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Dear Lady Truelove . . . I have fallen in love, truly and completely in love, for the first time. The man whom I hold in such passionate regard, however, is not of my station. He is a painter, a brilliant artist. Needless to say, my family would not approve . . .
Henry, Duke of Torquil, wouldn’t be caught reading the wildly popular “Dear Lady Truelove” column, but when its advice causes his mother to embark on a scandalous elopement, an outraged Henry decides the author of this tripe must be stopped before she can ruin any more lives. Though Lady Truelove’s identity is a closely guarded secret, Henry has reason to suspect the publisher of the notorious column, beautiful and provoking Irene Deverill, is also its author.
For Irene, it’s easy to advise others to surrender to passion, but when she meets the Duke of Torquil, she soon learns that passion comes at a price. When one impulsive, spur-of-the-moment kiss pulls her into a scorching affair with Henry, it could destroy her beloved newspaper, her career, and her independence. But in the duke’s arms, surrender is so, so sweet . . .
Henry, the Duke of Torquil has a problem. His mother is set to marry a younger man not of her class—an artist!—and a fortune hunter. It’s his job to put a stop to this insanity. He has sisters to think of. Plus Henry has his own very personal reasons for preventing such an unsuitable marriage from taking place.
This is when we discover that our hero isn’t as hard-hearted as he first appears. In his initial meeting with Irene Deverill, “Lady Truelove”, our intrepid heroine and the advice columnist who advises the Duchess to follow her heart, he comes off as a terrible snob.
She tilted her head, studying him thoughtfully. “Why do you consider that your mother’s marriage be a mistake?”
He stirred, growing impatient, for he was not here to answer questions, but obtain answers. “It is not surprising, I suppose, that someone of low social position would fail to understand why this elopement would be disastrous, but that makes it no less so.”
Yes, he’s a duke and I would expect him to be conscious of his rank and position in society, so I wasn’t turned off by it. The thought of watching him fall for Irene—a tradesman’s daughter—made me smile. **Spoiler?** But another layer to his objection and disapproval to his mother marrying Foscarelli is his first marriage to Elene, a most unsuitable future duchess. The lust and infatuation between them died quickly leaving nothing but regret on both their parts. Henry won’t make the same mistake again nor does he want his mother to follow in his footsteps.
It was nice to have that backstory. As I stated above, it made him not as hard-hearted as I originally thought. Although I’m not sure that experience would have changed the way I felt about him all that much. I don’t mind an overbearing hero as long as he’s matched with an equally independent, in-your-face, won’t-back-down heroine, which is precisely what Irene is.
Irene is running her father’s newspaper. She’s the one who saved it from going belly up. Her father drinks too much and wasn’t managing it right. She took over and now it’s profitable and she’s able to take care of her family. She made some changes—give the readers what sells—which included a gossip column and an advice column. What she couldn’t have imagined happening was that one of Lady Truelove’s columns attract the attention of the Duke of Torquil. In his belief that she has influence on his mother, he sort of blackmails her into undoing what she did with her initial advice.
Ah yes, blackmail. Such a lovely thing for any romance. Thrown together in confines of his home, the two share barbs (at first) and at physical attraction. I loved watching their growing sexual awareness as they got to know each other. It doesn’t happen quickly so don’t be in a rush. Henry is especially reluctant to give in to his attraction. But when they do, they do with a gusto! But even then, an HEA for them is hardly a guarantee. There are many obstacles they must to overcome. Minds aren’t changed overnight. Not even close. And then of course, there’s the matter of the duchess marrying the Italain fortune hunter. Will she or won’t she? Should she or shouldn’t she? I don’t know there’s a black or white answer to that one...
Of course, since this is a romance, Henry and Irene get their HEA, but not before making readers squirm and sweat just a little bit. But you know that’s why we read romance. That’s exactly what we love about it. ;)