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.
Ranney's first Dukes romance sets a riveting fairy tale story in a beautiful castle in the Scottish Highlands in 1861. Lorna Gordon has been working as a maid at Blackhall Castle since the death of her father, a botanist. After seeing Alexander Russell, the ninth Duke of Kinross, at a distance, she is determined to interact with him as a guest at his costume ball. Once she's disguised as Marie Antoinette, Lorna easily attracts Alex's attention. After a sizzling encounter that neither of them expected, Lorna feels disillusioned about the man whom she has worshipped from afar, while he thinks of her as manipulative. Their circumstances change, they meet again, and they begin to overcome their differences and misconceptions. The development of their romance is intense and captivating as Alex and Lorna discover mutual passion and learn that love makes them stronger together than apart. This promising series inception is sure to garner attention from fans of historicals, who will want to follow up with future series installments.
we think we know the story…But we would be wrong
Lorna is a maid in Blackhall Castle, serving for the Duke of Kinross, Alex Russel. Raised as a gentleman’s daughter, with her father’s death came penury, and her desire to support herself and choose her own destiny helped place her in this circumstance. But she has long held a fancy for the Duke, as have most of the women in the surrounding area. A masquerade ball spurs a decision that will change Lorna’s life forever.
Alex is a wholly self-absorbed man, dedicated to his own work in fingerprinting, he’s angry and brooding over the lack of recognition granted him. Using his title as a shield to keep people at arm’s length, or providing him with his expected levels of deference, he’s hard to empathize with even as he intrigues with his intelligence.
Of course, we know that Lorna will be going to the ball in disguise, against all good sense and the desperate pleadings of her friend Nan. And it goes to reason that Alex will need to get to know her…from there we think we know the story…
But we would be wrong: it was so much better than what I could have expected. Ranney develops these characters slowly, and their relationship proceeds at a similar pace. Lorna is wonderfully intelligent and matter-of-fact, she accepts consequences and never overthinks the choices she has made. Her strength combines nicely with her good nature and solid self-esteem to make her a formidable opponent as Alex comes to see. For his part, he’s just a cowardly little boy building walls and using his title to keep others from seeing the true vulnerabilities. With Lorna’s need to embrace every situation and pull those she cares about along with her, he’s got little choice (and few skills) to stay out of her influence.
A wonderful story about learning to truly live and take chances, secure in the knowledge that you will always have one person standing by your side.
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.