A Spinster’s Guide to Danger and Dukes by Manda Collins
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: A Lady’s Guide, #3
Release Date: March 28, 2023
Miss Poppy Delamere, formerly known to readers as Flora Deaver, secretary to Lady Katherine Eversham, is frantic. After two years of hiding from her stepfather, Poppy has no choice but to return to her family so she can save her sister Violet from being convicted of murder! To Poppy’s utter shock, she learns that when she refused to marry her stepfather’s secretary and ran away, he forced his daughter Violet to marry the man – but now he is dead and Violet has been accused of his murder, by non-other but her father! It is an injustice that Poppy cannot ignore, so without a word of why, she sets out for Little Kidding, but almost immediately her plans are in jeopardy when a pickpocket steals her money. She goes after the man but loses him when she literally runs into Joshua Fielding, the Duke of Langham. A man she wants nothing to do with, but now that she is without funds, she agrees to travel with him, as he too is on his way to Little Kidding. As they talk on the train, she explains why she is going and he offers to help her clear her sister’s name, and suggests that she could repay him by pretending to be his betrothed for the duration of their visit. As much as she would like to refuse, it is a perfect solution to her problem, and having a duke on her side will open more doors than she could manage alone. And so begins their partnership…
Joshua isn’t sure why he asked her to pose as his betrothed when he had just reconciled himself to considering the ladies his grandmother undoubtedly gathered for his perusal. He is surprised to learn that Poppy has been keeping secrets from everyone and admires her desire to help her half-sister, she is definitely not who he thought she was, but he likes her all the more for it! Once they arrive in Little Kidding, he is surprised to be greeted by his sister and many of the house guests from his grandmother’s house party – immediately he finds himself defending Poppy, who really doesn’t need his help. And when he introduces her to his grandmother, she proves once again that she can hold her own and he finds himself liking her even more! As they start to dig into the murder, he knows he is in trouble, because the more time he spends with Poppy, the more he wants to make their faux engagement real – can he convince her that they are perfect for each other or will she walk away with his heart once her sister is cleared?
OMG – this is without a doubt the crown jewel of this amazing series. I felt the chemistry between Poppy and Joshua from the beginning and I loved how protective he was of her, even before his feelings were engaged. Add to that a very well-plotted mystery, wonderful secondary characters, nasty baddies who get what they deserve, cameos from previous couples, a slow-burn romance, steamyish love scenes, and an edge-of-your-seat ending that leads to HEA. My only complaint was that I wish there had been an epilogue, but even without one, this story is a must-read. Loved, loved, loved it – this is the third book in the series, but you could easily read it as a standalone title, but really, do yourself a favor and read the entire series in order – it is so good! Now we wait and wonder if Joshua’s brother will get his own book because he should – but, one can only hope and drop not-so-subtle, wishful hints to the author in their review😊
*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.*