I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Duke is the fourth book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series. I have not read any of the other books in this series, nor have I read any of Byrne’s other books. That’s okay, I’m always optimistic about new authors, and Regency/Victorian books are my favorite genre of historical romance- so I went into this book with high hopes.
Imogen and Cole are thrown together by chance. She stands out in his eyes because she is the only one to offer him condolences for the loss of his family rather than congratulating him for his elevation to duke as a result of the aforementioned loss. They spend one amazing night together, but then they have to part ways because Cole has a top secret Big Mission.
When Imogen and Cole encounter each other again, several years have elapsed. Cole has returned to England alive, but broken. He was captured, tortured, and he even lost one of his hands. He doesn’t recognize Imogen as the young woman who he spent the night with, and why would he? Her circumstances have changed, as has her appearance. Needless to say, things are rather acrimonious between Imogen and Cole, but the more time they spend in each other’s company, the harder it is for them to deny their mutual attraction. But Imogen’s life may be danger, and Cole just might be the only one who can protect her.
Byrne is hardly the first to feature a tortured hero with a dark past who must overcome his Issues, but she does a wonderful job with fleshing out Cole’s motivations. He has experienced devastating loss and betrayal, so it is only natural that he is going to be guarded and suspicious. Likewise, Imogen finds herself in a completely different station in life, and everything that she has built hinges upon her reputation. If anyone were to discover her past, she would be ruined.
I would absolutely recommend The Duke. I am accustomed to lighter historicals, but Byrne tackles serious material with ease. There was so much tension as Cole struggled to uncover the past, and Imogen desperately tried to conceal the past. It certainly made for an interesting combination! I am pleased to have discovered Kerrigan Byrne; I am looking forward to reading more of her books, especially since the heroes of the other books in this series are minor characters in this book!