on December 18, 2018
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An English war hero must unlock the secrets of an Irish beauty's heart...
Named for the heather in her native Ireland, Erica Burke is an aspiring botanist whose dearest wish is to travel to far-off locales. So far, she's only made it to England's Lake District. Stranded there by a storm, she finds the last thing she's looking for—dashing English war hero Major Tristan Laurens, the Duke of Rayhnam.
An unexpected heir, Tristan is torn between his duties as an intelligence officer and his responsibilities as a duke. A brief return home to set his affairs in order is extended by bad weather and worse news—someone has secret information about his latest mission. Could the culprit be his unconventional Irish guest? He needs to see her journal to be sure, and he'll do what he must to get his hands on it, even stage a wildly inappropriate courtship.
Erica wants nothing to do with an English soldier, and guards her journal as closely as she guards her heart. But though she makes Tristan's task infernally difficult, falling in love with her may be all too easy.
~~Reviewed by Bonnie~~
Major Tristan Laurens finds his career as an intelligence officer in the military fulfilling and rewarding. As the spare, he never expected or wanted to inherit the title of Duke of Raynham, but when his brother dies, that’s exactly what happens. As he reluctantly returns home, he stops to stay at the old gardener’s cottage on the property, trying to delay the inevitable for as long as possible. A fierce rainstorm finds a soaked and bedraggled young lady seeking shelter in the same cottage.
Erica Burke was traveling with her newlywed sister when she managed to get left behind at an inn after a stop during their journey. Not knowing what else to do, Erica trudges along on foot, when a torrential rain causes her to seek shelter in the first place she sees, which turns out to be the cottage where Tristan is staying. When they are able to leave, he takes her to his home, intending to notify her relatives of her location. The bad weather, however, has washed out the roads, making travel impossible. In fact, his stepmother has been hosting a party, and none of the guests are able to leave.
Tristan has been made aware that some confidential information about his activities has leaked out, and it’s suspected that someone in his household or circle may be a traitor. He’s naturally suspicious of the young Irish lady who unexpectedly shows up and acts very oddly. Also in the house is his best friend, David, who’s also an agent, his deceased brother’s fiancée, Caroline, and her parents, who seem determined that he assume his brother’s betrothal. No one is above suspicion, and Tristan wants to ferret out the informant as soon as possible so that his secret activities aren’t compromised. He still holds out hope that he can continue as an agent while holding a title.
Erica is genuinely an odd duck, seeming not to fit in anywhere. Her passion is botany, and her dream is to travel the world and sketch plants, something unheard of for a woman. Her mind wanders, she’s disordered, impulsive, and jumpy. She maintains a journal, which is constantly in her possession. In it, she includes her drawings as well as things that have happened to her. She has developed and uses her own code for her writings. I understand how important this journal is to her, but I found her reactions when others touched the journal to be really over the top. She forgets everyday things, even sometimes to eat. This made me suspect she had a mild attention disorder, though she had the ability to remain focused on her drawings for hours. I admit to not warming up to her right away, but I became more sympathetic when I became aware of her feelings of uselessness, unworthiness and not fitting in anywhere. Her passionate feelings for the duke take her by surprise, and she’s quite adamant that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a duchess.
Tristan is the polar opposite of Erica. He’s focused, organized, and controlled, but he feels a longing for Erica that goes beyond anything he’s felt before. He tries his best to be the gentleman, but the passion that springs up between him and Erica is strong enough to overrule his good intentions. It turns out that his ordered and controlling nature is just what Erica needs, while she adds unpredictability and excitement to his life. I love Tristan’s acceptance of all of Erica, and how he had no desire to change her or to care what anyone else thought. His protectiveness and love for Erica finally left her feeling that she truly belonged somewhere, and made for a fantastic romance. Tristan didn’t want to be a duke any more that Erica wants to be a duchess, but what they do want is to be together. I greatly enjoyed reading THE DUKE’S SUSPICION, which had a bit of intrigue to go along with two lost characters who find all the love and acceptance they need in each other.