Domestic harmony is once again disrupted at the villa, this time by one of the Duke’s ex-lovers—the Comtesse Duras-Valfons claiming Roxton is the father of her infant son, claims supported by the Salvan ancient aunts. Intent on causing mischief for Her Duke, they also hope to embarrass the Duchess by dragging her into the scandal. Every French noble may be aware of the Comtesse’s shocking claim as to the paternity of her infant son, everyone that is except the Duchess. When she learns the truth, Antonia deals with the family drama in her own inimitable style.
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LUCINDA BRANT is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of award-winning Georgian historical romances and mysteries. She writes about families, creating worlds that are full of history, heart, and Happily Ever Afters.
Lucinda has university degrees in history, politics, law, and a post graduate degree in education. Now a full-time writer, she has had many careers: university administrator; selling merch at rock concerts; mentor to first year medical students; and history and geography teacher at an exclusive boarding school for young ladies.
Lucinda lives in the middle of a koala reserve, so the neighbors are cute and cuddly and sleep all day. She has been researching and reading about the 18th Century for forty years, and still finds the Georgian era just as fascinating now as then.
Lucinda is a proud member of: The Jewels of Historical Romance; Novelists Inc.; The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi); and the Audio Publishers Association (APA).
Lucinda's many awards include:
$10,000 Random House/Woman’s Day Romantic Fiction Prize for NOBLE SATYR
12x IndieBRAG Medallion
8x Readers' Favorite medalist
3x finalist for the RONE award. DAIR DEVIL awarded the RONE Historical Novel of the Year
Chatelaine Romantic Fiction First In Category Award winner for DAIR DEVIL
2x finalist for the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year (RBY) award for NOBLE SATYR and DEADLY ENGAGEMENT
"Quizzing glass and quill, into my sedan chair and away! The 1700s rock!"
Her Duke is a beautifully written historical romance novel transporting readers to 18th century Paris. As in the first two installments of this series, readers are swept up in the drama of Roxton and Antonia’s relationship as well as the dynamics and intrigue of society. In this novel, the forces of Court and society seem to be pressing in on both Antonia and Roxton. Nevertheless, they manage to navigate these obstacles with strength and grace.
The novel opens with Roxton’s judgement and sanity being questioned after he fulfilled Antonia’s wish to make his valet of many years a gentleman of independent means. This was something that simply was not done in those days. Although it was Roxton’s decision, Antonia is implicated and viewed as a negative influence as is evidenced by Roxton’s sister’s thoughts, “The ancient aunts worried for M’sieur le Duc d’Roxton’s sanity. To create his valet a gentleman of independent means was not only unconscionable it was the stuff of lunacy. What flea had entered her brother’s ear?” It is implied that Antonia is indeed the flea that is being referred to.
This is the first time in the series where Antonia is perceived as being a serious problem. Not only is she viewed as responsible for the undoing of Roxton’s mental wellbeing, but she is also viewed as the catalyst bringing about the downfall of the entire Salvan clan. Thus, the Salvan relatives, humorously referred to as the “ancient aunts” want to exact revenge on her. Not only is their reputation in tatters but their finances are also in a dire state. Despite it being the Comte de Salvan who precipitated these circumstances upon them, they are laying the blame at Roxton and Antonia’s feet.
Together, the ancient aunts connive with one of Roxton’s former lovers, the Comtesse Duras-Valfons, to bring about humiliation upon Antonia thus spoiling the couple’s happiness. Little do they know that the couple is strongest together and nothing can come between them. However, the Comtesse spreads a rumor that she has had a child and that Roxton is the father. However, the scheming does not stop there. The ancient aunts then collude to shame Antonia by arranging a social event during which the rumors will be exposed in a degrading and humiliating manner.
Needless to say, their plans are scuppered by the heroic interference of Roxton who manages to twist the situation to suit him and those he loves. Antonia also rises above the bait in the most graceful and admirable manner.
Despite the drama that unfolds, there is always a humorous undertone throughout the writing. This is either depicted through Antonia’s dry wit or her brother-in-law, Lucian’s, bumbling and blustering ways. A particularly funny comment came from Estee, Roxton’s sister, as she was happily reminiscing about how Antonia came into their lives, “I do wonder from time to time what our days may have been like if not for that fateful night, when you swept into the foyer with Antonia in your arms, she with a bullet in her shoulder, and you as white as a ghost and covered in her blood - ” While she is meaning this in good cheer, the words she is using contrast with her happy sentiment, which is ultimately that of gratitude towards Antonia for shaking up their lives. These quips scattered throughout the novel maintain a lighthearted and upbeat mood, making this series a feel-good and enjoyable read.
Additionally, Antonia’s pure heart balanced with her quick intelligence and blunt speech counterbalance Roxton’s gruff manner and dark tendencies. While Roxton views himself as heartless and fears turning out to be the cruel man his grandfather was, Antonia’s presence reminds him otherwise, “And then Antonia had twirled into his life. This vortex of love and light turned his well-ordered world upsidown. She said it was not so much that he was heart-less, but that he had misplaced it, and she knew where to find it. Not only that, but she would restore it to him and also to his family.” Antonia truly is the glue that binds everyone together.
Overall, this novel is quite enjoyable. In comparison to the first installment, however, this one moved at a slower pace. It is similar to the second installment, His Duchess, in terms of pacing. While this reviewer prefers a more fast-paced plot with slightly more action and side plots intertwining with the main storyline, there is a deep connection to the characters. Even if nothing happens, it brings joy to simply read about their lives and experiences. One of the primary strengths of the author is to create strong and well-developed characters. They are brought to life in such a vivid way enabling readers to truly connect with them and empathize with their struggles whilst also celebrating their successes.
The author also does a fantastic job with world building and immersing readers in the lifestyles of both the rich and poor during that time period. As with the other books in the series, important topics and themes are interwoven within the main storyline. An important theme which surfaces in this novel is the tension between the restriction’s society places on individuals versus their free will to follow their heart’s desires. Whilst this was pertinent in all the books, it is most significant in Her Duke. Antonia’s choice to raise her child with her as well as have the children of the nurse maids with her is considered absurd to society. Both legitimate and illegitimate children of the nobility seemed to suffer greatly through being separated from their families at young ages. It was particularly harrowing how a woman who birthed an illegitimate child was expected to behave, “If a pregnancy resulted then the female quietly retired from Society until after the birth. If the infant lived, it was sent far into the country to an indigent couple, never to be seen again or acknowledged in any way. After a short absence, and with the bloom back in her cheeks, the female re-entered Society.” These details as to the expectations society had over how one should behave helped to shift readers’ mindsets and truly imagine the emotional experiences people went through back then.
It is with a bittersweet sentiment that this reviewer moves on to next read the last novel in the series. While I am fascinated to find out how the story ends, I am also preparing myself for the closure of a series which has grown dear to my heart.
“Her Duke” by Lucinda Brant receives four stars from The Historical Fiction Company
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