Cheers to the Duke by Sally MacKenzie

Cheers to the Duke (Widow's Brew, #3)Barbara’s rating: 4.5 Stars
Series: Widow’s Brew
Publication Date: 10/5/21
Period: Regency
Number of Pages: 352

OMGoodness – I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely, heartwarming romance. Our protagonists had both survived tragedy and unhappiness in their lives, both had survived, and both had overcome. Well, he had, but I’m not sure about her. While she has survived and has done good works, she still allows what happened during her marriage to color how she lives her life. It colors the decisions she makes and it makes her very wary and distrustful. Once burned, twice shy.

Lady Josephine Smyth-Waters was the daughter of a small village vicar – one of several sisters. All of her older sisters had already married vicars of their own, but that isn’t what Jo wanted for herself. That left her ripe for the picking when a handsome, charming, titled man arrived in their village and expressed an interest in her seventeen-year-old self. She was dizzyingly, dazzlingly, giddily in love and they were married within two weeks. Sadly, it didn’t take long for her to see the grave error she’d made. She’d never trust love again!

Over the last ten years, Jo along with her friends Caro (The Merry Viscount) and Pen (What Ales the Earl) created the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children. During the last year, both Caro and Pen have married and moved away, leaving the running of the Home totally on Jo’s shoulders. That isn’t good for Jo because she stresses over the responsibility – she feels she has to do everything herself – she can’t let their residents down. So, when Pen requested her to attend her newly delivered son’s christening and become his godmother – she had to refuse. She just couldn’t leave the Home right now. Ah, there is trickery afoot …

Until a year ago, Edward Russell had been a widowered London solicitor who was raising his young son, Thomas, on his own. While he had always known he was distantly related to Duke of Grainger’s family, he’d never met any of them – nor had he cared to. Then, a tragic set of events propels Edward into the title and his life isn’t his own any longer. He intended to follow expectations and marry to produce the spare he supposedly needed, but after a season of attending social functions and meeting simpering, insipid debutantes whose only interest in him was his title, he’d had enough. He was so grateful to be able to leave to attend the christening of his friend’s child – and to become its godfather.

I absolutely adored Edward and his son Thomas. He was a wonderful, loving, involved father who had no intention of marrying someone who didn’t love his son. It was wonderful to see Jo and Edward meet and come to care for each other. Jo had serious trust issues – not only didn’t she trust men in general, but she also didn’t trust herself or her own judgment.

This was a wonderfully straightforward love story without the navel-gazing, angsty, woe-is-me you see in so many books. It was well-written with humor, romance, wonderful characters, and the most delightful bear of a dog – named Bear. I hope you’ll love it as much as I did.

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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