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This was a really sweet romance, with an intelligent heroine and an open-minded hero, which is exactly what I needed this week. The author has a knack for creating stories that resonate well with today's issues and draw out emotions from readers they didn't even know they had. Whenever I pick up a Darcy Burke book, I know I'm about to enjoy unique characters with a complex storyline and a happily-ever-after.
Lady Lavinia Gillingham would much rather be digging in the dirt for geological discoveries than dancing in a ballroom in search of a husband. So when she escapes to her host's library to read an interesting book on Cornwall geology, the last thing she needs is to be in the same company as one of London's most notorious rakes, William Beckett, the Marquess of Northam. Expecting to meet his latest paramour, he is astonished to find a young lady instead, and he is immediately enchanted with her frank demeanor and inquisitive mind. Their meeting is brief, but the memory of her is something he can't seem to get out of his mind, and he is determined to help her find the man of her dreams. Writing under his pseudonym, the Duke of Seduction, he writes an ode to her and publishes it in the local paper, never dreaming that it would be the last thing she wants. They soon strike up a friendship, but when his identity comes to light, will she still want anything to do with him?
Despite the seeming levity of the summary above, this book actually was quite dark as the story progressed. There were many hidden depths to Beck (the hero), and his inner demons came to the forefront as his relationship with Lavinia became more intimate. While their relationship appeared lukewarm to me for much of the book, I felt that their strong friendship made their love all the more powerful in the end. Beck had to work through a lot of his own insecurities, and he wasn't really ready for a relationship with Lavinia until he realized he could lose her if he didn't step up his game. I appreciated her candid conversations with him, and I felt her character complimented his as he sought a solution to problems he had fought for a long time. Lavinia had to be the stronger of the two, which, in a historical romance, is quite refreshing. It takes two to make a relationship work, and their problems weren't solved in a day. Their relationship grew over time, overcoming many hurdles, and ultimately creating a really strong partnership.
Darcy Burke creates a strong, engaging story unique to the time period! Highly recommend to lovers of historical romance.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**