Published by Forever on November 6, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes introduces us to the unconventional Wentworth family in this charming Regency romance with a Cinderella twist.
A funny thing happened on the way to the gallows...One minute, London banker Quinn Wentworth is facing execution. The next, he's declared the long-lost heir to a dukedom. Quinn has fought his way up from the vilest slums, and now he's ready to use every dirty trick he knows to find the enemy who schemed against him.
There was just one tiny problem...Jane Winston, the widowed, pregnant daughter of a meddlesome prison preacher, crosses paths with Quinn in jail. Believing his days are numbered, Quinn offers Jane marriage as a way to guarantee her independence and provide for her child. Neither thinks they'll actually have a future together.
They were wrong.He's a wealthy gutter rat out for vengeance. She's a minister's daughter who must turn a marriage of desperation into a proper ducal union. Are they doomed from the start or destined for a happily-ever-after?
Quinn Wentworth is a successful London banker one day, and a convicted felon the next. He’s in Newgate prison awaiting execution when matters take an interesting turn…
A woman—a lady—entered the cell. She was tall, dark-haired, and her attire was plain to a fault.
Not a criminal, then. A crusader.
“Bascomb,” Quinn said to the guard. “My quarters are not Newgate’s family parlor. The lady can wait elsewhere.” He bowed to the woman.
She surprised him by dropping into a graceful curtsy. “I must wait somewhere, Mr. Wentworth. Papa will be forever in the common wards, and I do not expect to be entertained. I am Jane Winston.”
She was bold, as most crusaders were. Also pretty. Her features were Madonna-perfect, from a chin neither receding nor prominent, to exquisitely arched brows, a wide mouth, high forehead, and intelligent dark eyes. The cameo was marred by a nose a trifle on the confident side, which made her face more interesting. She wore a voluminous cloak of charcoal gray, bits of straw clinging to the hem.
“As you can see,” Quinn replied, “we are a company of gentlemen here, and an unchaperoned lady would not be comfortable in our midst.”
The warden snickered. “Wait here or leave the premises, ma’am. Them’s your choices, and you don’t get a say, Wentworth. I don’t care if you was banker to King George himself.”
As long as Quinn drew breath he had a say. “I am convicted of taking an innocent life, Miss Winston. Perhaps you might see fit to excuse yourself now?”
He wanted her to leave because she was an inconvenient reminder of life beyond a death sentence, where women were pretty, regrets were a luxury, and money meant more than pewter tankards and a useless writing desk.
And Quinn wanted her to stay. Jane Winston was pleasing to look at, had the courage of her convictions, and had probably never committed anything approaching a crime. She’d doubtless sinned in her own eyes—coveting a second rum bun, lingering beneath warm covers for an extra quarter hour on the Sabbath. Heinous transgressions in her world.
He also wanted her to stay because frightening the people around him had stopped amusing him before he’d turned twelve. Even Ned didn’t turn his back on Quinn for more than an instant, and Davies remained as close to the unlocked door as possible without giving outright offense. The wardens were careful not to be alone with Quinn, and the whores offered their services with an air of nervous bravado.
Miss Winston’s self-possession wafted on the air like expensive perfume. Confident, subtle, unmistakable.
“If a mere boy can break bread with you, then I don’t have much to fear,” she said, “and my father will expect me to wait for him. Papa is easily vexed. Do you have a name, child?”
Ned remained silent, sending a questioning glance at Quinn.
“He is Edward, of indeterminate surname,” Quinn said. “Make your bow, Ned.”
Ned had asked Quinn to teach him this nicety and grinned at a chance to show off his manners. “Pleased to meet you, Miss Winston.”
“I’ll be leaving,” the guard said. “You can chat about the weather over tea and crumpets until…” He grinned, showing brown, crooked teeth. “Until next Monday.”
“Prison humor.” Miss Winston stripped off her gloves. Kid, mended around the right index finger. The stitching was almost invisible, but a banker learned to notice details of dress. “I might be here for a good while. Shall you regale me with a tale about what brought you to this sorry pass, Mr. Wentworth?”
The lady took the seat Ned had vacated, and she looked entirely at ease, her cloak settling around her like an ermine cape.
“You don’t read the papers?” Quinn asked.
“Papa would have apoplexies if he caught me reading that drivel. We have souls to save.”
“I don’t think I’d like your father. Might I have a seat?” Because—for reasons known only to the doomed—Quinn wanted to sit down with her.
“This is your abode. Of course, you should have a seat. You need not feed me or offer me drink. I’m sure you can better use your provisions for bribes. I can read to you from the Bible or quote at tiresome length from Fordyce’s Sermons if you like.”
“I do not like,” Quinn said, slicing off a portion of cheese. He was a convicted felon, but he was a convicted felon who’d taken pains to learn the manners of his betters. Then too, somebody had to set an example for the boy. Quinn managed to cut off a slice of bread with the penknife and passed the bread and cheese to Miss Winston.
She regarded his offering with a seriousness the moment did not warrant. “You can spare this? You can honestly spare this?”
“I will be grievously offended if you disdain my hospitality,” Quinn said. “Had I known you were coming, I’d have ordered the kitchen to use the good silver.”
Ned cast him a nervous glance, but Miss Winston caught the joke. Her smile was utterly unexpected. Instead of a prim, nipfarthing little pinch of the lips, she grinned at Quinn as if he’d inspired her to hilarity in the midst of a bishop’s sermon. Her gaze warmed, her shoulders lifted, her lips curved with glee.
“The everyday will do splendidly,” she said, accepting her portion of the humble fare. “So whom are you supposed to have killed?”
For your chance of winning this fabulous prize, Grace wants to know…
How does somebody make you feel welcome? How can they make you feel unwelcome, even when you’ve been invited?
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Quinn Wentworth was to be hanged that Monday for manslaughter, but due to circumstances, he got a short reprieve. He had accepted his fate but was feeling melancholy, when Jane Winston appeared in his cell. Jane is accompanying her father, the visiting preacher. Jane is doing her duty, then she and Quinn start talking. When he learns of Jane’s dire situation – a widow with a babe on the way and no money to speak of – Quinn knows he can pose one last gesture for a person in need: he will provide for her and her unborn child by marrying her. Then Quinn’s destiny is shockingly altered: the boy who grew up in York’s slums is now the Duke of Walden! He is a free man, now a married one as well, but the most important thing has not been taken care of: finding who wanted Quinn permanently out of the way.
MY ONE AND ONLY DUKE is the spectacular start of Grace Burrowes new Rogues to Riches series, and it promises to be epic. From the first pages, I was mesmerised by Ms. Burrowes dazzling and exquisite prose, and it felt like I had been transported through time than reading an oeuvre written by a contemporary author. The narrative is highlighted by the delicious humour and wit, and the brilliant and witty dialogues. The plot is riveting and flawlessly structured, and lovely period details, meticulous research, and historical accuracy add additional layers to this fabulous story. Quinn and Jane are marvellous, so vibrant and alive, and exceedingly complex characters. Their strength and loyalty know no bound, and they never ceased to surprise and delight me, especially Jane. Both are reasonable, engaging, and very determined people, and one of my favourite couples ever. The romance progressed organically, and quite different than the usual marriage of convenience; it was utterly delicious and absolutely convincing.
MY ONE AND ONLY DUKE also features several marvellous secondary characters, amongst them other Wentworth siblings and relatives; Quinn’s banker partner Joshua Penrose and newly acquired staff – and that was one brilliant and inspired touch! Let’s not forget the mystery part of this superb book, which had me guessing all the way to the end: it was far from obvious who the villain was. We always expect excellence from Grace Burrowes, and she never lets us down: MY ONE AND ONLY DUKE is Regency romance at its finest. And the icing on this scrumptious cake is the gift of a novella by Elizabeth Hoyt: Once upon a Christmas Eve!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.