Book Review: In the Dark with the Duke by Christi Caldwell

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I went on a six week hiatus from reviewing, and when I got back, I didn't start with this book. And that was my mistake, because oh my goodness, I LOVED it! At first I wasn't sure, it was a little slow to start for me, and I didn't immediately feel a connection with the characters. However, as the story picked up, and we got to see more interaction between the two main characters, my heart twitched and paid more attention. No doubt this book is on my Favorite Reads of 2020 list, and I'm so excited about that. Christi Caldwell continues to amaze me in her ability to write stories that are always unique, never follow a standard script, and always leave me reeling with feelings.

Hugh Savage has quite the reputation as a fighter, despite the fact that he would rather live his life never raising his hands in violence again. Forced to fight as a young boy, and only escaping that life by doing the unthinkable, he is back in the ring to repay a debt and only hopes that one day he can live a life in peace. One night, while fighting is going on at his partners' fight society, he spots a distressed woman just outside the doors and knows immediately that she does not belong. Lady Lila March has lived in relative isolation for nine years, ever since a traumatic event left both physical and emotional scars in its wake. With London feeling less safe after word spreads of the kidnapping of noble children, she decides her time in the shadows must come to an end, so that she can protect herself and her family. She has heard of Hugh Savage and sees in him the opportunity to learn self defense from the best London has to offer. Hugh resists at first, but Lila is determined and eventually a partnership forms between them. However, not everything is as it seems, and as secrets come into the light, both must face their past and determine what they want their future to look like.

Hugh and Lila are perhaps my favorite couple of the year so far. Both had so much to learn from each other, and their character growth as the story progressed was heartwarming. In their own ways, each suffered from what nowadays would be called PTSD, and their methods of coping formed their defense mechanisms. Hugh was angry yet repentant, and he saw fighting as his way of repaying the debt his guilt instilled in him. Lila, on the other hand, had become meek and withdrawn, and she rarely left her house during the day. So while one of them took action in response to their trauma, the other made as little motion as possible. This made them the perfect healing couple, as they could take away different forms of healing from each other. Lila needed help coming out of her shell, and Hugh needed help learning to forgive himself. Their secrets were monumental, but out of them came a love that was touching and real. I felt so connected to this couple by the end of the book that they will be floating around in my mind for many months to come.

I'm excited to read more - no doubt Christi will come up with a unique story that I will dive right into!

**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**