When the Duke Was Wicked

Avon. (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Bk. 1). Mar. 2014. 369p. ISBN 9780062276223. pap. $7.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062276230. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Just 19, Lady Grace Mabry, the daughter of the Duke of Greystone, has only one requirement of a suitor worthy of her hand and her not insignificant dowry: he must truly love her. But it's not an easy thing to discern. The only person she can go to for advice is her friend the Duke of Lovingdon. She was quite enamored of Lovingdon when she was a child, and now two years after the death of his wife and daughter, though Lovingdon thinks fondly of Grace, he will never again know love. Instead, he loses himself in women, drink, and cards and has no use for society. Yet he is honest with Grace about the signs she should be looking for in a prospective husband, and he somehow manages to display each one. Can his emotional scars and her physical ones cancel each other out?
VERDICT This first title in a new series from Heath (She Tempts the Duke) is exquisitely rendered, with two friends parrying and deflecting in order to protect themselves from pain and heartbreak. Featuring couples revived from the author's "Scoundrels of St. James" series, this fully fleshed romance will stay with readers long after the final page.
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