ABOUT A ROGUE: Desperately Seeking Duke – Caroline Linden
Next Duke Up – Book 1
June 30, 2020
The unexpected death of Stephen St. James, vicar of St. Mary's and youngest brother of His Grace the Duke of Carlyle, was devastating to his mother Sophia, the Duchess of Carlyle. Long ago an accident turned the mind of her son the duke into that of a child. He never married and will never have children. Who will take over one of the wealthiest dukedoms in England? Her solicitor, Mr. Edwards, tells her of three possible distant cousins who are eligible. One is a captain with His Majesty's Scots Guards, one a gamester and known rogue, and the last a Frenchman, who might not even hold the Carlyle blood. The duchess thinks they are all undeserving.
Maximilian St. James is an adept gamester. To be called to Carlyle Castle by the current duchess is a surprise, but besides curiosity, one of Max's best abilities is to take advantage of every opportunity. It was necessary just to survive. Once, when his mother had asked for help, this Carlyle family had sent her five pounds while she and her son were starving. He is a perceptive man and knows the duchess is both dismissive and disapproving of him. Still, she gives him 500 pounds and promises him a monthly income until the rightful heir is decided. This payment is for him to act like a proper gentleman. Max doubts he will become duke, but he already has plans.
Samuel Tate, the owner of a pottery works, agrees to let Max, a possible future duke, help develop marketing for the company, but Max must marry Samuel's oldest daughter as he wants to keep the company in the family. None of them sense the younger daughter Bianca's dismay at the idea. On the day of the wedding, she helps her older sister elope with the man she loves. Her father then demands Bianca marry Mr. St. James.
Max is skillful at playing deceptive games of manipulation. He has a talent for working through details to get what he wants, but will he be able to convince Bianca and solve the family dilemma facing him? Although he comes to love his wife, he doesn't tell her the reasons behind his past roguish behaviors. Bianca has talents in developing ceramic products and their glazes. She won't give up her portion of the company even to a husband. She is always forthright and argumentative with her father and now with Max. Can Max change her mind of how she perceives him? Can these two reach any type of accord? ABOUT A ROGUE is an entertaining story with an interesting premise and two characters, who are both determined to get their own way.
As a bonus, the book includes a short story about Max St. James' newly hired valet.