It’s one thing when your mother is an eccentric lady with a penchant for live poultry; it’s quite another when you’re the Duke of Worth, your mother is the dowager duchess, and the haute ton is gleefully gossiping about her. He’s been loathe to deal with the situation, but then he arrives at her home for a dinner party to find the guests fleeing, the dining room in shambles, chickens roosting on the sideboard and a woman with a live snake around her neck. It was obvious things had gotten out of hand, and he decides at that moment to move in and take charge.
William Somerhall, Duke of Worth, has always been a charming rogue, content to live his privileged life away from his mother. He raises racehorses, and does his best to leave the duties of his estate to his staff. He hasn’t been close to his mother for years, so he’s not quite sure why he made the impulsive decision to spend time with her, but it might have something to do with the lady with the snake. Jenna Hughes is his mother’s companion, and she is also the woman that he has been looking for ever since seeing her at a ball some months ago. This was in the first book, ‘I’ve Got My Duke To Keep Me Warm’. She looks quite different in her plain gown, but he’s astounded that she’s been under his nose all along.
To say his plan meets with dismay from his mother Eleanor, and Jenna, is an understatement. The two of them have been working together for some time to maintain a facade of eccentricity for the purposes of helping those in need. If William is poking around, they won’t be able to carry out their plans so they decide to distract him and hope that he gets bored and returns to London. However, as Jenna spends more time with him, she realizes that he isn’t just another handsome ‘fribble of a man’, and that he’s an intelligent, caring person who is just oblivious to the plight of others not as fortunate as he is.
The banter between the two of them is well done, along with the sexual tension that simmers to a boiling point. Jenna is like no other woman he’d known; she’s pulled herself out of bad situation where she had been alone and penniless, having a miscarriage after her fiance left her. Eleanor befriended her at a horse auction, sensing a kindred spirit. They are basically running a scam to fleece funds from the members of the peerage who do not pay their debts.
Eventually, Will discovers the extent of their secrets, along with finding that his feelings for Jenna have grown into a deeper emotion than just simple desire. He grows a lot along the way, realizing that he needs to do more as a duke than just live frivolously. He and his mother come to a new understanding as well when he sees that her crusade comes from having to deal with his controlling father.
This book starts out in sweet and flirty manner, before delving into the seedier side of life at that time in history. Ms Bowen manages to combine the two in a believable manner, along with a hot romance that is a joy to read. The secondary characters are all well integrated to the plot, and entertaining in their own way. I enjoyed learning more about Eleanor as well. This book is definitely a keeper for me.