The Duke’s Last Hunt

Written by Rosanne E. Lortz
Review by Ray Thompson

The timid Miss Elizabeth Malcolm is understandably unenthusiastic about accepting the addresses of the very intimidating Duke of Brockenhurst. But for various reasons (particularly financial) her parents are insistent, she is a dutiful daughter, and so down they come for a visit to his Sussex estate. Though more attracted to his brother Lord Henry than to Rufus himself, whose primary interest is in hunting, she yields to parental pressure and accepts his proposal. The very next day Rufus is killed in a hunting accident. Or is it an accident?

Though set in the Regency period, as in her earlier To Wed an Heiress, the author was inspired by medieval history, in this case events surrounding the death of William Rufus, second King of England after the Norman Conquest. Here, too, a suspicious death shifts the focus from social conventions of the era to solving the mystery, and with it the welcome reappearance of Jacob Pevensey, the astute Bow Street Runner. The mystery is satisfying, and it is interesting to observe how Lortz chose to adapt the medieval characters to a Regency context. In the concluding chapters the characters seem interestingly ready to defy the rigid class boundaries and expectations more than one might find in the 19th century, but that is not uncommon in modern Regencies, which need to provide their readers with sympathetic figures. Recommended.