He never thought he'd become a duke, or that the secrets of his past would cost him his greatest love...
Raphe Matthews hasn’t stepped foot in polite circles since a tragedy left his once-noble family impoverished and in debt. The bare-knuckle boxer has spent the last fifteen years eking out an existence for himself and his two sisters. But when a stunning reversal of fortune lands Raphe the title of Duke of Huntley, he’s determined to make a go of becoming a proper lord, but he’ll need a little help, and his captivating neighbor might be just the woman for the job…
After her sister’s scandalous match, Lady Gabriella knows the ton’s eyes are on her. Agreeing to tutor the brutish new duke can only lead to ruin. Although she tries to control her irresistible attraction to Raphe, every day she spends with him only deepens her realization that this may be the one man she cannot do without. And as scandal threatens to envelop them both, she must decide if she can risk everything for love with a most unlikely duke.
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Each new book I read from Sophie Barnes just gets better and better
Each new book I read from Sophie Barnes just gets better and better, when you take an impoverished heir to a dukedom who has struggled to provide for himself and his sister, and avoid the tonne at all costs. Ralphe took his sisters’ welfare into his own hands after his parent’s death. He’s been fighting as a bare-knuckle boxer and while he doesn’t love the life, he’s able to keep a roof over their heads, feed them and keep them reasonably safe. He’s been managing to care for everyone since the age of eight – and while his life has been hard, the tragedy of losing one of his sisters eats at him daily – spurring him onward. Now he’s been sought out and handed the title that was due him – although he wants little to do with it. Fortunately, although the money is tight, the title does come with a home, and one that they move right into.
Gabriella is the sister who must make a match to quiet the gossips after her sister absconded with “the wrong sort of man”. Browbeaten into encouraging the ‘proper’ sort of man, her first introduction to Ralphe is when he and his sister are mistaken for the help entering a Duke’s home improperly. While Gabriella notes the sister’s sweetness and Ralphe’s obvious protective nature toward them, her companion (and her mother’s choice for her husband) is aggressively rude, and directly contrasts with her quieter nature. When her mother insists that they pay a call on the “new” Duke, Gabriella is intrigued by the story behind the sudden inheritance, and finds his sisters will need her help to avoid the worst of society’s censure.
So perfectly lovely –as Gabriella quietly and secretly helps Ralphe’s sisters, giving them ‘lessons in being a lady”, she learns of Ralphe’s story: his protective nature, his willingness to do everything for his sisters to kep them safe and she is drawn to his nature, despite her mother’s wishes. And for Ralphe: not wanting the title, not being comfortable in society, and having committed to a situation that could, now with the title, bring down the world on their heads: a situation he’s willing to endure. Together the two of them show just how perfectly suited and matched they are: with Gabriella’s belief in him he is willing to take on all comers to grasp for a dream he never thought possible. Wonderful characters, great development and solid situations that range from tragic to merely difficult, the story is a wonderful introduction to this couple and a new series.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Worth a read!
This story was a great departure from a standard Regency romance. Sophie Barnes created loveable characters with flaws, making them exceedingly relatable. The plot was strong, and the tension between Raphe and Gabriella was the perfect amount. Well done, Ms. Barnes. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.