Published by Avon on November 29th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney returns with the first novel in a new series about dashing, charismatic dukes—and the women who tame them…
Though raised as a gentleman’s daughter, Lorna Gordon is obliged to take a position as an upstairs maid at Blackhall Castle when her father dies. Alex Russell, the Duke of Kinross, is the most tempting man she’s ever seen—and completely unattainable—until, at a fancy dress ball, Lorna disguises herself as Marie Antoinette and pursues an illicit tryst…with scandalous consequences.
Months after his mysterious seductress disappears, Alex encounters her again. Far from the schemer the distrustful duke assumed her to be, Lorna is fiercely independent and resourceful. She’s the one woman capable of piercing his defenses. But when danger threatens Lorna, Alex must prove himself not just the lover of her fantasies, but the man who will fight to protect her.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Due to pecuniary woes, Lorna Gordon had to seek a position, and she has been a maid at Blackhall Castle for the past two years. All that time, she has been lusting after Alex Russell, the duke of Kinross. She contemplates him in secret, and Lorna is quite enamoured of the very handsome duke, as are every female of the staff. She has been saving her money to attend a masked ball that will be held at the Castle, in hope of meeting and getting acquainted with the duke, and hope no one discovers who she is. Her best friend Nan, also a maid, had advised Lorna against doing such a foolish thing. Alex is angry because he felt he should have earned a medal from the Scottish Society for Scientific Achievement for his work with fingerprinting, but it was not to be, and so the surly duke intends to get thoroughly soused. He’s well on his way to oblivion, when he sees a gorgeous woman dressed as Marie Antoinette, and he saunters her way. And they get much, much better acquainted indeed!
And THE SCOTTISH DUKE did not go as expected, but not at all! Ms. Ranney has penned a most extraordinary romance, that has more to do with the classics – except for the sex scenes – than with most historical romances on the market. Alex and Lorna are both extremely interesting characters: Lorna is fearless, accepts the consequences of her actions – good or bad; she goes with the flow, and I, just as Nan, thought Lorna was quite foolish, but it’s her strength of character that made her so captivating. Alex brandishes his title as a weapon, he hides behind it as if it were a shield. Lorna is brave, while Alex is self-absorbed, aloof, and rather unsympathetic at first glance; let’s be honest: he’s a coward. Alex is especially afraid of feeling, of truly living, while Lorna wants to feel, needs to feel, and what a couple they make!
THE SCOTTISH DUKE is rather slow-paced, but by no means is it slow: the author takes the time needed for the relationship to evolve, for the characters to grow, and I thought it wonderful that both characters were intellectuals, as Lorna is working on a book by her late father. When I saw the blurb, and at the very beginning of the book, I thought THE SCOTTISH DUKE was to be a pleasant and somewhat mindless piece of enjoyable froth, and it is anything but. It’s somewhat of a Victorian twist on a one-night stand, and so, so much more. THE SCOTTISH DUKE is a wonderful story about being human, about letting oneself live, and accepting the consequences of one’s follies. THE SCOTTISH DUKE is a mesmerising story, superbly told, I was thrilled with the care Karen Ranney treated the subject, and made familiar tropes gloriously new and realistic.
If Lorna and Alex are exceptional characters, they are not the only ones: Nan, Lorna’s friend is wonderful, the Dowager duchess of Kinross is superb, as are Mary – Alex’s sister-in-law, and Matthews, Alex’s valet, and let’s not forget Thomas, Alex’s uncle, whom I seriously hope to see again in a future book. In turn, every character surprises us. THE SCOTTISH DUKE is an exceptional book that should be read by anyone who enjoys historical romance that is strongly anchored in facts, and Karen Ranney did an admirable job of entertaining me, and making me think at the same time.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.