The Day of the Duchess
Sarah MacLean     

Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel
Book: 3

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day...the day of the duchess.

***WARNING May Contain Spoilers***

I came into The Day of the Duchess blind. I haven’t read the prior books in the series (although now I must go back and catch up), but the blurb completely hooked me. Seraphina, the Duchess of Haven, has come back from being gone almost three years. She’s come back to obtain a divorce from Malcolm, the Duke of Haven. He has one stipulation, she has to find her own replacement.

Now, if that doesn’t hook you, I’m not sure what will.

The opening scene is splendid. The way she—a woman—marches into an exclusively masculine domain and onto the floors of the House of Lords and announces to Malcolm in front of his peers that she’s come for a divorce. I loved her spunk and his reaction.

Haven could see it then, the cause of the commotion A woman. Taller than any woman he’d ever known, in the most beautiful lavender dress he’d ever seen, perfectly turned out, as though she marched into parliamentary session on a regular basis. As though she were the prime minister himself. As though she were more than that. As though she was royalty.

The only woman he’d ever loved. The only woman he’d ever hated.

What you learn right away is that Malcolm has been looking for his wayward spouse the past two years and seven months. The poor man’s search has spanned continents and oceans. He’s as determined as ever to find her when she shows up in search of him. Too bad they’re at cross purposes in their respective searches.  

Sera’s father, the Earl of Wight’s, was a wealthy coal miner who bought himself a title. His five daughters are dubbed the Soiled S’s and looked down upon by Society. Sera makes Malcolm’s acquaintance at a ball. She’s beautiful, bold and forthright and he greatly admires that about her. The attraction between them is instant. Before he knows it he’s vowing to marry her—to himself, not her yet. What happens between them I’m going to blame on her mother. A social climber to be sure, eager—no desperate to marry her daughters to men of rank. While Sera and Malcolm have not-quite-discreet-enough assignations, tongues are wagging. Her mother convinces her that Haven won’t marry her and that she must take matters into her own hands to make it happen. For the sake of her sisters if not her own reputation. Sera succumbs and ends up entrapping the man she loves, and he despises her for it.

I felt so bad for Sera. She loves Malcolm and is devastated when he rejects her. Their marriage is over practically before it begins. And then she discovers she’s pregnant. Lord, that’s one of the most heartbreaking parts of the book. That flashback when she arrives at his house in labor. And the way his mother treats her. I was near tears during this flashback. The only thing that made it bearable for me was knowing how much pain Malcolm was in. Knowing he regretted how he’d treated her since their marriage.

But I did understand where Malcolm was coming from. When he first met Sera he was actually talking with his friend about his feelings about a love match for titled men like them. The probability of it happening? Zero to none as far as Malcolm is concerned. And then he meets Sera and everything changes so it’s understandable that he feels betrayed when he discovers she set out to trap him into marriage. Despite that, he can’t help his feelings for her. He wants her back and regrets telling her to go, which is why he searches for her for so long.

During the time they agree she find her replacement, they grow close. Did I mention she arrives at his place with reinforcement—her four sisters? Then there are the young ladies vying to replace her and their mothers. Yes, a houseful of women and him. But he has no intention of marrying any of them. He’s determined to get his wife back and for me, that’s what makes Malcolm a swoon-worthy hero. His determination. That he’s unabashed about it and we, the readers, know it. And watching them reunite is…magic. The feelings, the regret, the heat, the passion, it’s all there. Add to that, the writing is superb.

Second to Sera and Malcolm’s beautiful romance, is what happens between Caleb Calhoun (the American whom she met in America and now owns a club with Sera in London) and Sera’s sister, Sesily. Ms. MacLean gives you just enough of their interaction and sizzling physical attraction to leave you champing at the bit for their book. I cannot wait for it. Seriously can’t wait.

All in all, The Day of Duchess is now my favorite Sarah MacLean book and is going on my keeper shelf.

~ Beverley