Nothing Compares to the Duke

Written by Christy Carlyle
Review by Ray Thompson

1848. Years ago, Rhys Forester broke Arabella Prescott’s heart. Since then, he has pursued a life of dissipation and self-indulgence, while she remained a dutiful daughter. Except that she refuses offers of marriage, and he cannot forget her. Now, however, he has inherited a dukedom and needs help to work out why the finances are so precarious; she wants her loving parents to take up a coveted post in Greece, but they refuse until she gets married. Rhys and Bella reach an agreement: a pretend engagement in exchange for her help to sort out the ledgers.

Will this pretence become reality? Bella is intelligent, but the old attraction quickly heats up, especially since Rhys is still in prime physical shape despite his dissipated lifestyle. Can she trust him not to betray her again? The evidence seems contradictory, the plan far-fetched, and her indecisions do slow the pace.

The motif of the bad boy just waiting for the right woman to transform him into a devoted partner is popular in modern Victorian romances. It has proved to be a dangerous temptation that has not served women well in real life, unfortunately, but its attraction remains and the warning here is muted.