Never Deceive A Duke
Never Deceive a Duke is Carlyle’s second Neville family novel. Gareth Lloyd, part-owner of Neville Shipping, finds himself saddled with the title of Duke of Warneham—an event both surprising and entirely unwelcome. Gareth’s memories of the old Duke are not happy ones, and he reluctantly returns to the country estate, uncertain of what to expect. He certainly isn’t prepared to deal with the Duke’s young widow, Antonia. Twice widowed, and suspected of murdering the last Duke, Antonia lives with her own demons from the past. These two damaged souls begin to find solace in each other, but can suspicions over the old Duke’s death and Gareth’s role in a childhood tragedy be overcome?
Gareth Lloyd is a terrific character, and I wished that he had a female counterpart worthy of his complexities. Antonia is, however, not as well-realized, and inconsistent in her behaviour. She often refers to Gareth by a different name, and though there may have been a thematic purpose to this, it seemed too random to make sense. If you’re in the mood for sensual scenes and not bothered by the rapidity with which Gareth and Antonia become familiar, this is an undemanding romance. An appearance by the mysterious, yet satisfyingly competent Mr. Kemble (a recurring Carlyle character) also lends some joy and wit to this late Regency-era story.