The Duke’s Bride by Erica Ridley
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: 12 Dukes of Christmas, #6
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Jack Skeffington, widower, father of twins, wine connoisseur and smuggler is meeting with his ship captain, Capt. Redmire, trying to find a new smuggling route, when his ten year old son Fredrick bursts in the room upset that his sister Annie is beating him and his friends at hoops, Jack sends him off and picks up where he left off, after he maps the new route, the meeting is interrupted again, this time by his daughter Annie. Once he takes care of her, Redmire tells him that he needs a wife. Jack is clear, he had a wife, he loved her and lost her, he will not do that again and his children won’t accept another woman in their lives. But he will consider a governess.
Desiree le Duc is the sister to blacksmiths Sebastian “Beau” and Lucien le Duc and has many times been called the most beautiful woman in Cressmouth. Desiree and her siblings fled the French revolution after losing their parents and their lands, they settled in Cressmouth 18 years ago with an English family friend, who they lovingly call Uncle Jasper. She is content, but her brothers long to return to France and reclaim their stolen heritage. They have worked hard to pay off the lease on the property so they can leave Uncle Jasper taken care of and they are close to their goal – Lucien says another year at most. So when Jack offers an outrageous amount of money to be a temporary governess to his twins, she jumps at the chance.
Jack is attracted to Desiree, but he knows an affair is out of the question and he can’t offer her anything more, so he ignores the desire simmering in him and resolves to be friends with her – a friend he most definitely won’t be kissing.
Desiree fits right into their family and has to fight her own feelings, she can’t let herself fall in love with Jack or the twins since her time in Cressmouth is limited. But despite the best of intentions, that is exactly what happens and when she asks Jack to be her lover, she wonders how she will be able to walk away.
Jack finally admits he has fallen in love with her and knows that she wants to return to France, so he “helps” her brothers by paying them a huge payout for their help in the last smuggling run. He will let her go if that is her true desire, but he hopes she will choose to stay.
When her brothers announce that they will be returning to France immediately, Desire is torn, between helping her brothers win their heart’s desire and seizing her own.
This was a very well written novella with wonderful characters, amusing banter, steamyish love scenes, second chances and dreams coming true. This is the sixth book in the series, but it is easily read as a standalone with no issues.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the Publisher.*