The Duke of Deception by Darcy Burke
Book 3 in The Untouchables Series
ARC, eBook, 222 pages
November 15, 2016
Book 3 in The Untouchables Series
ARC, eBook, 222 pages
November 15, 2016
Source: Received from Publicist for Review
After five years on the Marriage Mart, Miss Aquilla Knox is ready for spinsterhood until a benefactress steps in to help her secure a husband. Only Aquilla doesn’t actually want to marry—her failure is entirely on purpose. When the earl she’s nicknamed the Duke of Deception sets his sights on her, she refuses to be drawn in by her attraction to him. If there’s one thing she knows it’s that a gentleman is never what he seems.
Edward Bishop, Earl of Sutton, has a reputation for courting young misses and dropping them without a second thought. This has earned him a reputation for deceit, a description he can’t refute because he does in fact, harbor secrets and will do anything—deceive anyone—to ensure they don’t come to light. As he comes to know the charming Miss Knox, his resolve is tested. However, trust comes at a price and Ned won’t pay with his heart.What a fun romance adventure this was! Aquilla and Ned were an excellent match of wits that their exchanges were so entertaining to read. Both of them are keeping secrets from each other – and they know that they are – but unlike some other novels featuring secrets, it was less about a constant state of misunderstanding. Aquilla doesn’t intend to marry, that’s part of her secret, but when pushed into a corner, marriage to the “Duke of Deception” seems the better of the options available. Ned needs to find a wife, but he is looking for someone that meets some very specific requirements, that Aquilla seems to meet. While they don’t know each other very well, they quickly form an attachment.
Aquilla reminded me of myself in some ways which made her very realistic and easy to connect with. She is quite loquacious, in ALL situations, which sometimes slowed down some of the romantic moments – but at least the hero found that intriguing, so it all works out. Some of these moments felt a little explanatory, which makes some sense as she is a novice, but I could have done with less “training” during each subsequent encounter. Their sexual relations are definitely hot, but not scorching. Ned has been named the “Duke of Deception” by Aquilla and her friends because he is well-known for leading women toward thinking he is going to offer marriage and then ultimately not, but that name goes deeper than they even realize.
I loved how the pace of the story barreled forward getting closer and closer to the secrets being revealed. The two characters don’t fixate too much throughout the novel about how the revelation of the secrets would play out as they knew it would eventually need to be revealed, but it does cross their find from time to time. As I stated before, while this wasn’t a constant state of misunderstanding, there was one major moment toward the end that actually in its own way started to bring everything back together as the characters had begun to drift apart. I was surprised by how Ned’s secret played out and the drama that unfolded there, because I had my own idea, but not the way it actually turned out.
This is the third book in this series, however it read perfectly well as a stand alone. Two of Aquilla’s friends who make appearances in this book (as well as their husbands) have their own stories featured in books 1 and 2, as well as the forthcoming book 4 as well. I could sense there was backstory between them, but it wasn’t necessary to the story being told in The Duke of Deception. I will certainly be going back to read the earlier installments in this series.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo
Also by Darcy Burke:
The other titles in this series by Darcy Burke include:
The Forbidden Duke (Book 1)
The Duke of Daring (Book 2)
Find Darcy Burke: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
The soft utterance came from the door behind Ned. He pivoted and listened, wondering if he’d imagined the sound amidst the steady pit-pat of rain.
“Ahem.” The statement came more loudly. “Pardon me, but might I ask a favor?”
Ned turned fully toward the feminine voice coming from the dim veranda. He pulled the door wider. “Come in.”
“No.” She stood just outside. Ned could only make out her vague shape. “I can’t come into the ballroom. I need to enter another way and get to the retiring room. I’m afraid I was caught in this rain and...” Her voice trailed off.
Ned strained his eyes to try to see her features, but it was dark and she was standing too far away from the light of the ballroom. “I believe there’s another door along the terrace.” He gestured behind her. He’d visited Middlegrove House a few times and had been outside before.
“Yes, but it’s locked. That is why I need a favor. I don’t suppose you could find Lady Satterfield and ask her to unlock that door for me?”
Lady Satterfield and not Lady Middlegrove? He glanced back at the crowded ballroom and doubted he could find either of them, especially quickly. “Are you out there unprotected in the rain?” She had to be freezing. It was a cool night amidst a particularly cold spring.
“Er...yes.” She sounded resigned. “It was not my best idea.” Her calm tone carried an edge of humor that Ned found intriguing. He would’ve expected most women to be far more agitated by such a predicament.
Clearly she was alone, and he wondered what she was doing out there by herself. However that hardly mattered while she was standing there likely shivering. “Go to the door, and I’ll ensure it’s unlocked posthaste.”
She exhaled sharply, and the sound carried a thrum of relief. “Thank y-you.”
Yes, she was shivering.
He considered handing her his coat through the open doorway, but that would invite unwanted attention and scandal—something Ned was always careful to avoid.
“I’ll hurry.” He left the doorway and cut around the edge of the ballroom, making his way to the card room next door. He wasn’t exactly sure which room the locked terrace door opened into, but suspected it was just on the other side of this one.
He ought to find Lady Middlegrove or a retainer or even Lady Satterfield, since the young woman had asked for her, but he was too concerned with getting her inside as quickly as possible. And since he didn’t see any of those people, he decided to help her himself.
He left the card room and looked around to discern if anyone was about to pay him any mind. Satisfied that he was alone and unobserved, he went into the next room, which appeared to be Lord Middlegrove’s office and closed the door firmly behind him. A low fire burned in the grate as he walked swiftly toward the exterior door. After unbolting it, he opened it wide.
Standing at the threshold looking little better than a drowned cat was a young woman, her face pale and her eyes wide. She hugged her arms around her waist and stepped inside.
He took her gently by the arm and pulled her farther into the room before closing the door sharply behind her. “Come to the fire.”
Her peach-colored dress was sodden and dark. Wet curls stuck to her temples and cheeks. A droplet of rain slid from her nose.
“Th-thank y-y-you.” The words trembled from her mouth like a newborn foal as she moved to stand in front of the fire. She stuck her hands out, warming her palms.
“Give me those.” He took her left hand and pulled off the damp glove then repeated the action with the right. Uncertain of what to do with them, he set them on the mantel.
She looked at him then scanned the room. “Wh-where is L-lady Satterfield?”
“I didn’t see her. I thought it prudent to get you inside as quickly as possible.”
Her eyes widened briefly before narrowing to scrutinize him. “W-we’re in here alone?”
“Regrettably, but no one saw me, and no one will learn we are here.” He crossed back to the door he’d used to enter and locked it. “Better?” he asked when he returned to her side.
“N-no, I’m not at all certain that’s better. N-now we’re l-locked in a room together.” She cast him an ambivalent glance before turning her attention to the fire. She edged closer and turned her hands to warm the backs.
“Just what were you doing on the terrace?”
She closed her eyes briefly before cocking her head to glance at him. “T-trying to be discreet? My gown has a tear and I wanted to find the retiring room without having to cross the ballroom. I thought I could take a shortcut via the terrace. Unfortunately it was raining—softly at first, so I hurried. B-but the door was locked, and the heavens decided to punish my foolishness by making it rain harder.”
“You weren’t being foolish.”
She cast him a glance heavy with doubt. “I appreciate your d-defense of my character, but I was.”
“You didn’t know the door would be locked or that it was going to rain like that. You were trying to be sensible.”
She laughed softly, but it quickly turned into a shiver. Her shoulders hunched.
Ned shrugged out of his coat and draped it about her shoulders. She turned her head sharply and gave him another wide-eyed look. “As long as we’re ignoring propriety...” he said. “Just wear my coat for a few minutes while I determine how to get you out of the house and on your way home.”
“Y-yes, that would be lovely.” She didn’t sound disappointed in the slightest. In fact, Ned would’ve said she sounded pleased. Enthusiastic even, particularly given the smile tugging at her mouth.
Perhaps her attitude was simply due to her predicament. What young woman was happy to leave Lady Middlegrove’s ball? And wasn’t completely overcome when caught in a rainstorm in a ballgown?
The kind that piqued his interest.
A Duke of Deception Prize Pack filled with the following:
- Signed copy of The Forbidden Duke and The Duke of Daring
- Jane Austen jigsaw puzzle
- Jane Austen inspired candle
- Pride & Prejudice board book
- Bath salts from author Wendy LaCapra
- Darcy Burke trading cards, bookmark, and cleaning cloth
Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court