by Janna MacGregor
Series: The Cavensham Heiresses #4
Published on November 27, 2018 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied…
Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?
Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?
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It’s been a while since I picked up one of the Cavensham books so I went into The Good, the Bad, and the Duke with only a vague recollection of what happened so far (this reads just fine as a standalone, by the way). Both Paul and Daphne have made appearances in books past but this time it’s their story. An “I’m in love with my brother’s best friend” one, if that’s your thing.
While neither the writing nor the story were particularly intriguing (“on-the-shelf” spinster (who’s only 25. . . such was the era, I suppose) finds love with an old family friend), I enjoyed this one more than the first 3 books. Partially, I think, because I liked the leading gentleman.
Because, you know, he was a gentleman.
In the past books, Paul was cast as a villain of sorts and you only see one side of things but this book sheds more light onto his background and how he’s trying to change. Which he’s doing BEFORE the story really starts and I think that’s important because it wasn’t a case of changing to win the girl. He actually wanted to be a better person. And when Daphne came into the picture, he always asked for consent, he always waited and never pushed. Often Daphne was in control and she directed the situation. It’s sad that I don’t see that very often in the historical romances I read, infrequently enough that it stood out.
As for Daphne, I enjoyed her character in that she had always done what she thought was expected to the detriment of her own dreams, and finally she was going to do something for herself. She also had no intention of letting Paul get away once she learned there were mutual feelings. It’s not as thought she hounded him, but instead fought for both their feelings. And she was quite fiesty about it, in a good way.
The romance between the two was drawn out in a way that felt natural rather than forced. There was definitely chemistry and the book didn’t need all the extra trappings of outlandish plot devices to make this romance work. It was a subtle burn that grew, which I appreciated rather than tossing in scenes at random that are more lust than love.
In terms of the whole series, I think this has been the best of the books so far (and it’s not even about one of the Cavensham Heiresses!) and I am glad I read the others because even though I didn’t remember all the details, it helped fill in some of the relationships and events referenced in this book. If you’ve been reading the series and questioning moving on or not, I’d say pick this one up!