The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Rowena is faced with the choice between marrying a monster or marrying a complete stranger, her decision takes her far away from the only home she has ever known and puts her right in the path of a dangerous pair of siblings who will stop at nothing to take the priceless treasure they are certain her new husband is hiding.
Having read all three books in this series, and loved every one of them, I almost feel disloyal picking a favorite. However, I cannot help but think if I did have a favorite, this would be it.
Roseanna M. White creates beautiful characters with such intricacies and depth the reader cannot help but want to follow them through their story. Characters who seem perfect in the beginning slowly reveal their flaws, as other characters who seem broken and fragile reveal their strengths.
For a long time, I have wanted to read a story where two people grew in their relationship with each other and fall in love after they were married. In the two or three books I have read where this was the setup, the romance happened too quickly and did not make sense. I appreciated the fact that, in this book, the author took the time to develop the relationship AND THE CHARACTERS so the reader could truly appreciate the romance when it finally, and fully, blossomed.
I LOVED the dynamic between Rowena and Brice. Though neither one of them sought out the relationship, once it was decided, they approached it with the perspective that they would make it work. There were several character-defining moments in the story when their commitment was tested because of Rowena's insecurities and Brice's pride. The author is very adept at revealing character flaws while at the same time showing their strength
Experiencing Rowena's transition from broken and frightened to confident and strong was a constant pull on my heartstrings. I wanted to hug her to tell her it would all be alright and I wanted to cheer her on with each step she took outside of her shell. At the beginning of the book, I already loved Brice. Having read The Lost Heiress, I knew already that he was a strong character and looked forward to the opportunity to know him more. Through his relationship with Rowena, he revealed even more of his beautiful, compassionate heart, even as he showed some of his flaws.
Both characters were interesting and quirky in their own ways. Brice's personality is charming and flirtatious, but never inappropriately so. He has a keen insight into other people and a deep faith and spiritual intuition that allows him to sense things others cannot. Some of my favorite parts in the book were the moments when he would receive urgings from God to do something, particularly if he did not want to do them. Rowena has been hurt, physically and emotionally, by people close to her. While she protects herself and is slow to trust others, she longs for genuine love and affection. She also has a curiosity about others which makes her want to understand them.
If you enjoyed The Lost Heiress, you will love The Reluctant Duchess. Readers will enjoy seeing their favorite characters from the previous book and getting to know other characters even more.
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