The Day of the Duchess: Scandal & Scoundrel, Book III
1836. When Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, bursts into the House of Lords to demand a divorce by Act of Parliament, their lordships are shocked and outraged at the impropriety. The reaction of her husband, Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, is more complicated. He is angry, yes, because of the circumstances that led to this demand, three years after her mysterious disappearance, but he still loves her. As she does him, despite her determination to gain her freedom. What follows is a dance in which they try to suppress their powerful feelings for each other. He tries to win her forgiveness and woo her again, while she seeks her independence. To buy time, he offers a divorce if she will first help him find a replacement wife. Will it work? Can trust be restored?
It is an intriguing, if unlikely, situation, and it introduces us to some fascinating minor characters: predictably scheming mamas, surprisingly perceptive prospective brides, and Seraphina’s delightfully unconventional sisters. Unfortunately, the passages devoted to the protagonists’ introspection, as they wrestle with their conflicting feelings, do tend to slow rather than advance the plot. Recommended, nonetheless.