It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke

Written by MAYA RODALE
Review by Ray Thompson

Although American-born James Cavendish has inherited the dukedom of Durham, he is reluctant to undertake a role for which he is totally unprepared. Earlier books in the series follow the (mis)adventures of his three sisters; now it is his turn. Will he too find love? Since this is a Regency romance, success is not really in doubt, but the obstacles are formidable, for Meredith Green is not an aristocrat, merely a lady’s companion, and dukes are expected to marry well. But though both struggle against their feelings, they fall hopelessly in love.

This is the Cinderella story, but it explores some interesting topics: the problems of trying to win acceptance in a society with strict (and unreasonable) conventions; the obligations of great landowners to those who work in their houses and estates; the conflict between personal feelings and duty to family; and that between head and heart. After all the stress, the resolution seems a bit convenient, but this is a thoughtful and well-written story with a delightfully ironic perspective. And some literary nods: Meredith is reading Pamela, and the odious Mr. Collins, a clergyman of course, arrives eager to marry one of the sisters. Recommended.