About the book:
A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied…
Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?
Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?
Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link: The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses Book 4)
Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart, has made a royal mess of his life. As the second son, he never received his father’s love or attention, so he decided that he would do whatever it took to make his father notice him. Unfortunately, the path he chose – gaming and drinking — only further deteriorated his relationship with his father. His self destructive path also lost him his two dearest friends along the way. Now, with his beloved older brother and his father both dead, he’s the duke. Determined to turn his life around, and to become a duke his brother would have been proud of, Paul sets about making some major changes.
Lady Daphne Hallworth is preparing to leave for her family’s Christmas celebration. When a last minute accident requires she make a quick wardrobe change, she emerges to discover that she has been left behind. Her brother assumed that she would be travelling with their mother, and on to his house later, while her mother assumed she was going directly to her brother’s home with him. While she was not truly “forgotten,” the misunderstanding still stings, leaving Daphne feeling unvalued and unnecessary. She decides to embrace a few days alone with just a pair of servants, while she ponders her future. Now at twenty-five and unmarried, she is contemplating setting up her own household and a charity that’s close to her heart.
When Daphne takes a walk, she falls victim to a thieving child who steals her reticule, which contains her personal journal, one that details some of her most secret desires, and a shocking revelation about one of her family members. As she pursues the thief, she runs into Paul. When she was just a child, Paul and her brother, Alex, were the best of friends, and he spent much time at their home. Paul always paid attention to the younger Daphne, and she felt a hero worship for him. Unfortunately, Alex is one of the men Paul later wronged, and their friendship is long over, which also meant that Daphne no longer had any interaction with him.
With Alex not around, Daphne is happy talking to Paul, and he is thrilled that she still treats him as a friend, despite what happened. He agrees to help her retrieve her journal, and their quest leads them to spending much time together over the next several days. Paul’s broken spirit soaks up Daphne’s company and affection like a sponge. To be treated with kindness and made to feel worthy again is like a soothing balm to him. Unknown to Paul, as Daphne has grown up, her thoughts of Paul have turned to a more sensual nature, and some of those entries in her journal are shocking indeed!
Daphne and Paul become very close, very quickly, and they soon begin to share passionate embraces and think about a future together. Paul knows he has a difficult task in trying to reconcile with Alex, and to gain his approval of a match with Daphne, but it will be worth all the effort. Disaster happens as Alex returns to find that Daphne has been spending time alone with his enemy, then pages of her journal are made public, and worst of all, Paul learns a devastating secret that kills all hope of any future with Daphne.
I love how Paul has matured and decided to turn his life around. He accepts full responsibility for all his actions, and doesn’t try to sugarcoat what he’s done. I wondered if I was going to be won over by him, and I truly was. There is goodness and caring in him, and it was heartbreaking to see the snubs and rebuffs sent his way. Daphne is a worthy heroine, too, as she didn’t judge him based on her brother, but on the man she, herself, knew. She didn’t always use the best judgment in her actions in trying to recover her journal, but her heart is definitely in the right place. I admire her for finally standing up to her brother, and expressing her true feelings, and planning for her own future.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE DUKE is sometimes heartbreaking, but also passionate, warm, and romantic. There is a surprising twist, an odious and obnoxious villain, a wicked vicar, and a beautiful reconciliation and redemption. Some sweet touches, such as Daphne’s niece, Margaret, offering a kitten to Paul are beautifully done, and make for a touching read that I greatly enjoyed. ~Rose