Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Devilish Dukes, #3
Release Date: January 5, 2021
The last person Miss Eleanor Kent ever expected to be interested in the chinoiserie that she “obtained” for Prinny’s collection at Brighton Pavilion was Sherborn “Sher” Price, the Duke of Danby. But on further consideration, she realizes she really shouldn’t be surprised, since the duke has been tasked by the Prime Minister to track down and stop smugglers from sneaking their goods into England and failing to pay the duties – something she knows a lot about – since she is in fact a smuggler! She tries to keep her head low and not attract any more attention than necessary, but the duke seems more than a little intrigued by her and with Prinny’s help, convinces her to meet with his mother about redecorating his townhouse. With no way to refuse, Eleanor accepts but hopes to avoid him.
But Sher isn’t about to let her off the hook that easy – he suspects she is not all she appears to be and once he starts digging into her life, learns that her invalid father owns an import business and the more he digs, the more he is convinced that Eleanor is involved in smuggling, but he isn’t sure to what extent and uses that as an excuse to stay close to her. He invites her to ride in the park, which results in her finding an abandoned baby, a baby she refuses to turn over to a foundling house. She is shocked to learn that Sher is very good with babies and even helps her find a nursemaid for the baby girl, she calls Margaret. There is also the fact that when he learned her father is mentally locked inside his own mind, he offered to visit him and read to him – which has unexpected results for both of them – for her, her father begins to interact and respond for the first time in years, making it impossible for her to keep Sher from visiting and for him – he overhears her servants talking about shipments and uses that info to bring her empire to a halt. But when she tries to sever ties with him and asks Prinny for help – things that an unexpected turn!
This was well written, fast-paced, fun read with very likable characters and several interesting plot points. The story has a lot to like, smugglers, a secondary romance, a foundling, a strong heroine, a wonderful hero, several twists and turns, a marriage of convenience, warm to steamyish love scenes, and a very sweet ending complete with an epilogue. I did feel the story meandered off point a couple of times, but in the end, it was all good. This is the third book in the series, but it can definitely be read and enjoyed as a standalone title.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher.*