15 October 2012

The Way to a Duke's Heart (The Truth About the Duke #3)

Summary from Goodreads:

Charles de Lacey, Lord Gresham, is running out of time, running from his responsibilities, and running from love.

Destined to be a duke, Charles de Lacey has led a life of decadent pleasure, free of any care for propriety or responsibility. It comes as a terrible shock to learn that he might be stripped of everything, thanks to his father's scandalous past. He has no choice but to find the blackmailer who would ruin him—and his only link to the villain is a woman who may be part of the plot…

To save his fortune and title, he vows he'll stop at nothing—in fact, he's all too eager to unravel the beautiful, tart-tongued Tessa Neville. She intrigues him and tempts him like no other lady ever has. With only his heart to guide him, and keenly aware that his entire future is at stake, Charles must decide: is she the woman of his dreams, or an enemy in disguise?

This was burning a hole in my NOOK whilst I read The Ugly Duchess (hey, Eloisa tweeted me, so she got to be first - I'm easy that way). Being a romance novel I had no doubt as to the outcome of the Durham Dilemma (duh) but I just wanted to know how it would all unwind as well as who Charlie would be paired with.

First off, I have to say I quite loved Tessa's companion/cousin, Eugenia Bates. Yes, Bates. Who has much the sweet, chatty, dithering demeanor of the Miss Bates of Austen's Emma - but not as annoying since we're not seeing her through Emma's eyes. And she has a taste for the luird Gothic novels of Mrs. Radcliff.

Second, I quite liked how Linden let us see how Charlie resented his younger brothers' freedom, just that little bit (Edward his facility in estate management and Gerard his fearless antics), and how he regretted that his break with their father had perhaps put the family in the situation of the Durham Dilemma (well, it would have been less-bad if Edward hadn't told his idiot fiancee at the beginning of One Night in London - but then he got Francesca and that was much better).

Third, Tessa is an excellent foil for Charlie. But she isn't set up as a paragon who is right all the time with regard to the business of the canal - she's allowed to have a failing or two.

But I do have a slight misgiving about the climax of the book and hence, spoiler warning (highlight to see text):

While I really appreciated the twist with Lord Worth - and the awful Maria as his wife - as the impetus for the blackmail scheme what I didn't appreciate was the scene with Maria before Charlie left the house and the he didn't explicitly tell Worth that he would have no claim on the child. Worth would always hate Charlie's guts, and Charlie didn't help himself there, but the least Charlie could do after explaining and apologizing was to say that he wouldn't ever contest the child's paternity. Or maybe he did and I missed it, I was pretty tired. And then Charlie should have got the hell out of the house rather than stay and discuss things with Maria - wouldn't Worth have followed to make sure Charlie left?

Caroline Linden closed out her The Truth About the Duke in style with an excellent finale in The Way to a Duke's Heart.

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