A Maryland horse breeder struggles to adjust to newfound English dukedom and his desire for an impoverished lady’s companion in this fish-out-of-water Regency romance.
In the final novel in her Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series, Rodale (Lady Claire Is All That, 2016, etc.) pairs the brother of the Cavendish women with their aristocratic aunt’s employee. James, a new duke who's worried about the title he has suddenly inherited, spends the night with a lovely stranger he meets at an inn. To their surprise (but not the reader’s), she is the one charged with tutoring him and his sisters when they arrive at the ducal home in London. Unnerved by the coincidence, Miss Meredith Green tries to remember her place and her duty to her employer and ignores her growing love for James. But memories of their passion and their constant proximity during lessons on etiquette and dancing erode their determination to let go of each other. There have been more memorable takes on the one-night-with-a-stranger plot, such as Mary Balogh’s Slightly Wicked. This courtship is less absorbing, and the sex scenes feel rote, a common affliction at the end of a series. The characters are given some interiority and depth, though their oddly modern speech can be jarring. The novel also makes a strong pitch for women’s individuality and dreams through its portraits of Meredith and the Cavendish sisters, but it has an unfortunate tendency to prove their worth by casting domestic arts and traditionally feminine interests as inferior. Moreover, the repeated claim that American classlessness is superior to outdated British class structures wears thin in a novel steeped in Georgian nobility.
A Cinderella-story mashup of historical romance, chick lit, and reality TV, with a secret-paternity plot and a dash of American exceptionalism.