My One and Only Duke (Rogues to Riches Book 1)

Written by Grace Burrowes
Review by Ray Thompson

As he awaits execution in Newgate Prison, wealthy London banker Quinn Wentworth meets Jane Winston, the widowed, pregnant daughter of a prison preacher, and offers a marriage of convenience to provide for her and the child. When he is discovered to be the missing heir to the deceased Duke of Walden, however, his pardon arrives at the very last moment. Now, the newlyweds must discover not only who framed him for murder, but whether they can make the marriage work.

The mystery is interesting, but as in most Regencies it is the romantic relationship that commands attention. This is the beauty and the beast story, for Quinn has fought his way out of the slums, but it is handled well: the protagonists are sympathetic and caring; the minor characters unconventional and entertaining, especially young Ned the jailbird; and the dialogue is enlivened by dry wit and perceptive digressions. Coincidences occur rather conveniently, but this is a romance despite keen insights into the social divide, especially the treatment of criminals. Highly recommended.

The book is bound with Once upon a Christmas Eve, a disappointing novella by Elizabeth Hoyt. Even though Viscount d’Arque does care for his grandmother and shows some restraint, that Sarah St. John should allow physical attraction to sweep aside good sense and take a risk on so notorious a rake strikes one as unsound conduct. Check with Jane Austen. Even if it is set in 1741, the relationship needs fuller development to account for the lady’s choice to invite him into her bed, and to explain her family’s surprising encouragement.