While I don’t want to take too much time talking about myself in a book review, I do want to explain my sporadic review writing over the last few months. In short, 2020 was a year to be remembered, and it was often difficult to find the motivation to read and write. Fortunately, thanks to many—to borrow a word from this very book—charming things to read, I am hopefully back on the road to productivity.

But on to the book!

Jane Kent is a penniless waif who shows up on the doorstep of the esteemed Penhallow manse. She claims to have a connection to the family, and the letter she produces, as well as the strong family resemblance, is all the Penhallows need to take her in as one of their own.

Although Jane is twenty years old, she has never received a formal education, and arrangements are made for her receive tutelage from the local vicar, whose only other pupil is eight-year-old Wakefield Farr, the only son of the Duke of Radcliffe, the titular worst duke in the world.

Anthony has gained this appellation from his refusal to conform to his sister’s idea of what a duke should be. Anthony would much rather wear old clothes and take care of his prize pig than look for a wife. He is not in mourning for his first wife, and furthermore, since he did not enjoy the experience of being married, he has no desire to repeat the experience. His sister Margaret ignores his wishes, and constantly invites families with eligible daughters to stay, hoping to persuade Anthony to remarry.

I realize, as I am writing this, that I’m making him sound unappealing, but I promise that Anthony is one of the sweetest and most tenderhearted heroes I have ever had the pleasure of encountering. His disposition is much more introverted than the typical romance novel hero, and that’s what makes him so likeable. He is fiercely devoted to his son, and quite kind to those who treat him with respect. Even when he realizes that he’s attracted to Jane, he’s very respectful, and makes sure that he has her consent.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. It was simply delightful from start to finish. There’s very little in the way of melodrama, and most of the angst comes in the form of pining. Wakefield stole the show at every possible opportunity with his mispronunciations of multisyllabic words. I loved especially that Jane was nice to Wake because she genuinely appreciated his company, and not because she hoped it would impress the duke. She is perhaps the most surprised of anyone to have captured the duke’s attention.

I would absolutely recommend The Worst Duke in the World. After a difficult year, I needed a lighthearted funny book, and this was the perfect remedy. I found myself smiling throughout. This is not my first experience reading one of Berne’s Penhallow books, and I have plans to read the rest of the series as soon as possible.

I received an ARC of this book from Avon/Netgalley.

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