Published by Avon on October 31st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney’s third book in her Duke series spins the tale of a reluctant duke who must choose between his life in America—and the Scottish woman he’s destined to love…
As the ward to the late Duke of Lothian, Elsbeth Carew resides at the ancestral estate of Bealadair. Fiercely attached to the manor, she loves it more than anyone else. When Connor McCraight—the new Duke of Lothian—arrives, Elsbeth does not quite know what to make of the American who has inherited the title but has never even set foot on Scottish soil. The tall, ruggedly handsome Texan sweeps through Bealadair with an air of authority Elsbeth has never encountered.
Connor has no intention of making Scotland his home and hopes to sell the estate as soon as possible. But his plan is jeopardized when he meets Elsbeth. A sweet, gray-eyed beauty, she tempts him in ways no other woman has. As word spreads of Connor’s intention to sell Bealadair, his life is threatened—and the only woman who can save him may be the one he has hopelessly lost his heart to.
Everything was being readied for the man in the carriage approaching the long drive.
Would he care? Would he even notice?
The blowing snow obscured everything but the yellow glow of the carriage lanterns.
None of it belonged to them anymore. It was all owned by the man who would soon emerge from the carriage, the same man who could so easily wave his hand and banish them.
She shivered, wishing she had been able to wear her cloak. And a scarf around her throat. And a hat pulled over her hair. She couldn’t feel her lips or her fingertips.
People were stamping their feet against the packed snow of the drive and wrapping their arms around themselves. She could see plumes of their breath against the night sky.
Didn’t Rhona notice that everyone was about to freeze to death?
Sometimes, she thought that Rhona forgot that the people who staffed Bealadair were human beings. A great many of her dictates didn’t make sense. Yesterday she’d given an order that the laundress was to starch all the maids’ aprons and today no one was to sit or otherwise crease their uniforms until the duke arrived. You could either do the job you were supposed to do or you could walk around acting like a marionette.
Rhona made decisions like that, making changes that weren’t the least practical. A few months ago she’d given an order that all of the maids were to have their hair arranged in the same fashion, in an overly intricate braided bun. It took so long for the girls to arrange their hair that way that Elsbeth had countermanded Rhona’s orders, more than willing to go to battle for the staff. Fortunately, the Duchess hadn’t noticed.
Rhona liked to issue decrees. She made pronouncements, waved her hand in the air like a queen, and demanded certain behaviors. Just as quickly, however, she forgot what she’d ordered.
Elsbeth had the feeling that Rhona really didn’t care. The Duchess just liked being obeyed, even if it was only momentarily. Elsbeth took great pains to ensure that Rhona got that impression, even if it wasn’t exactly correct.
In the past year, she’d taken on the duty of housekeeper. Mrs. Ferguson had increasingly incapacitating arthritis. It was easier for the poor woman to remain in her quarters than it was to traverse the many staircases of Bealadair.
None of the family had any objections to Elsbeth assuming the role. They wanted their meals on time, their suites kept clean and sparkling, and their lives not disrupted by petty things such as laundry, staffing expectations, and inconsequential details like leaky roofs.
As for Elsbeth, she enjoyed having something to do every day. Each evening she met with Mrs. Ferguson, consulting the woman over the tasks that needed to be done. The housekeeper had been at Bealadair for over twenty years and knew the house as well as—if not more so—the McCraights. The woman was an organizational genius, acquiring details about the many collections housed at the estate from armaments to historical documents.
No doubt the new duke would want to know the extent of his inheritance. Thanks to Mrs. Ferguson, she could provide him with an exact inventory.
The carriage was turning into the drive. A stableboy ran out to steady the horses. A footman strode forward to open the carriage door.
Rhona stepped up, accompanied by her oldest daughter, Lara, and Lara’s husband, Felix.
Elsbeth was too far away to hear the duchess’s words, but they were probably those of welcome. Maybe the duchess said something in Gaelic, evoking Scottish sentiment. After all, the new duke was an American who needed to be educated on his Scottish heritage. At least that’s what she’d been told.
No one had ever spoken of this unknown nephew. Until Mr. Glassey had sent back word from America, they had expected that the 14th Duke of Lothian and the Laird of Clan McCraight would be Gavin’s brother.
This man who stepped down from the carriage was a complete mystery.
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Connor McCraight is on his way to Bealadair, in the Highlands, in January. The Texan is bored, restless, grumpy, and so cold. Connor hadn’t known about relatives in Scotland, and certainly not that he was now a Duke. His reception at the estate is even colder than the weather: the staff and the Dowager Duchess and her three daughters fear they will be thrown out when THE TEXAN DUKE assumes his title. Connor wants only to sell everything and go back to Texas, although the lovely, and welcoming, substitute housekeeper Elsbeth Carew catches his eye. Elsbeth is something of a poor relation, although she will have the means to seek shelter elsewhere if the new Duke does indeed evict them all. But he is a handsome one, that peculiar stranger…
THE TEXAN DUKE is a lovely variation on the opposites attract theme. Connor is well out of his element, but he remains sweet and charming to everyone who deserves it, and few people are happy with his presence and what it entails. I loved how Ms. Ranney made me see the situation – and Scotland – through Elsbeth and Connor’s perspectives; the descriptions are breathtaking and could well imagine myself in the Highlands, and I did feel the cold! Connor doesn’t take to well to the class distinctions, which was very entertaining, except for this ubiquitous anachronism of having the Duke calling the housekeeper Mabel, while everyone else calls her Mrs. Ferguson; this is impolite, even by today’s standards, and even worse, having Mrs. Ferguson calling him Connor; since it is unfortunately all too common in historical romance, I did not take it into consideration in my rating.
Karen Ranney writes superb secondary characters, even minor ones: I thought Mr. Stuyvesant was adorable! But oh the deviousness, the machinations, the pettiness of some of those aristocrats! THE TEXAN DUKE was a fabulous read until it hit the three-quarter mark, and that’s when a whole star fell. Connor and Elsbeth were obviously attracted to each other, had shared a few kisses, and all of a sudden Elsbeth became consumed by a raging desire and a blazing passion for Connor that seemed to come out of nowhere. It felt as if one or two chapters of lusting after and longing were missing and to have a pretext to insert a couple of sex scenes, which were unnecessary given that there really was no build-up to speak of. Some of what is to follow might sound a bit cryptic, but it’s all in the name of not giving away spoilers: although I intensely dislike miscommunications misunderstandings, a suggestion that was made to Elsbeth should have provoked some negative reaction from Connor, but nothing happened and it felt a bit odd. Then Elsbeth started acting all out of character, rather irrationally, without any reason, not even for storyline purposes; it could have been easily worked out otherwise. Also, a character did a complete one-eighty when encountering a fetching “pair of trousers”; said character could have written slightly otherwise at the beginning without any major changes to the story.
Elsbeth was wonderful until her moment of literary insanity, but Connor was truly a marvellous hero: he is not a womaniser, he admires and respects Elsbeth for who she is and what she is; he remained splendid until the very end. The mystery was also quite clever, as someone is trying to get rid of Connor, and this was very well done, as I had a few suspects in mind, and I really didn’t know who was the villain; I was a bit perplexed at the resolution, but then again, it was logical considering the people involved. It’s really too bad that some seams unravelled towards the end, because before that, the story is really gorgeous and enchanting, and Connor is a dream!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.