Review – The Return of the Disappearing Duke by Lara Temple

About the Book:

A scarred mercenary…

Or the Disappearing Duke of Greybourne?

Rafe has spent years running from his true identity. He’s a lone wolf, living far from aristocratic England and his violent father. Then unconventional Cleopatra Osbourne requests his protection as she crosses the Egyptian desert. In Cleo he discovers a fellow outcast—and a fierce desire! Cleo must return to London, and here lies Rafe’s dilemma—because following his heart means claiming the title he’s avoided for so long!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                          The Return of the Disappearing Duke (The Return of the Rogues)                                  The Lord’s Inconvenient Vow (Edge’s Story)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Rafael Edgerton, heir to the Duke of Greybourne, left home at the age of sixteen, vowing never to return until his violent father was dead.  First he became a soldier, where he was injured and scarred in a fire, then a mercenary.  His travels have taken him to many places over the last twenty years, his current location being Egypt.  Rafe chose to use the last name of Grey, with only a very few choice friends knowing his true identity.  The duke has died, and Rafe knows that he must return to England, but he’s reluctant to do so.  There are no happy memories of his childhood home, or his seemingly cold and distant mother.  Rafe’s dilemma is temporarily put aside, as he accepts an assignment to safely escort an English lady, who is unsuccessfully trying to disguise herself as a boy.

Cleopatra Osbourne and her younger brother, Dashford, are in Egypt thanks to their somewhat shady father and his dealings with antiquities, both real and forged.  After their father’s death, Dashford is being pursued by one of his powerful business associates, who desperately wants to put his hands on some item in the dead man’s possessions.  The siblings became separated, and Cleo, who greatly resembles her brother, cut her hair and dressed as a young man.  Unfortunately, this means that the supposed villain is now in pursuit of her, believing that she is her brother.  She seeks Rafe’s help and escort to escape, and he agrees.

The nearby ports are being closely watched, so Rafe and Cleo have to take the long route to an alternate port, one that takes them through the desert with camels as their transportation.  This road trip adventure has Rafe and Cleo discovering that they like each other very much, and physical attraction enters the picture almost immediately.  Cleo isn’t repulsed at all by Rafe’s scars, in fact, she finds everything about him compelling.  Though Rafe has lived a far from ducal life, he has still managed to retain his own personal code of honor.  Though he can tell that Cleo is dying to touch him, he tries his best to maintain his distance.  While they manage to avoid total physical intimacy, there are a couple of steamy encounters that rival the desert for heat.

Their journey eventually takes them back to England, while both are secretly wishing to stay on the ship with each other and sail forever.  Rafe knows he has to take up his duties as duke, and the thought is tearing him up inside.  He also realizes that he needs to reveal his true identity to Cleo, and dreams of a future with her.  Cleo, meanwhile is already grieving parting with Rafe, while being determined to find her still missing brother.  Rafe makes a date with Cleo, where he intends to tell her the whole truth, but he is waylaid by his brother, his mother, and an assault by a would-be thief.

The longing and attraction between Rafe and Cleo simply oozed off the pages, and I so badly wanted them to be together forever.  There are so many ways in which they are alike – their strength, yet their vulnerability, their sense of fun, their courage, their honor, and, of course, their passion.  I loved every minute of their time together.  The scene where Rafe proposes, and receives Cleo’s initial response, and then makes his reply, had me in tears.  His words are so loving and so heartbreaking!  The scene with his mother is also very enlightening, and explains so much of the past that was muddled.  THE RETURN OF THE DISAPPEARING DUKE is Lara Temple’s writing at its finest.  I loved the characters, the adventure, the heartwarming romance, and the beautiful story.     ~Rose

NOTE:  THE RETURN OF THE DISAPPEARING DUKE easily reads as a standalone, but the story also involves Rafe’s relationship with his brother, Edge, and the strange journey Rafe led him on.  Edge’s story is told in THE LORD’S INCONVENIENT VOW, and that book reveals more of the brothers’ sad childhood, and is another that I wholeheartedly recommend reading.

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