The Silent Duke is the fourth book in Jess Michaels’ 1797 Club series of historical romance novels. I have not read any of the previous books in this series, but I belong to a group for fans of romance novels, and this book came up in response to a query about atypical heroes. Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book.
Ewan is the Duke of Donburrow, but his ascension to the dukedom was somewhat controversial. He is mute, and when he was a child, his father attempted to have him declared incompetent and relegated to an asylum. Ewan was rescued by relatives, who protected him from the machinations of his immediate family. Ewan inherited the title when his father passed away, despite the protests from his younger brothers.
As the story begins, Charlotte arrives at Ewan’s home for Christmas. She is a childhood friend who always advocated for him, even when she was a small girl. She helped him develop a means of communication by using his hands- Regency Sign Language, if you will. She is one of many people who are supposed to fill the house for the holiday. However, bad weather and subsequent flooding prevent everyone else from reaching the house. This means that aside from the household staff, Charlotte and Ewan are alone in the house. Charlotte finally has the opportunity to tell Ewan that she has always loved him, and wants their relationship to move from friendship to something even more special.
Their chemistry is palpable, and given that they are alone in the house together, there is not much more that they can do than explore the physical aspects of a relationship. And golly, do they take advantage of their cloistered conditions! But Ewan doesn’t believe their relationship is sustainable beyond the holiday season; he feels that his condition renders him inadequate, and this will spread to Charlotte as well. Will Charlotte be able to convince him otherwise?
I absolutely loved this book. It’s clear that Ewan and Charlotte have always cared for each other, and this is a wonderful example of the friends-to-lovers trope. But I was also fascinated by Ewan’s accomplishments; he might be unable to speak, but he compensates for this by communicating via notebooks, or when he is with Charlotte, she will translate for him. There is a level of angst here, because what the reader might see as accomplishments, Ewan sees as shortcomings. He cares for Charlotte, but he simply cannot see a happy future for them.
I would recommend The Silent Duke to fans of historical romance. This book functions well as a standalone novel, so you don’t have to read the books in order. That said, I am very happy to have discovered Jess Michaels, and I am looking forward to catching up on the first three 1797 Club books as well as reading future entries in the series!
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.