Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: The Way to a Duke's Heart by Caroline Linden

Of the three sons of the late Duke of Durham, Charlie has the most at stake. As heir, he risks losing everything that he has thought was his since birth. With his two brothers busy with their own lives, it is up to Charlie to piece together the puzzle clues they have discovered.

Their father's deathbed confession of a Fleet marriage, a first wife who could not be found, church records and blackmail letters have led Charlie to Bath and to a man named Hiram Scott.

And to a woman named Tessa Neville.

Tessa has managed her brother's estate and finances for some time now. She's in Bath to study a potential investment for her brother -- a canal. She's had the great misfortune of being overheard by Charlie who was staying in the same hotel as she. And a greater misfortune to have been overheard referring to this particular lord as "indolent" --

Having been betrayed in her youth, Tessa is suspicious of everyone -- and more suspicious when this very handsome, very important, very titled man pays attention to her and to her companion, Eugenie.

Tessa knows that Charlie's attentions are only temporary and she tries to guard her heart against him but, the more she gets to know Charlie the more she realizes that her feelings for him are anything but temporary.

This is the last book in Caroline Linden's The Truth About the Duke series and the story I have been waiting for her to tell.

Charlie has never been comfortable being called his given name, Charles. He's always felt it sounded pompous and arrogant. In a way, Charlie has refused his identity and his responsibility -- he's been estranged from his father for over eleven years and was content to have his younger brother Edward manage everything for him.

We see Charlie through Tessa's eyes -- he is indolent, carefree, etc -- and this is the opinion we have formed of him from the first two books. Where was he when the scandal of the Durham Dilemma broke in the newspapers? Where was he when his father lay dying and was waiting for him? But there is more to Charlie than meets the eye -- and, Linden's series title will actually divulge two truths about two dukes: the true story of Francis de Lacey, the late Duke of Durham and the story of Charles de Lacey, the current Duke of Durham.

And, as Tessa slowly changes her opinion of Charlie, so do we. We learn that Charlie just has a different way of doing things but he is just as decent and honorable as his two brothers.

And he is charming and dangerously lovable -- and Tessa is trying to avoid any sort of entanglements. But it is impossible not to fall in love with Charlie and his very simple, very Charlie-esque ways.

..."Was it really of no significance?" he said softly. "When I kissed you?"

She averted her face, so the bonnet brim hid it. "It meant nothing to me, and even less to you, I suspect."

He nodded. "You've got me all puzzled out, haven't you? Indolent, ignorant, arrogant, good-for-nothing scoundrel."

She slanted a challenging glance at him. "I never said that. Is that how most people see you?"

The question surprised him. "I suppose some do. Of course, most people see what they want to see. A title, a fortune, a handsome face ..." He shrugged. "It's enough to render any man a rogue in search of scandal."

"A handsome face," she repeated tartly. "I understand where the charge of arrogance originates."

He gave her a lazy smile. "It's not arrogance to speak the truth."
- pp. 195-196

What makes their relationship work is that they complement each other. Charlie knows his limitations as a person and he appreciates (and loves) Tessa for being able to speak her mind and make decisions easily. And Tessa is unlike any woman he has ever met.

Charlie was used to a variety of female expressions -- coyness, calculation, adoration, seduction -- but he'd never felt as though he was being assessed as he was now. Not for the value of his title or the size of his income, not for his physical appearance or even for his reputation among the ton, but for something more.
- p. 107

I think, for the first time in his life, he's allowed to be himself and it is a rare and refreshing for Charlie to be seen as he is.

Plus, they both love good coffee. ^_^

This is a wonderful end to The Truth About the Duke series -- I love how cleverly (and plausibly) Linden resolves the Durham Dilemma. She managed to sustain the mystery and the clues discovered from the previous two books all add up to a breathtaking ending.

To find out more about Caroline Linden and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

... very interesting. Caroline Linden has already announced that she will publish a new book in August 2013, Love and Other Scandals. When I pre-orderd One Night in London, it originally came with the title Love and Other Scandals. Curious.



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