Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Once Upon a Dukedom, #1
Release Date: March 30, 2021
Due to stipulations in her grandmother’s will, Lady Kathryn Lambert, the only child of the Earl and Countess of Ridgeway, Kathryn will have to forfeit ownership of Windswept Cottage – her favorite place in the world – if she does not marry a titled gentleman before her 25th birthday. So no matter how interesting she finds her best friend’s brother – as the second son, Lord Griffith Stanwick is not a viable candidate. But the Duke of Kingsland certainly is and he has made it known that he is in the market for a duchess. The duke is a busy man and doesn’t have time to find bridal prospects, so he places an advert in the papers telling the eligible ladies of society to write to him outlining their qualifications and he will choose one to court with the intention of marriage the following season. Kathryn’s friend Lady Althea who is already engaged suggests that she write to the duke after Kathryn states that she would not consider marriage to a man without a title.
Griffith has long been smitten with Kathryn, but after overhearing she would only marry a man with a title – has given up hope of capturing her heart. When she asks for his help in learning what the Duke is looking for in a bride – Griffith goes a step further and writes to the duke on her behalf. The night of the ball where Kingsland is going to announce his choice – Kathryn and Griffith share a kiss – a kiss that makes Kathryn wonder if a cottage is worth giving up on love. But when she is chosen, good manners require her to accept the “honor”, she is shocked because she didn’t write to the duke, but learns that Griffith did! The next day she goes looking for answers and is instead shocked to learn the Griffith and Althea’s father has been arrested for treason and Griffith and his elder brother Marcus have been taken in for questioning too. Shortly thereafter, their father is convicted and hanged, they are stripped of their titles and possessions and Kathryn is forbidden to associate with Althea. Not long after, their mother dies and the siblings disappear.
A year later, things change – Althea, who was jilted by her betrothed, is now married to the Earl of Tewksbury, Kathryn is being courted by the Duke and Griffith has opened the Fair and Spare club he had hoped to form before his world fell apart. When Kathryn learns of the club – she sets out to get answers and discovers the passion between them is just as bright as it was a year ago and just as forbidden.
But as they spend time together, Kathryn begins to fall more in love with Griffith and questions whether the cottage is worth a lifetime without love and Griffith is determined to see her dream of owning the cottage realized – he doesn’t feel worthy of her and loves her enough to want her to get her heart’s desire – which he believes is the cottage. Can she make him see that he is what she truly wants or will he refuse to believe it and continue to push her toward Kingsland?
What a great book, it is a well-written, nicely flowing story with wonderful characters, steamyish love scenes, a bit of intrigue, Trewlove cameos, a hero who loves selflessly, and a heroine who will not settle for less than her heart’s desire. It may seem as if there is not a lot of external conflicts and nothing other than the hero keeping our lovers apart, but even still, their road to HEA will not be without bumps and obstacles. I loved this book and highly recommend it to historical romance lovers. This is the first book in a new series, but if you read the previous series – Sins for All Seasons – you will see many familiar faces and get answers to questions you might have had at the end of that series.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. *