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Dusk with a Dangerous Duke
by Alexandra Hawkins
(St. Martins, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-1250-00138-2
***
When I finished this story I was stymied. I had enjoyed the tale and assumed as I was only 50 pages away that I would be recommending this book with enthusiasm. However, the author decided to throw in a lot of stuff into the ending, and thus almost trivialized the rest of the tale. So while I enjoyed the majority of the tale, I am disappointed in the ending.

When just 12 years old, the Duke of Huntsley, known as Hunter, was betrothed to two year old Lady Grace Kearly. She promptly bit him on the wrist. Nineteen years later, as she nears her 21st birthday, the deadline for the marriage, Grace is angry and upset while Hunter is resigned that he must fulfill his duties. This is not a good way to start a marriage.

There are plenty of complications. The betrothal was entered into by the Duke’s grandmother and the Lady’s grandfather, who were guardians of the two children. As time passed, the Duke let his lawyer deal with the young girl as she was growing up. He had his own growing to do and eventually he became one of seven men known to the ton as the Lords of Vice.

Despite being almost completely ignored for 19 years, Grace was raised with the expectation that she would be a duchess. She was headstrong, educated and ready to stand for her independence. When it became clear to her that her uncle was going to be a problem, she decided to journey to London to force the Duke to give her up so she could pursue another husband prior to her birthday. The Duke was in no way ready to give her up, first because of his duty and then because he fell in lust when he meets her for the first time. There was a lot of anger and a lot of bantering on both sides to reach some agreement on what they will do. The other men and their wives make many appearances and play a strong role in the ultimate result.

What ruined it was a quick out of the blue threat followed immediately by the switch from trying to learn about each other to full-fledged love without a transition. One minute they were still trying to figure out what kind of marriage they would have - to boom - we are both totally in love. It just didn’t fit with the buildup and the story up to that point.

Despite the disappointment, I had enjoyed the two characters, the interactions between the various lords and their ladies and the backstory seemed interesting, since I had never read any of the previous stories. The one man left standing is Lord Chillingsworth and he seems a character that may be fun as the hero of his own tale.

Dusk with a Dangerous Duke is an entertaining tale yet ultimately is merely acceptable due to the abrupt ending sequence.

--Shirley Lyons


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