The Madame Catches Her Duke by Christina McKnight
In The Madame Catches Her Duke, Christina McKnight returns to her brilliant Craven House series about the children of a disgraced marchioness and infamous brothel owner. This time it is the turn of the eldest daughter, Lady Marce Davenport, to find love.
Marce has sacrificed more than her siblings will ever know to give them a good life and a chance at happiness. A deal made years ago with Rowan Delconti, the ruthless Duke of Harwich, has caused her to keep too many secrets for too long. Now she’s done with the arrogant Duke… or she will be, once she manages to extricate herself from the tangled web of lies the pair of them have woven to keep his ill mother happy.
It’s not until Marce declares her intention of walking away that Rowan realizes he doesn’t really know her at all. Watching him come to the understanding that he’s been utterly and completely wrong about her all this time was fabulously vindicating after the rotten, disrespectful way he treated her. In the end, I truly felt they belonged together.
There were a few instances where the story felt a little contrived, to me. I didn’t quite buy that a marchioness would have no recourse if her stepson turned her out after her husband’s death - at the very least, the newspapers would seize on such a scandalous story with glee, and Lady Sasha already had nothing left to lose. Powerful men always have enemies and one of them would surely have been delighted to assist her. In addition, the notion of a former brothel now being just a place to gamble seems rather pointless, in that there were plenty of gentlemen’s clubs where they could do exactly that. Why bother to frequent Craven House without the presence of the ladies?
I thoroughly enjoyed the romance between Marce and Rowan, but the contrivances to make the story work knock this one down to a four-star read for me. Still very enjoyable, though!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through Barclay Publicity.