The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White
Ladies of the Manor #2
Bethany House Publishers
❤ Official Synopsis ❤
Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough—not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar and the men who have jeopardized her life.
Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has suddenly found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of his neighbor, Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when the moody Earl of Lochabar tries to trap Brice into marrying Rowena, Brice finds he’s not as opposed to the idea as he expected to be.
Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to resort to marrying a notorious flirt just to gain his English home. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in some kind of questionable business with a stolen treasure, she ’fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.
❤ My Thoughts ❤
I already liked Brice in The Lost Heiress so I couldn't imagine that changing from one book to the next. I was right, I still like him. Brice is just one of those affable Edwardian men, almost better suited in nature to the early 1930s, sort of like Bertie Wooster. However, while the parts of the story that focus on him are somewhat lighthearted, the parts with the heroine. Rowena, are not. So if talk of rape and physical abuse disturb you, keep that in mind before reading Ms. White's latest novel.
Having just recently uncovered Scottish ancestry, I appreciated the time spent in Scotland and was somewhat disappointed that it didn't last longer. The Highlands were so intriguing, even with the rough and tumble people, and I almost wish we could have spent longer in them. However, it was not meant to be, and that turned out alright in the end because it meant reuniting with Brook and Justin back in England.
Even though the summary is a bit vague on the subject, Brice and Rowena do marry. He's literally know her less than 48 hours when they tie the knot and she's so panicked because of the attack she suffered that he has no intention of consummating anything. What I like about Brice is that he seems to verbally hear God's voice. When he met Rowena, God told him to "protect her." And instead of balking at the idea of marrying a Highlander, a woman whose clothes are outmoded and her manners so timid, he married her instead. Yes, I'm making him seem like some white knight, but really, Brice's marriage to Rowena happened out of his immense compassion for her pain and from his desire to keep her safe. I admire a man like that.
The two grow in their relationship with one another. Rowena discovers that she is of value and worth and that she has much to offer the world around her. And Brice learns that flippancy in his relational interactions leads to great harm because people never know when to take him seriously or not. See, even a strong Christian man like Brice has his weak points. In the end, of course, they fall deeply in love, a love made even stronger by the admirable restraint and patience that Brice exhibited towards his broken young bride.
I do feel the plot in this one is slightly more convoluted than in the first novel, and some aspects of it felt almost like a complete repeat of its predecessor, such as the maid who falls in love with another servant, etc. When Stella Abbott, longtime childhood friend to Brice and his sister Ella, first came on the scene I was hopeful that she didn't appear to be stereotypically in love with Brice. Well, that didn't last. I rather wish Stella had been left out of the story completely since it felt like she bogged it down and her vengeful chapters really didn't quite fit in with the rest of the book.I'm not sure why Stella didn't fully work for me . . . not something I can put my finger on. But it wasn't really enough to dampen by enjoyment of the novel on the whole.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this second edition to the Ladies of the Manor trilogy. A third and final book will be published likely sometime within 2017, this time following the story of Brice's sister, Ella, who I like but don't know all that well and am curious to see who in the world would be a decent match for her. Possibly Geoffrey Abbott, dreaded Stella's brother, and a minister to boot.
* I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
(all my historic novel reviews)