Five years after whispered accusations led a duke to take his own life, his son returns to Regency England to find out who slandered his father and exact revenge.
The Dukes of Stratton and the Earls of Marwood have been enemies for generations. Adam Penrose, the current Duke of Stratton, isn’t sure how the feud began. But he is fairly sure his family’s old enemies were also behind whatever scurrilous rumors led his beloved father to commit suicide. Adam has spent the past five years in France, grieving with his mother and garnering a reputation for fighting duels when people insult his family’s honor. But as soon as he returns to England, Adam is surprised by a summons from the dowager Countess of Marwood. She proposes to end the feud by marrying Adam off to her youngest granddaughter. Adam is willing to consider the alliance, but his eye is caught by the girl’s older sister, Lady Clara Cheswick. Clara is intense and independent and has no interest in marriage, preferring to spend her time secretly publishing a women’s literary journal. But if she won’t talk marriage, Adam is willing to settle for seduction, and Clara is easily persuaded to go along with it. It’s not entirely clear to the reader whether Adam is planning to use Clara for revenge against her family, but this adds spice to the story. Hunter (The Wicked Duke, 2016, etc.) has a thorough understanding of the architecture and fashion of the era, although unfortunately there isn’t as much artistic detail in this opening salvo of her new Decadent Dukes Society trilogy as there have been in previous works. Still, the writing is lively and the characters fun, and the duke’s cronies promise to make good heroes in future books.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.