Spinster Miss Eleanor Lockhart is suddenly homeless and employment is her only option. Ruined after succumbing to a scoundrel’s excessive charm nearly a decade ago, she’s lucky to obtain a position as a paid companion and committed to behaving with the utmost propriety. She definitely shouldn’t be in the arms of a man capable of utterly destroying what little remains of her reputation…
Titus St. John, Duke of Kendal, is known as the Forbidden Duke, a mysterious, intimidating figure who enters Society just once each year at his stepmother’s ball. A decade ago, he was a devil-may-care rake until his idle roguery brought about the ruin of Eleanor Lockhart—and his resulting self-imposed isolation. Now she’s back, and she needs his help. But by “saving” her, he may just ruin her life all over again.
Publisher and Release Date: Darcy Burke, March 2016
Time and Setting: 1811 England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Lady Cicely
One social faux pas leads to a life as a pariah for one. Guilt leads to a life of solitude for another.
Miss Eleanor (Nora) Lockhart has accepted her banishment to her father’s house, minimal contact with her beloved sister, and few friends. What she isn’t prepared for is the announcement that she will no longer have a home. With her father making bad investments he is forced to move to a cottage on his sister’s estate, a cottage too small for Nora to be able to join him. Living with her sister will be forbidden by her husband, the vicar. Returning to the aunt who sponsored her first Season is out of the question as Nora was vehemently told to never return. Her only option appears to be to find a situation as a lady’s companion; as long as her past doesn’t get in the way.
Titus St. John, fifth Duke of Kendal, lived a life as a rake of the first order until one night a decade earlier forever changed the life of a young debutante. Feeling partly responsible, Titus has spent the last several years as something of a recluse, making one social appearance each year – at his stepmother’s annual ball where he dances one dance with a female who is in need of a boost in society then he takes his leave. This social avoidance has earned him the nickname “The Forbidden Duke”; a position he embraces fully until fate brings the past roaring back to him.
Hired at her first interview, Nora is determined to do her job while hoping no one remembers her. Alas, life is not so kind; although no remarks are made directly there are much twittering and laughing behind fans. Knowing of Titus’ reputation, Nora is surprised when he asks her to dance; is this at his stepmother’s request or a decision of his own? Whatever the reason, the dance leaves her a little flustered and reminding herself it is just a dance and she is no longer the naïve girl she was a decade ago.
Titus attributes his choice of Nora as his dance partner to the guilt he feels at his part in her being shunned by society, not the fact that she fascinates him. But it is a fascination that has him deviating from his normal routine and remaining for the duration of the ball, although alone in the study and not in the ballroom. He’s conflicted to learn that his dance with Nora caused others to notice her – which was the point, but still, he is taken off guard when his stepmother announces she wants to give Nora the season she deserves. He vows to help give her the type of life she deserves which has him making appearances in society he would normally shun.
Nora is appreciative of the season sponsored by Lady Satterfield but soon realizes she misses the quietness of her life before being forced to return to London. She’s unsure of the attentions she’s receiving from two gentlemen; all she can think about is Titus, especially when he keeps turning up at society events he would normally avoid.
The Forbidden Duke is the first in Darcy Burke’s new series The Untouchables. It is a well written tale of how one’s choices affects the lives of many. Nora is written as a strong woman who has accepted what her choices have cost her without wallowing in pity. Ms. Burke could have written Titus as man consumed with guilt who projects himself as untouchable and left it at that; however, she adds subtle layers to allow the reader to see the man inside and how his guilt has affected his life.
The epilogue gives hints of more stories to come and I, for one, am looking forward to reading about the next Untouchable.
I enjoyed the book and would recommend to fans of the author, new readers and lovers of historical romance in general.