This romance really starts with one of my worst nightmares: having a journal—chock full of salacious imaginings and big secrets and worst and best moments—stolen. The journal belongs to Lady Daphne Hallworth, a beautiful 25-year-old spinster who has taken refuge in writing—and good behavior—since the death of her sister.
How far will she go to get it back?
Pretty far. First, a gambling hall. And when her first efforts aren’t successful, she’ll even accept help from Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart, her brother’s former best friend whom she admired as a child, despite his hellion reputation. That reputation has only grown worse, and for good reason. Throughout his life, Paul sought to instigate responses from his cold, cruel father by being a debauched wastrel, and now he has to confront the sins of his past.
He wants to be a better man, but redemption is hard in an elite society where people remember everything, especially those who break convention. Society’s censure is worst when it comes to women, a fact that drives Daphne to search for her journal even harder once a page from her journal is printed in a famous rag newspaper (ahh, worst nightmare!).
Helping Daphne find her journal can be a way for Paul to win some favor back from her brother. It’s another way for him to redeem himself. But Paul and Daphne are also drawn to one another, despite both being aware of the obstacles they face. Can Daphne forgive Paul for the man he was? And more important, can Paul find himself worthy of lasting happiness?
The Good, the Bad, and the Duke is the second MacGregor book that I’ve read, and there was so much that I enjoyed about it. MacGregor is a fine writer who skillfully portrays the elite society the characters live in—their homes, their dress, their motivations and fears. And she doesn’t hold back in the physical department. The interactions between Paul and Daphne are flirtatious, provocative, and surprisingly steamy. Daphne is particularly enjoyable on this end—she’s imaginative and bold in ways that I admired and appreciated (even if I was a little confused about where all of that came from, given her innocence and the time period, etc.).
The romance between them was beautiful—how they each see something in the other that others don’t see. That’s what I loved most about this sweet, seductive book. Both Paul and Daphne have second chances to re-invent themselves. For Paul, it’s about becoming someone better; for Daphne, it’s about becoming someone less outwardly perfect. And if the characters are brave enough, they can meet each other in the middle.
**I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley, but all opinions provided are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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