Two people who have lived on the margins of their families find a home in each other in the second Rogues to Riches novel.
When Duncan Wentworth encounters a mystery woman in the woods of the estate he is managing for his cousin, the Duke of Walden, he knows something is amiss. Though he left the church in disillusionment, the former curate and teacher is drawn to helping people in need, as readers of Burrowes’ My One and Only Duke (2018) would know. He coaxes the hollow-cheeked lady to join his household as a secretary, and she reluctantly agrees, seduced by the idea of food and shelter. Their intimacy develops over conversations about his travels, games of chess, and a gradual sexual attraction, much in the manner of Mary Balogh’s classic Regency romances. But though Matilda Wakefield gives him her maiden name and sexual companionship, she withholds her status as a widowed duchess and cautions him against prying into her secrets. Inevitably, however, she falls in love with this honorable man, one who cannot abide dishonesty or racism and who is battling guilt over his past failures to protect vulnerable women. Their relationship finally helps him heal, but despite his wish to court Matilda, their bond is threatened by larger forces involving national security in the form of her ex-fiance, a military colonel. A momentarily careless act on her part finally sets off a chain of events that takes everyone to London for a confrontation with the men who have used her as a pawn. It will take the unconventional Walden family’s intervention and the couple’s own faith in each other to help her escape the web of espionage in which she was unwittingly entangled.
A romance of gentle yearning and fulfillment balanced out by a suspense plot and a fast-paced third act.