Wednesday, February 8, 2017

ARC Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

Series:     Victorian Rebels #4
Pub. Date:Feb. 7, 2017
Publisher:St. Martin's Press
Length:384 pages
Source:NetGalley

It's no secret that I am huge fan of Kerrigan Byrne's Victorian Rebels series. I just love that this historical romance series has a darker theme, somewhat reminiscent of the days of the bodice ripper when historicals had more drama, action and strife than the modern historicals more common today.

Imogen Pritchard fell on hard times when she was left facing the gambling debts of her recently deceased father. With a younger sister and ailing mother to support, Imogen is burning the candle at both ends, working as a nurse by day and in forced servitude at night in repayment of her father's debt. Her willingness to work in these circumstances without complaining made her a sympathetic heroine... more so when her circumstances improve and she works to help others who are in need. Her dire situation and improved circumstances also came with quite a bit of character growth. Imogen is no longer the meek and shy young lady, but has transformed into a bold and brash woman in bright colors who is determined to have her way no matter what her neighbors think. 

We met Collin "Cole" Talmage, Duke of Trenwyth earlier in the series and I knew that he was going to have a very sad story. Never expecting to become a duke, he inherited after his entire family was killed in an horrible accident. Grieving for his loss, one night Cole loses himself in whisky and the warm embrace of a serving girl at a notorious brothel. It is this memory that Cole turns to during his long stint as a prisoner of war where he suffers unimaginably. Now he is returned as a tortured war hero, with a ravaged soul that yearns for the one bright light he remembers - Ginny. But while Cole searches for Ginny, he must also battle with his hoydenish neighbor, Imogen.

The romance between our main characters was both fascinating and sad. They were both broken in their own way, but they were also both completely headstrong and unwilling to bend. Cole was unbearably rude to Imogen at times, but I commend her on the ease with which she seemed to forgive him. There was definitely explosive chemistry between the two, but there were secrets between them and Cole's pining for the lost Ginny. This put a dampener on the relationship so it wasn't quite as much of a grand passion as I felt we got from earlier books in the series. But nothing brings one of Kerrigan's heroes up to scratch like a little bit of danger directed at a woman of their acquaintance, and we see that again with The Duke.

I thought the suspense/danger aspect of this story was particularly good. Bodies of women, strangled and debased, have been found around London and Inspector Morley with Scotland Yard, and all our prior heroes, work together to find the killer. The killer's identity was not predictable and the reveal and circumstances surprised me in the end. I continue to love Kerrigan's imagery in some of her scenes and descriptions, and I absolutely loved this passage:
I will love you for your light, if you can love me through the dark times. And that love will be like the clear night sky when the moon is full. Not like the sun ... but beautiful and bright enough to find our way.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, St. Martin's Press.

Victorian Rebels

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