Duchess Decadence by Wendy La Capra

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London, 1784

Thea Worthington, Duchess of Wynchester divides her time between social engagements and playing her luck against fickle fortune. Yet every gamble is only a bluff—a means to hide from the pain deep within her, and the loss of a babe she never held in her arms. Now Thea’s luck is about to run out. Her estranged husband has returned and seeks a reunion…

Plagued with guilt over what happened to his wife three years ago, the Duke of Wynchester has kept his distance. The duke is resolved to piece his family back together, especially now that he’s discovered his beloved brother—long thought dead—still lives. But Thea’s lovely, porcelain facade is on the verge of cracking…spurred on by the duke’s brother’s secretive, malevolent animosity.

With everything riding on her future, Thea plays a daring game of chance for love and her marriage…and this time, the dice are most certainly rigged.

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Publisher and Release Date: Entangled Scandalous, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: England, 1784
Genre: Historical romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

This is the third installment in Wendy LaCapra’s Furies series. The Furies are three strong-willed and independent women – well, as independent as can be in Georgian England – who share a devoted friendship and spend their days gambling and socializing in the usual way of the aristocracy.

But there’s much more to it than that. Politics, personal pain, and espionage also play a large part in their dealings, especially with the powerful and gorgeous men in their lives.

That said, I really feel I missed a lot coming into this series at its finale. The multi-layered plot is confusing at times and I found that very frustrating. I know I would have enjoyed the book even more if I had read the others.

Thea Marie and her husband Wynchester (Wyn), the Duke and Duchess of Worthington, have been estranged for four years. A match made when they were children, they had a conventional and very formal marriage, typical of the time. Wyn feared sentiment and so he avoided it by always keeping Thea at arm’s length when she desperately wanted more from him.

But then the terror of the Gordon Riots happened and Thea lost a child, but only after some family heirloom sapphires disappeared and a trust was broken. Suspicion arose about who stole the jewels – Thea or Wyn’s younger brother, Eustace – and Thea resented Wyn for doubting her despite the fact that Wyn sent Eustace away. So Thea left Wyn and found a home near her close friends Sophia (Lady Scandal) and Lavinia (Lady Vice) — aka the Furies — in London.

Now the political wind is changing and Wyn is in danger. Thea has an opportunity to protect him by reuniting with him and, to avoid telling him so, she challenges him to a game of dice. If he wins, she will return to him for the summer. If she wins, he will give her a divorce. The Furies’ reasoning – and that of their very involved significant others – is that, by returning to Wyn, the couple can present a united front against any plots against him. But more importantly, this time Wyn has a chance to make their marriage flourish in a new and loving way. Now he fears Thea’s rejection if he reveals too much feeling.

Words gathered against a dam in his throat, the whole was love—but who was he to speak such emotions?

Eustace, Wyn’s wayward and immature brother, has just returned from abroad where he has been with the East India Company. For some reason, he hates Thea with a vengeance and she suspects he wants to usurp Wyn as duke but an even larger scandal is hinted at.

As I have said, I admit to being very confused while reading and often had to re-read sections. And even then I’m not sure I completely understand everything. Also, the couples from the first two books are prominent, though secondary characters in this story, so there is a lot more going on that I missed.

This is my first Wendy LaCapra book and she writes a good romance that flows easily and engagingly. The protagonists are complex, vulnerable, and likeable and the love story is often emotional. The love scenes are sensual and there are many tear-jerking moments, especially in the beginning when Wyn and Thea first reconcile. The overall tone of the novel is melancholy as it’s about two people who have grown and matured and can now treat the other with unabashed tenderness. For example, Wyn’s thoughtful gifts to Thea are affecting and considerate. They begin to heal and save their estranged marriage.

“I came back to save you. Instead, I saved me.”

I especially enjoyed the frank and humorous discussions about sex between the Furies but again, feel that I would have got even more out of them had I read the previous books and seen the friendship grow and develop from its beginning.

There are many vivid period details that depict the Georgian era – Queen Charlotte, Allan Ramsay, wigs, powdered hair, elaborate fashions — sprinkled throughout the novel that add life and give a clear sense of time and place.

If you enjoy second-chance love stories and are prepared to catch up with the earlier books in the series, then Duchess Decadence could be the book for you.

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