The Forgotten Duke by Sophie Barnes

The Forgotten DukeBarbara’s Rating – 5 of 5 Stars
Series: Diamonds in the Rough #5
Publication Date: 1/28/20
Number of Pages: 311

We met Carlton Guthrie, The Scoundrel of St. Giles, in the earlier books of the series and developed a love/hate relationship with him. Was he saint or sinner? Now, we get to meet the real man and we can decide for ourselves. There was a lot going on in this book and while I was left with questions about some things, none of them really had to do with the HEA, the mystery, or its resolution. You don’t have to have read the earlier books in the series to enjoy this one, but it is a great series and I can’t imagine why you’d want to miss out on those books – besides – you’ll get a better feel for Guthrie because he’s threaded throughout the series.

Carlton has many secrets and I’ll not share all of them with you – but – I mean – you did read the title of the book. Carlton’s one deep abiding goal for the last twenty years has been to punish (meaning causing the death of) Charles Berkly, Earl of Hedgewick. The Earl is a wily fellow and has managed to guard himself well during that time – and Carlton has only had a couple of instances where he might exact his revenge. Sadly, none of those came to fruition. Then, the perfect revenge presents herself to him – almost on a silver platter. Who is he to say no to such a providential gift?

Lady Regina Berkly has always been a biddable, dutiful daughter. She diligently studied the pianoforte though she disliked it, she learned to embroider, to manage a household, to speak correctly, to dance without flaw, all of those things at which her parents said she should excel. She knew it was her duty to marry and to marry well for the betterment of her family. She was fine with all of that. At least she was fine with it until her father returned one day and announced she was going to marry the Marquess of Stokes the following morning at eight AM. She was aghast! She had never even met this person and she was expected to marry him. Her father would not be dissuaded, but did tell her that the groom and his family would be coming over that evening for them to meet. Surprise, shock, dismay – all of those and many more words could be used to describe her feelings upon meeting the potential groom. He didn’t want this any more than she did – and he was still a child. She liked him and he would be a good man someday, but not the man for her. When she told Stokes that she’d get them out of the arrangement, he was grateful to her.

Regina spent most of that night thinking and thinking, but she couldn’t think of any way out – except to just leave – and that is what she did. Just before dawn she snuck out the door and began running – and running – until she was totally lost and not in the best part of town. She ran right into a wall – well – a man who seemed like a wall. He steadied her and she told him who she was and that she was running away. Then, she went on her way – only to run into dire trouble. Again, the man showed up to rescue her. He offered her sanctuary until she could decide where she wanted to go and then he’d help her. Reluctantly, she accepted his offer to stay at The Black Swan in his accommodations – as long as he didn’t make any demands of her. Admirably, he didn’t – the tension was there on both sides – but he didn’t.

“Who would have thought that she, the dutiful daughter of an earl, would be entertaining a bawd in a crime lord’s parlor?”

Lots of things happen – from kidnappings to betrayals – and Guthrie and Regina manage to become closer and closer through it all. Each knows that they love the other, but neither feels free to actually use the words. Then, when Regina is discovered and Guthrie’s deceit is revealed, Regina is devastated. Regina refuses to believe that her father has done what Guthrie says – but – she truly believes that Guthrie is honorable – so there must be another explanation. Can their relationship survive Guthrie’s deceit? Is her father guilty? If he is, can she keep Guthrie from exacting his revenge? Read the book to find out – you’ll love it.

This was a well-written book and a very enjoyable story with characters that I came to really like as I got to know them. I could feel Regina’s determination to take control of her own life and I could sympathize with Guthrie’s need for revenge. They were truly a very well-matched pair. It was a busy story that kept me engrossed from the first page to the last. It also nicely set up the next story featuring Ida Strong and Fielding (from  A Most Unlikely Duke). I assume Fielding will redeem himself in that book.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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