When the Duke Was Wicked by Lorraine Heath

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They are England’s most eligible bachelors, with the most scandalous reputations. But for the right woman, even an unrepentant rogue may mend his ways . . .
Lady Grace Mabry’s ample inheritance has made it impossible for her to tell whether a suitor is in love with her— or enamored of her riches. Who better to distinguish beau from blackguard than her notorious childhood friend, the Duke of Lovingdon?

With no interest in marriage, Lovingdon has long lived only for pleasure. He sees little harm in helping Grace find a proper match. He simply has to teach the lovely innocent all the ploys a scoundrel uses to gain a woman’s favor— by demonstrating his wicked ways. But as lessons lead to torrid passion and Grace becomes ensnared in another man’s marriage plot, Lovingdon must wage a desperate gamble: Open his heart fully—or risk losing the woman he adores . .

Publisher and Release Date: Avon, February 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: London, 1874
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2.5
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Lady Blue

The Duke of Lovingdon’s life was shattered when his beloved wife and young daughter died of typhus. After this, he changed from the upstanding, rule-following, faithful man he was to become a drinking, gambling womanizer. He is approached by his childhood friend, Grace Mabry, who seeks his assistance in helping her to determine whether men are courting her for her large dowry, or for true affection for her.

Unknown to Lovingdon, Grace has loved him since childhood, and watched him marry another. She has determined to get on with her life, and has no hope now that Lovingdon can love her, but perhaps he can help her to pick a suitor who does. He agrees to help her, which naturally throws them into each other’s company. Grace finds herself falling even more in love with him, and Lovingdon begins to feel desire for her.

We learn in bits and pieces that Grace has suffered some trauma, and bears scars. The details aren’t revealed until later in the book. Lovingdon finally succumbs to his desire for Grace, and as they become intimate, his treatment of her scars is so lovely, that it brought tears to my eyes. He proposes, but when Grace asks if he loves her, he only admits to caring, and says that he will never allow himself to feel the type of pain again he felt when his wife and child died. Hearing that, Grace refuses him.

Without giving spoilers, it takes an unwanted suitor to set off the events that will finally bring these two together. Despite himself, Lovingdon does love Grace, and he finally comes to realize that whatever time he can spend with her is worth any pain he may feel if he should lose her. Both Grace and Lovingdon have suffered loss, and have decided to be brave and embrace life, and love each other. I loved both these characters, and this story is full of poignant moments. The very short epilogue is once again tear inducing, and just the perfect ending. I adore this book, and am already wanting to read it again.

(Both Grace and Lovingdon are children of characters in stories from Lorraine Heath’s previous series, The Scoundrels of St. James, which I also highly recommend.)

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