The Premise: Leopold Dautry, the Duke of Villiers, has been a bit careless when it comes to siring illegitimate children–several of whom have disappeared thanks to the machinations of an unscrupulous solicitor. He has six of them and, after nearly dying in a duel, he decides that he is going to raise them as if they were legitimate. Only a duke’s daughter possesses the social clout necessary to bully society into accepting this course of action and there are only two eligible candidates: Eleanor, who is still in love with her childhood sweetheart; and Lisette, who is impetuous, imaginative, and too delicate to go out in society. Villiers must choose one of these women to be his wife and the mother of his children. (Cover image from www.avonromance.com.)
Bonus Factors: charming children, orphanages, madness, house parties, dandies, impertinent ladies, dogs
My Reaction: True confession: I read this one in August because I thought it was a standalone. I was so disappointed to learn that it was the last in the Desperate Duchesses series. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I’d had the appropriate context. Villiers undergoes a pretty substantial transformation throughout the series (heartless, careless, feckless dandy in Desperate Duchesses to worthy husband and father by the end of A Duke of Her Own). Eleanor was excellent, however, without context and it was a fun read. Except for the part where Lisette did that thing. Unforgivable.
Rating: 2/4 chili peppers (1 being a step above a sex-free gentle romance, 4 being an all-sex-and-no-plot romance)