Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Duke Hunt, #3
Release Date: August 23, 2022
The last thing Gwen Cully expected when she went to work in her smith that day was to save a conman from being hanged and then end up betrothed to him – but that’s exactly what happened! Gwen was working in her smith when the man she knew to be the scoundrel impersonating the Duke of Penning’s heir entered and begged her to hide him from the angry mob chasing him. She thought he was exaggerating, but when she sees the townsfolk baring down on them, she lets him hide. Unfortunately for him, someone comes into the smith and sees him and he is dragged away. With the townsfolk intent on hanging him!
Kellan Fox knows what he did was wrong and to be honest, he is tired of his nomadic life, but he made a deathbed promise to his mother to watch over his father and has felt duty-bound to keep his word. But this is the last straw, his father scammed the people of the town into believing that he was the long-lost Duke of Penning and that Kellan was his heir, but when his con was exposed, he took off, leaving Kellan to take the fall. And now with a rope around his neck, it seems like he will indeed pay the price for their sins. But to his surprise, the lovely blacksmith tries to stop the mob from killing him. Going as far as to proclaim her love for him. And it works, sort of…because they end up betrothed to prove that they really love each other.
Gwen and Kellan don’t want to marry, but she knows if she doesn’t marry him, she will be ruined and her business will suffer even more than it has since her father and uncle died. So she suggests a compromise, they marry and spend one year together, in an in-name-only platonic marriage – and then he will be free to leave. Kellan agrees, as he owes her his life, and even offers to help her around the house and the blacksmith shop. It seems like an ideal partnership until it becomes clear that the platonic part is going to be harder to adhere to than either of them thought. Is it possible that this relationship built on a lie could be a love match? Can Gwen trust him or is Kellan just playing her for a fool?
This was a fun, fast-paced story with extremely likable characters and a fresh twist on the marriage of convenience trope. This story has witty banter, believable character development, a marriage of convenience, lies, dodgy relatives, a bully, great secondary characters, trust issues, steamy love scenes, and finally a very lovely HEA complete with an epilogue. This is the third book in the series, but they are very loosely connected and can easily be read as standalone titles. I enjoyed this story and would happily recommend this title.
*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.*