Only a Duke Will Do
by Sabrina Jeffries
(Pocket Books, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-4165-1609-3
***
Simon Tremaine, Duke of Foxmoor, is back from India where he served as Governor-General. Prior to his service in India, he had had a romantic fling with a young Louisa North. Louisa is the illegitimate daughter of the king (George IV, formerly the Prince Regent). Her brother Lord Draker is married to Regina, Simonís sister. Simonís grandfather, Lord Monteith, had served as Prime Minister and held very strict, traditional views about a womanís role.

In the years since Simon last saw her, Louisa has become involved with the London Ladies Society which is shockingly becoming involved in political matters Ė a domain exclusively reserved for men. The king encourages Simon to resume his romance with Louisa, removing her from all political activities. In return, he promises to smooth the way for Simon to achieve his ultimate goal Ė the position of Prime Minister.

Louisa is not pleased at Simonís return. She still feel betrayed by his conduct before he went to India. She takes satisfaction in her involvement in social and political action and her association with her friends in the School for Heiresses.

On the other hand, Simon is actively assisting her in recruiting Lady Trusbut for the Ladies Society and in securing the financial support of Lord Trusbut. And he does seem to be sincere in his desire to woo and wed her. How can she resist?

Louisa is one of those smart, loyal, committed heroines who deserves better than a father who sees her as little more than a pawn and a nuisance and a hero who broke her heart the first time but refuses to do the decent thing and remain far, far away.

She certainly deserves better than Simon who sees her as the path to his ambitions. Yes, he comes to love her and appreciate her for her admirable qualities. Yes, he does eventually recognize the legitimacy of her cause. But itís hard to believe that by the time theyíve celebrated a few anniversaries he wonít have relegated her to second place behind his rising career.

Only a Duke Will Do (which is a silly title because Simonís title isnít an issue) suffers from close connection with not one but two of the authorís previous books. The early romance between Simon and Louisa was a strong subplot in To Pleasure a Prince, the second in the Royal Brotherhood series. I read the first book but forgot some of the details, and the back story is not well covered in this second. Those who have never read the first may be lost without knowing more about the charactersí history.

Never Seduce a Scoundrel is the first in the authorís School for Heiresses series, Only a Duke Will Do is second. I have not read the former and noticed holes in my understanding of this one. Each chapter begins with a part of the correspondence between Charlotte and her cousin Michael which has to has to have some significance, but itís never explained. The depiction of the social activism of Louisa and her friends and the conditions theyíre trying to change is one of the bookís strengths.

With its close ties to two of the authorís previous book, Only a Duke Will Do is likely to appeal most to those readers who have read the others. The admirable heroine, however, will likely to appeal to all readers.

--Lesley Dunlap


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