A Duke at the Door (Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde, 3)

Written by Susanna Allen
Review by Judith Starkston

This Regency paranormal romance, 3rd in Allen’s Beau Monde series, involves an unlikely romantic pair, a duke who is also a shapeshifter lion and Tabitha, a lady apothecary who wishes to remain unwed. The Welsh Duke of Llewelyn, after years magically trapped in a circus in his lion form, fears transforming even temporarily into his lion “essential self.” Not doing so endangers his life and well-being, just as the long years in his lion form proved debilitating. The Regent, a bear shapeshifter, hires Tabitha to assist Llewelyn in his recovery. She can’t resist this intriguing patient and learning about the secret shapeshifting world. Unfortunately, the danger to the duke and many in this community is not over.

Allen’s lighthearted portrayal of the minor characters and, most importantly, the villain adds satirical humor to the tale. This style avoids a sense of real danger, and the rescue scenes read as comic antics as much as heroic acts. Allen’s choice of archaic vocabulary, such as “lave” for “lick,” occasionally goes awry, sounding stilted, but does add to the tone of parody. For example, Tabitha’s conversation is described like this: “The lady ably switched topics like a swallow in a susurration.” Characters from previous books in the series enter the action with little introduction and past events are often referred to as inside knowledge, so readers will lessen confusion by starting with the first series book.