The Return of the Duke
BY Lorraine Heath
Rating: 5/5 Genre: Historical Romance Steam: Explicit Publisher: Avon Pub Date: July 26, 2022 Thank you so much Avon and NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC. All opinions are my own. Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop
Return of the Duke Synopsis:
When his father, the Duke of Wolfford, is hanged for an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, Marcus Stanwick is stripped of everything. Vowing to return honor to his family, he seeks to expose the others involved in the treasonous plot and bring them to justice. His search forces him to turn to a woman he despises for her unforgiveable betrayal—a woman known as the heartless harlot.
Harboring secrets, Esme Lancaster has her own reasons for wanting to discover who’s behind the conspiracy that’s still afoot. She doesn’t trust Marcus but can’t deny the handsome devil makes her wonder if she does indeed possess a heart, one he could very easily steal.
As their hunt for the truth leads them into danger, Marcus finds Esme isn’t cold and calculating as he’d assumed but fire and brimstone, with courage and determination to match his own. Soon, they’re unable to deny their growing desire for each other. But giving into temptation comes at a cost, and they must decide if love is worth the risk of losing their one chance for redemption.
The Return of the Duke Review:
I think was my favorite book of Once Upon a Dukedom series by Lorraine Heath. The layers of complexity within the characters and how the unfold is by far one of the best I’ve read (at least recently). Between the incredibly plot that kept me intrigued, to the inter turmoil of the characters, to the steam there this is truly a gem of a book!
I loved Esme so much, she was a fascinating character that I really connected with and enjoyed reading. Her back story (no spoilers here) made her by far the most interesting character in this whole series. I just wish her and Penelope (from book 2) could have met in the book because I know they would have been besties. Truthfully I could easily take a whole additional book just on Esme and her past because it would be ENTERTAINING. Also, we love when the woman is older in the relationship–especially in historical romance!
I have been waiting for Marcus’s book since the first in the series because you knew it was going to be a ride! And it was. Marcus really overcame a lot and I loved all of the softer moments he had with Esme. Like the spicier scenes still had me swooning with him because he was there for her the ENTIRE time. I mean if you read this and don’t think that he was the most during those scenes, let’s talk;).
Ok that plot though. I LOVED IT. I am a sucker for spy and political intrigue AND romance. So obviously this book was perfect for me. A balanced blend of discovering the motive and the actors and avoiding the ~feels~ for each other. Ugh, so good.
Uhhhh I really don’t have anything besides maybe Esme and Penelope hanging out and being the superior beings. Because I know these two would have been the absolute best of friends.
Long Story Short
Do I recommend this book? YES! If it wasn’t obvious thus far I absolutely adored this book. To be honest I’m already debating rereading it. Yeah, it was that good. Do I think you need to read the first two books in the series to get this one? Not really, the first one, Scoundrel of My Heart, might be helpful to understand everything but you aren’t missing much. Overall this was a fabulous read that fulfilled every need I have in a book.
If You Liked This One…
Obviously the first two books in this series, Scoundrel of My Heart and The Duchess Hunt, are going to be my first recommendations. Both are amazing. Otherwise, A Daring Pursuit by Kate Bateman might be another good one. There’s blackmail, enemies to lovers, and excellent steamy scenes. I would also be mistaken not to include Emily Sullivan’s books as they all are similar themed in good plot with excellent romance, but a bit less steamy (the steam increases with each book). A Rogue to Remember (1), The Rebel and The Rake (2), and The Hellion and The Hero (3).