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She Took What Was Rightfully Hers - an Editorial Review of "To Steal a Duke"


To Steal a Duke book cover

Book Blurb:


She didn’t steal. She simply took what was rightfully hers—including his heart.


Charles, Duke of Hasterton, admired and respected for his cunning business acumen both at home and abroad has an astounding secret. He is imaginary. But his brilliant twin sister Cecilia is quite real. She was born in Germany after her father died and taught to guard the title, wealth, and power like the rare stolen treasure that it is. After all, as a daughter, she could never inherit the dukedom legally.


Cecilia and her mother cultivate the ruse of the fictional duke quite nicely. Everybody who is anybody in London believes His Grace resides with them at their stunning residence in Germany. Their acquaintances in Germany believe the pretend peer is always in London or traveling the world over. But when Cecilia’s mother falls victim to a grave illness and begs to visit her beloved London one last time, even though it’s risky, Cecilia can’t refuse her. But her mother can’t travel alone, and Cecilia refuses to entertain superficial men pining for nothing more than her dowry. So, she poses as her mother’s companion to ensure their elaborate farce remains safe. While everyone is told Lady Cecilia remained in Germany because of frail health, Miss Celia Bening, companion to the dowager duchess, enjoys the freedom to handle whatever arises—or at least, she tries.


Lord Elias Raines might be the second son of a duke and the youngest solicitor in his law office, but he’s proven himself so capable and talented that when his mentor dies, he’s promoted to partner and assigned to the rich, influential clients cared for by the man who taught him everything he knows. Well, almost everything. His dearly departed advisor failed to mention some of the peculiarities in the Duke of Hasterton’s file. Elias’s requests for the duke to review the oddities have, so far, gone unanswered. Luckily enough, he discovers the duke’s mother is in London. While decorum demands he wait for answers from the duke, he can’t refrain from digging deeper when the dowager duchess requests he draw up her will with a suspiciously generous endowment for her companion, the lovely Miss Cecilia, an intriguing woman who drives him mad with desire.


Delightful, passionate, and at times heartbreaking, a merry chase is had by all until a lifetime of secrets explodes. Elias must make a choice—help Cecilia devise a plan to protect the world she and her mother so carefully crafted or end their illegal scheme and escort them both to the prison.


Only one can win: his profession or his heart—until a third option too terrible to imagine rears its ugly head and makes the choice for them both.


Book Buy Link: https://geni.us/3Ntr9DN


Author Bio:


Maeve Greyson author photo

Maeve Greyson is a USA TODAY bestselling author, Amazon Top 100 bestseller, Amazon All Star, multiple RONE Award winner, and a multiple HOLT Medallion Finalist.

Her mantra is this: No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them.

She and her husband of over forty-five years traveled around the world while in the U.S. Air Force. Now they're settled in rural Kentucky where Maeve writes about her courageous heroes and the fearless women who tame them. Sometimes her stories are historical romances, time travel romances, or escapist romantasies, but the one thing they always have in common is a satisfying happily ever after. When she’s not plotting the perfect snare, she can be found herding cats, grandchildren, and her husband—not necessarily in that order.


Editorial Review:


"To Steal a Duke" offers a delightful glimpse into Regency England, where social norms and family obligations reign supreme. At its core, the story follows the resourceful Dowager Duchess of Hasterton, and her daughter Cecilia, who resort to deception to navigate a world where the lack of a male heir spells disaster for noble families.

 

The author delves into the harsh realities faced by women in the Ton when the absence of a male heir threatens their security. Greyson skillfully highlights the societal pressures and economic vulnerabilities that leave many women in dire straits, grappling with poverty and uncertainty in a world where inheritance laws favor men. Through the efforts of the Tuttcliffe family's struggle to maintain their standing, the novel sheds light on the systemic challenges that defined life for women in Regency England, offering an incredibly poignant commentary on gender inequality and the struggle for survival in a rigidly stratified society.

 

Widowed at a young age, Thea exhibited remarkable resilience, single-handedly steering the family fortunes to unprecedented heights. Under her stewardship, the estate's value soared, augmented by strategic land acquisitions and astute business ventures.

 

Their facade of prosperity, however, hinges on a carefully orchestrated deception: the illusion of a Duke overseeing their affairs. For years, they've successfully maintained this charade, hoodwinking society into believing in the existence of a fictitious Duke orchestrating their affairs. But as health concerns compel their return from Germany to London, the precarious facade they've crafted teeters on the brink of exposure.

 

Cecilia is a truly remarkable character and a leading lady who enthralls, shouldering an immense burden after the passing of her father. In an era where women are systematically disenfranchised from inheriting wealth or property, Cecilia defies societal norms with her brilliance and resourcefulness. Taking charge of her family's finances alongside her ailing mother, she navigates the complexities of a patriarchal society with grace and resilience.

 

But she is more than that - Cecilia is a beacon of compassion and empathy, driven not only by her own survival but also by a deep-seated desire to uplift and empower other women facing similar challenges. Despite the weight of her responsibilities, Cecilia remains steadfast in her commitment to helping those in need, forming alliances with like-minded individuals who share her plight.

 

As her mother's health deteriorates and their secrets teeter on the brink of exposure, Cecilia finds herself thrust into an increasingly precarious situation. With so much at stake and the odds seemingly stacked against her, she grapples with the daunting prospect of securing a future for herself and her family.

 

His Grace is still abroad,” Miss Bening said a little too curtly. “And Lady Cecilia remained in Germany as well. Unfortunately, her health is even more fragile than Her Grace’s.”

Elias sensed Miss Bening did not like him at all and was also hiding something. Something important. He prided himself on his ability to read a person and figure them out—discover the truths they didn’t wish to share. Master Hodgely had often remarked that that was one of Elias’s most exemplary talents. He looked forward to discovering the real Miss Bening.

 

Lord Elias Raines enters their lives and brings forth a dynamic new element fraught with tension and intrigue. As the newest partner at the esteemed law firm of Parkerton, Hodgely, and Kane, Elias Raines commands attention and respect, his keen intellect and shrewd instincts making him a formidable solicitor.

 

Greyson portrays Elias as a man of paradoxes, caught between duty and desire, loyalty and suspicion. Despite his rising suspicions regarding the Tuttcliffe family's secrets, Elias finds himself drawn to Cecilia with an intensity that defies reason. As their burgeoning relationship develops despite all the ongoing deceit and uncertainty, the author beautifully navigates the delicate balance between love and betrayal, trust and deception.

 

Elias' backstory adds an interesting complexity to his character, shedding light on the formative experiences that have shaped his worldview. From the shadow of his illustrious brother, the Duke of Almsbury, his neglectful upbringing, Elias grapples with the ghosts of his past. Through Elias Raines, Greyson explores themes of power, privilege, and the fragile nature of trust in a world rife with deception. As Elias confronts the moral implications of his burgeoning feelings for Cecilia, he is forced to confront the realities of his own privilege.

 

As mentioned earlier, Cecilia's mother's health takes a turn for the worse and she longs for one final visit to her cherished London. In a daring move, Cecilia assumes the role of her mother's companion, risking exposure of their carefully guarded secret. Meanwhile, Lord Elias Raines is tasked with handling the affairs of the Duke of Hasterton, and Elias stumbles upon discrepancies in the Duke's file, sparking his suspicions. Despite his unanswered inquiries, Elias's discovery of the Duke's mother in London presents an opportunity to unravel the truth behind the Tuttcliffe family's facade.

 

The story's unique premise draws readers in, as Celia's struggle to invent a male relative for survival leads to her digging a hole that gets progressively deeper. Elias, despite being an intelligent solicitor, finds himself entangled in Celia's subterfuge, torn between his duty to uncover her secrets and his desire to protect her. Celia's fear of exposure and longing for connection are palpable. Despite their mutual desire, barriers continually push Elias away, leading to passionate clashes between them. The conflict is further enriched by Elias's integrity and troubled past, as well as societal constraints on women at the time.

 

Supporting characters like Monty and Celia's mother add warmth and depth to the narrative, making for an engaging read filled with unexpected twists and turns. Charles, another compelling character, complements Cecilia with his own intelligence and fortitude. Their chemistry is palpable, evolving from an initial spark to a deeper connection, adding depth to the narrative.

 

As Elias delves into the puzzle of Celia, he navigates her defenses while grappling with his own suspicions. Meanwhile, Celia remains steadfast in guarding her heart and secrets. The fate of Thea hangs in the balance as Elias seeks to uncover the truth behind the hidden agenda. But as tensions rise and secrets surface, it becomes clear that there are others who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

 

We will reveal your identity to the world and marry as she wishes. Your brother will continue his travels on the Continent.” He towered over her and shook his finger. “And we will be perceived as the epitome of a happy, loving couple—until Her Grace leaves this world and is laid to rest beside her husband in Germany.”

And then you will turn me over to the authorities and claim you never discovered the scheme until Mama died, and I confessed that Charles did not exist.” Celia glared at him, clenching her teeth until her jaw ached. Elias was a hellhound of the worst sort to offer such a hardhearted plan, but it would protect Mama. “Fine. I will do so to protect the happiness of my mother’s last days.”

Fine,” he said, looking ready to spit.

 

The meat of the story revolves around Cecilia’s evolving relationship with Lord Elias and the Tuttcliffe family’s intricate web of lies. As Elias grapples with his feelings for Cecilia while wrestling with suspicions about her family, their connection fuels the story with a blend of longing and uncertainty. Elias finds himself drawn to Celia, offering her safety and protection in exchange for the truth. Despite their mutual attraction, Celia is hesitant to reveal her deepest secrets and fears. Elias faces a dilemma: whether to aid Celia and her mother in preserving secrets they've guarded for years. In a world where the odds are stacked against them, the characters must find innovative ways to persevere. And Celia certainly rises to the occasion.

 

Both the protagonists and the supporting characters in this book are truly remarkable, showcasing their cleverness and insight throughout the well-written and intricately plotted narrative. What begins as a simple fraud scheme escalates into something much larger, largely driven by Elias, who initially threatened to expose Celia's deception and see her punished. However, his love for her complicates matters, leading him to search for a way they can be together without facing dire consequences.

 

Elias confides in his older brother, a duke known for his cunning intellect. Together, they manipulate circumstances to achieve their desired outcomes. The book excels in its execution, maintaining excellent pacing as the story unfolds. Overall, it's a standout read, masterfully crafted and thoroughly engaging.

What really stands out in this book is the wonderful cast of characters, each with their own complexities and motivations. From Cecilia’s loyal allies to Elias’ enigmatic brother, the author has created a world brimming with intrigue and suspense.

 

Greyson’s writing elegantly captures the essence of Regency England, transporting readers to a time of opulence and romance. The story cleverly challenges societal norms, portraying strong and independent women ahead of their time. The characters, flawed yet compelling, keep readers guessing until the end. With numerous twists and turns, the story keeps you on the edge of your seat. Fans of the popular Bridgerton series will find Maeve Grayson's work highly recommended. With its blend of intrigue, romance, and strong, independent characters, it offers a fresh and engaging take on historical fiction.


*****


“To Steal a Duke” by Maeve Grayson receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company


Award:


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To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please visit www.thehistoricalfictioncompany.com/book-awards/award-submission


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