by Joan M. Fox

April 2002
ISBN: 1-931742-11-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Treble Heart Books

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When the Duke of Weston and his heir Joshua are presumed dead, Antonio Thorndyke is forced to leave his home in Spain and become the new Duke of Weston. Although he recognizes his role as an aristocrat, a trip to England is hardly to his liking; Antonio prefers to spend his days in Southern Spain enjoying the sun, the sand, and his horses. But as decorum dictates, Antonio is the new Duke and so he does go to England, accompanied by his sister Briella.

In time, Antonio begins to find some pleasure in all London has to offer - the racing, the gaming, and the women. Still, he has no intention of marrying. He enjoys the single life way too much.

Caroline Lockler has seen her share of tragedy. The deaths of her father and her husband have left her in a constant state of mourning. As a result, she is shocked by her strong reaction to Antonio. He is even more charismatic than he was years ago.

The mature Caroline awes Antonio. She has blossomed into a lovely vision of womanhood. Always the rake, he is determined to have her one way or another. He never expects to lose his heart while trying to earn her affection.

When passion overtakes them and a possible pregnancy looms, Antonio and Caroline hastily marry. At the time, both are too afraid to admit the depths of their feelings for each other.

But is love enough for the couple when they are from two different lands? And when Antonio loses his title and no longer has any reason to remain in England, will Caroline give up the only home she has ever known to be with him?

For a Regency Period lover like myself, The Reluctant Duke was a catchy title. I could not wait to delve into the story and spend time with a handsome, rakish, hero who would be forced into a situation of his own choosing and then undoubtedly find love where he least expects it, most likely with the beautiful woman right under his nose.

Although the tale does contain a charming hero and an attractive heroine, it lacks other qualities required in a good read.

The one thing that stood out the strongest was the insufficient editing of the book. Most pages were filled with grammatical and spelling errors. Although the scenery descriptions were very informative, they were like the rest of the sentences in the story, often too choppy and in excess. This space should have been used to expand on the characters.

While interesting in the fact they both had rebellious personalities and were trying to fight an attraction that was stronger than them combined, Antonio and Caroline were somewhat lifeless. Though they intrigued each other, they were hardly capable of standing on their own merits as individual characters. The character development was too thin. I was more interested in the secondary players than I was in the leads.

I would love to reread The Reluctant Duke after it has been properly edited. The story is interesting and has great potential.

Reviewed in February 2003 by Natasha.

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