Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
When a romance novel (or really any novel) opens with a Victorian-era, bluestocking, just about old enough to be considered a spinster female protagonist falling out of a tree because she climbed it to spy on the man of her dreams propose to another woman…well, you know you’ve got one interesting, captivating, and convention breaking main character. And then, a few chapters later, an Earl and a Duke exchange in fisticuffs in said female protagonist’s sitting room while battling over her affections…you definitely know you’re in for a fun, romantic ride.
THE DEVILISH DUKE is Maddison Michaels’ debut historical romance novel. The novel is set in Victorian Era England. The novel was published by Entangled Publishing on February 26, 2018.
Lady Sophie Wolcott has no desire to every get married. After watching her mother get heartbroken time and time again thanks to her philandering father, Sophie has no desire to make the same mistake. Sophie, who is nearing the age where she will be considered a spinster, is quite content working at the orphanage for poor children that her mother had originally started. Until the Devil Duke, Devlin Markham, inserts herself into her life and proposes marriage and a business deal.
Devlin Markham, the Duke of Huntington, has earned his reputation as the Devil Duke. Though the rumors about him are a bit more scandalous than the truth. Devlin also has no desire to get married but when Queen Victoria all but forces him to get married so she will back one of his business ventures, he pursues Lady Wolcott. First, Devlin wins the deed to Sophie’s orphanage, and then he offers to give her the deed if she will marry him. If Sophie doesn’t marry him, Devlin threatens to turn the orphans out into the street and then knock the orphanage down. After making her own deal, Sophie agrees to marry Devlin.
They also both agree not to fall in love with each other… Good luck with that…
Added to Sophie’s and Devlin’s budding romance is a murder mystery. After one of the former orphans is killed while working as a maid for another noble family, Sophie is determined to find out what happened to her. Then two other servants from the same household are also murdered. Delvin finds himself caught up in Sophie’s quest to uncover the killer, and, in the process, uncovers something from his past that has haunted him for years. The added aspect of the murder mystery plays out nicely alongside the romance. Both of the storylines make this novel a page-turner. And, I have to admit, the identity of the bad guy kept me guessing up until the very end when it was revealed.
THE DEVILISH DUKE is an enchanting romance novel. Sophie and Devlin are both likeable characters. The readers will find themselves cheering for the couple in the early stages of their unconventional courtship. They’re both so determined not to fall in love, and watching it happen is both fun and frustrating. I kept wanting to yell at Sophie and Devlin to open their eyes and realize what is going on. Overall, THE DEVILISH DUKE is a fantastic novel. It’s well written, the characters are fascinating, and Michaels brings Victorian Era England to life.