Review – Dukes in Disguise by Grace Burrowes, Susanna Ives, and Emily Greenwood

Dukes in DisguiseGrace Burrowes, Emily Greenwood, and Susanna Ives team up to bring you three Regency novellas, each featuring a young, wealthy duke who must spend two weeks masquerading as a commoner in the bucolic backwater of Lesser Puddlebury. Disaster will rain down if their graces’ titled status become public knowledge. Fortunately for our heroes, true love is no respecter of rank.

His Grace of Lesser Puddlebury by Grace Burrowes
Connor, Duke of Mowne, has been injured in a most delicate location, and needs a place to heal far from the eyes of Polite Society. When he takes refuge with the independent and impecunious Julianna St. Bellan, he suspects his wound was in truth caused by Cupid’s arrow!

Duchess of Light by Susanna Ives
In a tangle of lies and disguises, a brokenhearted duke and a desperate miss find truth in love.

Kiss Me, Your Grace by Emily Greenwood
Rowan, Duke of Starlingham, thinks love is for fools, though when he arrives at his hunting box to find an alluring but puzzlingly uncooperative woman pretending to be his cousin, he realizes he may be a victim of the most absurd malady of all: love at first sight.

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Reviewed by Rose 3

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Dukes in Disguise

DUKES IN DISGUISE  is a compilation of short stories about three dukes, Mowne, Lucere, and Starlingham, who are best friends.  When a freakish accident causes a stray bullet to ricochet and hit Mowne in the buttock, (courtesy of younger brother Freddy) it’s time to get out of town before gossip can start.  If Mowne’s uncle hears of any scandal, he’ll punish Mowne financially, since he rules the purse strings of the family.  So Mowne takes off for Lesser Puddlesbury to hide out for a couple weeks, both to give himself time to heal, and to be away from potential gossipy eyes.  Of course, three dukes showing up in a small town would create MUCH gossip, so the dukes must go incognito.  They all decide on their aliases, and head off with no thoughts of, or desire for romance.  But you can’t run from love, not even in Lesser Puddlebury.

THE DUKE OF LESSER PUDDLEBURY by Grace Burrowes  – Con (Mowne) has decided to stay with a distant cousin, Jules, who has been receiving financial support from Con for years.  Con arrives to find that Jules is really Julianna, the widow of his relation.  Julianna has been doing her best to care for her property and four orphaned children, while being obstructed at every turn by an obnoxious villain who wants to get his hands on this parcel of land.  Con soon sees the way things are, and in true hero fashion, even though injured, begins to help.  The no-nonsense, hard-working Julianna soon begins to desire the duke in disguise, and the two quickly fall in love.  I adore Con, who is unselfish, honorable,  and generous.  Before the happy ever after ensues, the villain has to be dispatched, and the truth of Con’s identity has to be told.  Family members appear to offer support to the man who usually bears all the burdens himself.  This beautiful short story has plenty of heart, smiles, gentle humor, and warmth.

DUCHESS OF LIGHT by Susanna Ives – Stephen (Lucere) has to find lodgings, and can’t pass up a sad looking boardinghouse that, surprisingly, carries the name of Lucere.  Estella Primrose, the young lady who greets Stephen, is actually a second cousin from the side of the family his parents didn’t acknowledge.  It seems that Estella and her family are in dire straits.  She has actually written to Stephen, requesting help, but his secretary rejected the requests without Stephen’s knowledge.  Stephen is posing as a tutor, and his natural charm brings laughter to the sad house.  He finds himself falling for the beautiful Estella, and desperately wants to help her.  Stephen doesn’t feel that he deserves her, though, because of guilt he carries over his past.  Stephen is a complex character, the lightness of his outward persona hiding the dark burden that weighs him down. There are some light moments due to  Estella’s silly twin sisters, but this is more of a serious read, dealing with self forgiveness and self worth.

KISS ME, YOUR GRACE by Emily Greenwood – Rowan (Starlingham) owns a hunting box in Lesser Puddlebury, which he actually is considering selling, so he plans to pose as his own cousin and stay there while he investigates the property.  His housekeeper, Louisa, has improperly invited her distraught friend, Claire Beckett, to stay there.  Since the duke hasn’t visited in years, she feels secure that he won’t show up now.  When Rowan does show up, Claire declares herself to be a cousin to the duke as well.  Rowan knows this is definitely not true, but he doesn’t have Claire tossed out because he felt an odd sensation when meeting her, something like destiny.  Claire actually left her home upon learning she had been engaged by her father to an older man with a bad case of halitosis. (ha!)  While Claire finds Rowan attractive, she has been egged on by her friend, the housekeeper, to be more assertive and independent.  Rowan is a commanding, no-nonsense man, and Claire invites him close, then pushes him away.  While honor makes Rowan accede to her wishes, Claire soon realizes that she may have made the biggest mistake of her life by rejecting him. Rowan is the kind of hero I love to see – straight forward, sometimes abrupt, but honest and honorable.  Claire’s struggle to find herself made this story a very compelling read.

All in all, DUKES IN DISGUISE is an excellent, well written compilation.  The stories flowed seamlessly, one into the next, all with a similar theme of a strong woman being bested by unfortunate circumstances, and the duke having the opportunity to be a hero.  The different writing styles and characters, along with a dose of humor, emotion, and romance, made for a most enjoyable read that I highly recommend.

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