THE DUKE'S STOLEN BRIDE – Sophie Jordan
The Rogue Files – Book 5
Avon Books
ISBN-10: 006288543X
ISBN-13: 978-0062885432
ASIN: B07N7KPW4G
October 22, 2019
Historical Romance

Brambledon, Derbyshire, England – 19 th Century

Marian Langley is in deep financial trouble which even her work cannot overcome. Her father, Brambledon's only doctor, suddenly died, leaving no financial protection for his family. Marian tries to keep her younger brother in school while her younger sisters, Charlotte and Norma, remain at home and need her protection. Right now, they are all hungry. She is in debt to most of the businesses in town, and to avoid an angry debt holder, she ducks into the town's tavern and hides under one of its tables, the tablecloth preventing her exposure. The person sitting at the table isn't pleased, but he does not expose her whereabouts to the man charging in and asking where she went. Eventually Marian learns the man is his grace, the Duke of Warrington, known locally as ‘the depraved duke,' for rumor claims many wayward women visit him. One wealthy man in town obsessively wants Marian to marry him, but she cannot stand him. The encounter with the duke gives her an idea. She needs to become a courtesan to support her family.

As a child, Nathaniel, while already holding the title duke, was not wanted by his mother or his stepfather. He usually remained at school, and as a younger, smaller child, he was bullied by other students. Since leaving school he has grown into a tall, well-built man, but he eschews most of his school mates, who now see him as a friend, along with his mother and stepfather. The one person with whom he spent an enjoyable summer he married, although she didn't remember that summer. Since then she has died in childbirth. Now he wants no close relationships with anyone. After a second run-in with the woman who hid under his table, the woman approaches Nate with the proposition that he teaches her how to please a man, so she can become a courtesan, but no actual consummation between them would take place. After all, selling her virginal status could bring large earnings. After much hesitation, and a sizable bet with a friend, Nate finally agrees.

The unique situation set up in THE DUKE'S STOLEN BRIDE develops into an interesting story, but while both Nate and Marian feel a building regard for each other in their secret but sexually hot encounters, each also knows the other doesn't want love. Nor does the disregarded suitor give up on his intended bride which leads to some dangerous interactions. The story revolves around the love lessons, so has some scorching scenes, but Nate's and Marian's developing relationship are what create the captivating passion of the story.

Robin Lee