Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 6th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
A proper English wife, or the freedom of the sea?Lord James Gresham is the fifth son of the Duke of Langford, a captain in the Royal Navy, and at a loss for what to do next. He's made his fortune; perhaps now he should find a proper wife and set up his nursery. But the sea calls to him, while his search for a wife leaves him uninspired. And then, a dark beauty with a heart for revenge is swept into his life.
He can't have both, but he won't give up eitherHalf-English, half-Polynesian Kawena Benson is out to avenge her father and reclaim a cache of stolen jewels. There's nothing for James to do but protest his innocence and help Kawena search for the jewels, even though it turns his world upside down.
Praise for Heir to the Duke:"Engaging characters, plenty of passion, and a devastating secret in this heartwarming read." -RT Book Reviews, 4 stars"Fabulous romance with wonderful characters...I couldn't put this book down." -Night Owl Reviews, Reviewer Top Pick
¬¬Reviewed by AnnMarie¬¬
What the Duke Doesn’t Know is the second book in the ‘Duke’s Sons’ series by Jane Ashford. I haven’t read the first book in the series, so can say that this book can be read as a stand alone one.
This is the story of the fifth son of the Duke of Langford, Lord James Gresham. He finds himself with time on his hands when his ship is taken out of commission and he, like many other Navy men, are waiting for new postings. He loves the Navy and life at sea, but he also appreciates that the time might be right for him to settle down and find a wife. He jokingly asks his sister-in-law to start introducing him to possible brides for him, proper English ladies of course.
During a visit with his brother and sister-in-law, he has his first introduction to a possible bride. But any interest he might have had in her soon disappears when he meets Kawena Benson. It’s not your usual first meeting. Kawena is dressed as a boy and comes hurtling into the garden pointing a pistol at James. She is hell bent on justice from him, although he has no idea what he is supposed to have done. When he sees the ‘boy’ with the pistol, he tackles him to the ground, which is where he gets his first inkling that Kawena is all woman, not a young boy as he first thought.
When he realises that Kawena is a woman, and pays proper attention to her face, he realises just how beautiful she is and he is instantly captivated. She is the daughter of an English gentleman and his Polynesian wife. Although she has been brought up knowing of English customs, she is very much her mother’s daughter and much prefers the ways of her home. She believes in saying what she wants, acting on impulse, and not giving any thought to what people think of her or her actions. She wouldn’t have left her home and it’s easier way of life at all except for her urgency to find the man who has stolen her inheritance, and to get it back.
It soon becomes apparent to her that James hasn’t stolen the bag of jewels that her father kept instead of cash. Jewels that were to be hers after her father passed away. But as they lived on an island that only had ships call into port to trade there, and as James’ ship was the only one in port around the time of the theft, Kawena is certain that if not James, then somebody from his ship is the thief. James can’t believe any of his men would have stolen anything from the island, in fact none of them were even allowed ashore. But to settle his mind, and to help Kawena, he offers to track down his men and question them about the theft.
Kawena insists on accompanying James on his travels to find them. Since the ship was decommissioned the crew have all gone their separate ways, but luckily they aren’t spread too far and wide. During their travels together, James finds out more about Kawena, and the more he finds, the more he likes. He is very attracted to her, and it seems Kawena feels the same way. When things get intimate between the couple, James feels honour bound to do the right thing and proposes to her. The only problem is that Kawena knows that James wants a ‘proper’ English wife, and she is far from what society calls proper. She doesn’t want to be proper either. She just wants to get her jewels back and go home. So to his shock, she turns him down.
Do they discover the jewels, and if they do, what is to become of Kawena and James? Should Kawena prove to James that she can be a ‘proper’ lady, but if she does, she won’t be being herself. As for James, does he even realise that Kawena might have the wrong end of the stick about his expectations. This is surely a case of both of them needing to be open with each other. James doesn’t even know what he wants, he knows he wants Kawena, but can he settle down. He longs for the sea, but if he gets another commission it means he will be away from Kawena for years. What is the man to do?
I loved this story, though at times I just wanted to knock James and Kawena’s heads together. They were so in lust/love with each other but were too busy doing the right thing, or saying the right thing, to let each other know the true score. I loved their romance, albeit a frustrating one, and I loved the search for the jewels and their subsequent discovery! And I absolutely loved the ending of the book, it was just perfect and definitely counts as a very happy ever after for our couple!
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.