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Duke Not So Dark, But an Engaging Story
I do enjoy a Regency romance with a bit of suspense and perhaps some danger! This book delivered on all counts. It pulls you right in with a dramatic scene of a man being injured in an attack, whom we later find out is the eponymous hero of the story, and some women helping him out. One of these women, of course, will turn out to be the heroine. The heroine, Olivia, is actually in some danger herself from a baron who wishes to marry her, even by force and threat, because of her somewhat distant relation to an earl. The plot of this book is complicated for a Regency romance, as it often is in books with multiple suspense plots. There is danger for both the duke and Olivia, and they manage to help each other out through their trials. Though the duke is called “The Duke of Darkness” in the title, and some of the local people think ill of him or have an unnatural fear of him, the duke is not truly dark—though he may skirt the boundaries of what is correct to achieve desired results for the good of those who rely on him. I found it interesting that the author revealed in the note at the end of the book that she loosely based his character and some of the arc of the plot on Vlad the Impaler. I liked Olivia as a character, as she is strong in the face of adversity on many fronts and acts boldly and courageously when she needs to. These are decent people who deserve each other. I thought the characters had good chemistry, and the latter half of the book gets a little steamy.
The book has two villains, one each for the duke and Olivia. The one real weakness that I saw in this book was that the author left a loose thread in that we don’t really know for sure whether or not Olivia’s villain is still a threat or has who gotten his just desserts. (OK, we do know that he will cease to be a threat when the couple marries, and he did get a sound thrashing by the duke, but…) When a character is particularly vile, we like to know that they are no longer a concern and that justice has been served. I felt as though the book ended somewhat abruptly; I tend to like a victory lap in a book when the characters have been put through the wringer. I also feel like the book should have had an epilogue; truly, I love an epilogue in most romances. I so enjoy the little glance at the future felicity of the couple. All in all, though, I found this to be an engaging read that was hard to put down.