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Feature book: The Devilish Duke

19 September 2018

The Devilish Duke by Maddison Michaels

Subgenre: historical romance
Release date: 26 Feb 2018
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: ebook
Length: 335 pages
RRP: A$9.79

Maddison Michaels’ debut Victorian romance is a stunner. It even begins with a cameo from Queen Victoria herself. I was delighted, especially after the recent Victoria TV mini-series where I fell a bit in love with Victoria and her Albert.

Devlin Markham (Huntington) is the so-called devilish duke of the title. He’s a bit of a rogue, a bit naughty in the past, and doesn’t really care about his reputation. But now he needs a wife, and it might have something to do with a not-too-subtle suggestion from the afore-mentioned Queen, tangled up with business he’s trying to convince the Queen England requires. Victoria’s a canny lass: you get married and I’ll think about what you suggest, she says.

So, with a little emotional blackmail regarding funding for an orphanage, he becomes betrothed to the delightful Lady Sophie Wolcott. This orphanage was her mother’s pet project and Sophie champions it rigorously, giving orphans an education and a safe and warm home to grow. Already she’s a winner in my eyes by doing this. She uses balls and functions to circulate and shamelessly charm donations from the wealthy.

Sophie’s known as ‘eccentric’ for all this orphanage work and is definitely not interested in getting married for the sake of it, especially to the devil duke. To his amusement she is, of course, highly resistant to his charms—until he dangles the financial orphanage carrot under her nose, which makes her reassess.

Sophie’s intelligent and lovely through and through, a brilliant heroine who keeps Huntington regularly flummoxed through the whole book, which is such a joy to watch. Their dialogue is sparkling, all the better for when they get a bit narky or wildly impassioned by something. I kept laughing at their conversations, the snappy to-and-fro was such fun to read as they tried to outwit (or convince) the other of something.

I did particularly love a (cough) ‘bonding’ session between Sophie’s brother and Devlin. They give each other a couple of cracked ribs and smash up a room in their zeal to each ‘protect’ Sophie from the other. And yes, at the end of the fight a grudging respect grows between the two men amongst the bruises. Snort. Boys! Still … hopefully we see this very interesting brother again …? Please, Maddison?

Lurking with intent around this fabulous romance is someone who bears a grudge from the past. A killer has become so unhinged by his chilling quest that everyone is in danger. This dramatic turn of events grows diabolically more horrible through the story and produces a breathtaking climax. I tried to guess the villain early on, and I guessed wrong. Quite a few red herrings abound!

What a winning debut from Maddison Michaels. I can’t wait for her second book.

Reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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