Must Love Dukes

Written by Elizabeth Michels
Review by Audra Friend

Michels’ debut novel is a sweet and humorous Regency romance that opens with sexy oomph. Lillian Phillips, anticipating a life as a spinster, allows herself a night of unexpected passion with a stranger when her attempt to retrieve a pawned family heirloom leads her into the arms of a handsome, intelligent man. Devon Grey, a young Duke rumored to be ‘mad’ like his father, burns with disappointment when his pretty amour disappears with his newly purchased pocket watch. A year after the incident, he’s stunned to see the thief attending at a society ball, seemingly unaffected by the night, and he impetuously blackmails her as revenge.

Michels’ narrative is snappy and the plot quick paced; the obstacles between Devon and Lillian come from her mercenary brothers rather than any farcical misunderstandings. Lillian and Devon banter and quibble to humorous effect, and the small cast of secondary characters is delightfully funny or deliciously vile as needed. A subplot with Lillian’s brother is unexpected and refreshingly modern (however anachronistic). Those eager for a new series will enjoy wondering which of the unresolved romantic threads Michels will pick up next.