Once Upon A Romance

Once Upon A Romance's Review Of...
The Secret Duke by Jo Beverley


Cover art: The Secret Duke Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: The Secret Duke - 8th in the Malloren series
Author: Jo Beverley
Publisher: Signet
ISBN-13: 978-0-451-22953-3
Release Date: February 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Historical Romance
Year/Setting: England, 1764
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild
Violent Content Rating: Minimal
Jo's Website/Blog: www.jobev.com

Bella Barstowe is in quite a predicament. She’s with a group of rowdy men in a tavern in Dover. She’s afraid for her virtue and her life…when suddenly the notorious Captain Rose rescues her. Overall, she’s not really sure her situation has improved with him as her new apparent captor. She manages to steak his horse and flees Dover into the night.

Fast forward four years later when Bella has been kept as a virtual prisoner in her own home. Punishment for ‘running away’. Nobody believes she was abducted and she refuses to bow to her family’s wishes of admitting her guilt…since she wasn’t guilty in the first place. She often thinks of Captain Rose and wonders about him, even though she knows she will never see him again.

When the opportunity comes for her to leave her home and move to London, she quickly takes that chance and leaves. When she finally learns the truth about her abduction, she turns to the only man she knows who could help her, Captain Rose. She doesn’t realize that Captain Rose is a disguise for the Duke of Ithorne and that he’s very intrigued by her reappearance. He entangles himself into her problem and as they work together, they are fighting a growing passion while trying to protect their own secrets. Will they be able to come out unscathed, or could their actions be seen as treason and cost them their lives?

While this is part of a series, I must say that I fully believed this book to be it’s own novel. I was surprised to read that it is part of a series since it read so well as a stand-alone book. Jo Beverley takes a bit of a "Prince and the Pauper" theme and manages to turn it into something totally new and equally brilliant. I was enraptured from the beginning and never saw the many curve balls coming. The action kept changing and as Bella and Captain Rose became more involved, they each had to work harder and harder to cover the secrets they were hiding.

Bella is a fantastic woman who reminds me of Meryl Streep. She’s deep and very intelligent and stands up for what she believes, but you never know what character she might be playing or what costume she might show up wearing. There’s never a dull moment with Bella around and I laughed at some of the situations she managed to get herself into.

The Captain/Duke is a wonderful compliment to Bella’s many faces. While he only wears one disguise, I loved how he becomes Captain Rose to regain some of his youthful zeal and sense of adventure. I loved his sense of responsibility and helping the underdog right the wrongs of the world. He’s a man I would want to have as my friend or lover.

I was captivated by the entire story and the events that occurred. Jo Beverly did a fantastic job of weaving actual people, places and events throughout the story that it gave it more depth and believability. I look forward to reading more from this series.


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