Melinda McRae has been absent from Regencies for a while and I, for one,
am delighted to have her back. I have always thought she had a real
talent for the short, intense Regency and she demonstrates this fact in
her latest book, The Temporary Duke.
Adrian Stamford first becomes aware of his uncanny resemblance to the
Duke of Alston when they accidentally meet in a posting house. Even
Alston's friends couldn't tell them apart. Four years later, Alston's
uncle arrives at Adrian's doorstep with a strange proposition. The Duke
is overdue in returning from a trip to Switzerland and his absence might
mean that the Duke's betrothal to Lady Juliet might fall through with
disastrous effects on the family fortune. The uncle asks Adrian to
pretend to be the duke, suggesting that it is a matter of patriotic
Thus, this Latin teacher and archeologist is thrust into the ducal
shoes. Adrian is whisked away to a hunting box, where Alston's sister
Lady Rosemary is waiting to prepare him for his role. Thus, two
opposites meet and we all know about the attraction of opposites.
Actually, McRae does a fine job detailing how the two come to fall in
love. Rosemary is forced to examine her life and her preconceptions as
she meets a man who actually is enthusiastic about his study of
pre-Roman Britain. For his part, Adrian comes to understand the
limitations that accompany high rank and position and to admire the
woman behind the facade.
I really didn't know how McRae was going to handle the disparity in
their rank and fortune. Was he going to turn out to be a long lost duke
or was the author going to eschew such an easy out? I am not sure that
the ending that McRae offered is historically plausible, but it was
romantically satisfying. And after all, we are dealing in romance here.
McRae has a firm grasp of the nuances of Regency society and we watch
Adrian navigate the dangerous waters of imposture with our fingers
crossed. Seeing the world of the ton through Adrian's eyes points up
its shallowness and gradually Rose does begin to see her life through
less than rose colored glasses. Her transformation is completely
believable. Adrian is a very nice hero; one can understand why
Rose comes to feel the way she does.
All in all, The Temporary Duke is a completely enjoyable Regency
romance. I hope Ms. McRae will regularly turn her talents to writing
Regencies; she does it so well.