The Duke’s Scandalous Secret
Social butterfly Lynette Overton, an avid reader of Gothic fiction, is determined to prove that her late mother did not steal the valuable Wonderlee Diamond. Her favorite authoress is Mrs. Mordefi, who writes of distressed damsels in blood-chilling circumstances. In order to win a wager, she abruptly travels to Berkshire to discover why Thomas Flander, Duke of Ravensfield, has suddenly withdrawn to the seclusion of his country estate. She ends up all alone in the countryside during a thunderstorm, and is rescued by none other than the duke—who could have stepped from the pages of Mrs. Mordeft’s latest tale.
Lynette’s arrival comes at an inopportune moment for the secretive nobleman, who reluctantly shelters her while her sprained ankle heals. Before long, he is caught up in a conflict of his gentlemanly honor and his manly desires. The outcome is predictable, and eventually he seduces the willing Lynette. After a misunderstanding that parts the lovers, Lynette resumes her quest to clear her mother’s name, which involves her with the unsavory and vengeful Lady Christina, Ravensfield’s former mistress.
Lane exhibits a lively writing style. But throughout this disappointing Regency historical, the reader encounters trite dialogue, anachronisms, and the lack of suspense or surprise.