For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her aging parents and the children of her siblings. Now, eager to make her own life, she takes a position as a governess on the neighboring estate. It shouldn’t matter that her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the infamous rake who once broke her youthful heart. Surely he’s forgotten her, for he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years. At least, that is, until he arrives unexpectedly.
Max is incensed to meet his sister’s new governess. But why does Abby appear just as displeased to see him when it was she who’d rejected him all those years ago? Why is he so drawn to the independent spinster she has become? And why is there a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes that suggests they might have a second chance at love?
Titles in the Unlikely Duchesses series include — The Duke I Once Knew –
Title: The Duke I Once Knew
Series: Unlikely Duchesses #1
Author: Olivia Drake
Genre: Regency Romance
Published: December 31, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
My Rating: 4 stars
What should have been a bright future for two young people in love became a nightmare that both endured in their own way. Promised letters between them, contact to keep the dreams alive were never received… by either. Each believed the other had set them aside, that their love wasn’t enough, and they each changed from what they might have been… to what they are today. One rake out for his own enjoyments, and one spinster at the beck and call of her family. Until Abby said no. Finally said no. She’s quickly approaching her thirtieth birthday without once experiencing anything remotely exciting or adventurous… it was time she did. Even if that was only taking a governess position with the sister of the man she once believed to hold her future. At least it was an adventure, and not one she’d soon forget.
The letters that were to be a lifeline between Abby and Max were never delivered… to either of them. And that means there is a mystery afoot that needs to be solved before they have even a remote possibility of a second chance at love or their future.
Fifteen years is a long time to allow discontent and bitterness to take over one’s life but it is what has happened. Now they are faced with not only finding out what happened but also with the feelings that never went away… but did change in some ways.
There are interesting twists in “The Duke I Once Knew” that kept me on my toes. I cannot say that I really liked the people Abby and Max are today or what we are presented with as their personalities. They each are stubborn, bull-headed and believe they are in the right, even when truths come to light. I enjoyed their story, yet I never felt like I was in their corner fighting for them.
I would recommend this story, it’s a good tale just not one that I was deeply invested in. (My take may be vastly different than yours so you should always make up your own mind.) I will continue the series for I enjoy Ms. Drake’s work and look forward to the next story.
*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*
Available in paperback and for the Kindle