and get rid of the animals that she has accumulated, that Caroline will not stop her brother Bradford from taking her back to Cumberland for good. Penny cannot bear the thought of returning the family seat and with her parents away in India, her brother is in fact able to force her to return with him. She promises her aunt that she will get a new wardrobe, attend events and find homes for her foundlings.
Gabe’s architect comes to him to complain about Penny, showing Gabe a stack of letters she has sent that have delayed construction. Gabe promises to take care of Lady Penelope and gets his chance a short while later when he sees her in the park with a goat. He confronts her and tells her that she must get of the animals, she tells him that it doesn’t matter, she will be leaving soon anyway. He says she can’t leave, his profit in the house depends on her! He tells her he will help her find homes for the animals. And so it begins…
This was an absolutely charming, fun and surprisingly emotional story. As always, the writing is outstanding and the story is paced well. The characters are both entertaining and likeable, the banter is amusing, the secrets they both hold are heart retching, the resolution to her heartache is amazing, the love scenes are steamy, the cameos from Chase, Ash, Emma, Alex and Nicola are priceless and the ending is wonderful. I loved Gabe and Penny together, I thought their chemistry was evident from their first encounter and never waned. As much as I loved this story, I did think that the title was a bit misleading as there was no real “wager” and that there is a real contemporary feel to this book, and while it wasn’t enough to ruin my enjoyment, it did at times jar me. This is the third book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone with no problems.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected e-ARC that was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher.*