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Living in Spain and raising his horses is all Antonio Thorndyke wants to do, but since the disappearance and supposed death of his cousin, he is now forced to go to England and take over the title as Duke of Weston. Despite having been raised in Spain by his English father and Spanish mother, he is not a stranger to England. Although reluctant to inherit the title, he is nevertheless glad to see old childhood friends, including Caroline Lockler, a sister of his old friend. Antonio cannot believe that the girl has grown into such a beauty and he cannot stop thinking about her and her charms.
Caroline is pestered with the “blue devils” - her husband has died following her father and the only cure to chasing them away is by racing her horse, Demon. Hal, Caroline’s brother, has been trying to get her back into the spirit of things and feels that an association with the Duke and his sister is just the thing to do it. Turns out that her brother is right, and her “blue devils” are chased away by the Duke chasing her!
The Reluctant Duke, is promoted as a “Sensual Victorian”, and my first thought after finishing the story was that it’s wasn’t sensual at all. On second thought though, I have to say that it was sensual, but only from the hero’s perspective. Maybe the Antonio’s passionate thoughts about Caroline just overshadowed hers, but I can’t help feeling that the romance and sensual nature was completely one sided. I think that if the story hadn’t been promoted in such a way, I might have liked the story better. I was anticipating something and when I didn’t get it, it made me feel let down; whereas if I just read it without any preconceptions, I might not have been looking, and I wouldn’t have found anything lacking.