A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby (Rogues and Remarkable Women)

Written by Vanessa Riley
Review by Gini Grossenbacher

First in a new series, Rogues and Remarkable Women, this Regency opens with Afro-Caribbean widow Patience Jordan’s dilemma. Her husband, Colin, has committed suicide, abandoning her and their baby, Lionel, at Hamlin Hall under the cruel auspices of Colin’s gambling partner, Markham, who imprisons her. She escapes to The Widow’s Grace, and with their help she returns in male disguise to Hamlin, only to meet up with Colin’s heir, the Duke Busick Strathmore, who claims Lionel as his ward. After Patience’s disguise is revealed, Busick hires her as a nanny for Lionel, and as such, they become allies in the search for a secret diary holding the truth behind Colin’s suicide and Markham’s possible rights to their property and Lionel. Meanwhile, the Duke is encumbered by an amputated limb and shrapnel in his spine, wounds suffered during the Napoleonic Wars. While assisting him and tending to baby Lionel’s needs, Patience finds herself and the Duke entangled in a romantic web of truth, lies, and unrevealed secrets.

The novel is unique for its multicultural perspective as Patience battles the constraints of British Regency society and longs for the freedom of her native shores, Demarara. The reader learns that “mulattoes” and “Blackamoors” numbered from ten to twenty thousand in England at the time of the Regency. Wealthy plantation owners brought their mixed-race children to England to be educated and to marry. Vanessa Riley schools readers through her page-turning narrative about a woman caught in a culture not of her birth, yet drawn to a kind and loving man with a title.