Under threat of being banished from London, Lady Penelope Campion enlists her new business-mogul neighbor to help her become less reclusive and shrink her sprawling menagerie. All goes well until Penny and her pets crack open his crusty heart.
To rescue her wayward (and profane) parrot, Delilah, Lady Penelope uses a spare key to let herself into the house next door. The mansion has recently changed hands, and, unbeknownst to her, the new owner has taken up residence. Delilah leads Penny to his bedchamber, where they meet in a most inappropriate way, and Penny realizes that her new neighbor is none other than the notorious Gabriel Duke, known for financial acumen and ruining noble families. Gabe is modernizing the property to sell it for a tidy profit: “New-money families would pay outrageous amounts to live next door to a lady, even if said lady was an unappealing spinster.” So when Penny’s brother, who's managing the family estate in Cumberland while their parents are serving as diplomats in India, sends their aunt to make Penny move to the countryside for good, saying she shouldn't be living by herself in London and implying that at age 26 she's unlikely to find a husband, Gabe offers to help her find new homes for the abandoned animals she cares for and mingle more in society. Penny’s not unappealing, though. She’s beautiful, spirited, and kind. As the two attend events together and discreetly enter into a torrid affair that would derail both of their goals if anyone discovered it, she begins to care for his wounded heart, he becomes her devoted champion, and they fall in love. Deep secrets and old habits cause bumps in the road, landing Gabe in life-threatening danger and forcing Penny to stand up for herself to save him and their love. Dare’s inimitable wit, charm, humor, and emotional intensity are on full display, and readers will be smitten.
Another sparkling success for Dare and her delightful Girl Meets Duke series.