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The Scottish Duke (The Dukes) by Karen…
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The Scottish Duke (The Dukes)

by Karen Ranney

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Good book with an unusual plotline. Lorna is the daughter of a gentleman who has fallen on hard times since her father's death. She takes a position of a maid at Blackhall Castle where she becomes intrigued by the Duke. She takes advantage of a costumed ball to dress up and meet him, and maybe have a chance to dance with him. Alex is in a rotten mood the night of the ball. He has just suffered a professional disappointment and is well on the way to drowning his sorrows when he spots Lorna. There's something about her that immediately draws him to her.

Neither one expects the desire that hits them, and they are helpless to resist the passion that overtakes them. But Alex has been burned by passion before and his ability to trust women severely damaged. He accuses Lorna of using her innocence to trap him. She flees, but not before telling him exactly what she thinks of him. Alex is unable to forget her, and spends a fair amount of time looking for her, never noticing that she lives under his roof. However, their encounter has consequences, and when Lorna discovers she's pregnant, she leaves Blackhall, determined to raise her child on her own.

Lorna is very stubborn and independent. Her life after leaving Blackhall is not easy, especially as she is not married. I loved her friend and fellow maid, Nan, who worries about Lorna's safety. I loved how she took matters into her own hands and ratted out Lorna to Alex's mother. The scene between Alex and his mom was hilarious, as she takes him to task. He doesn't want to believe what he's told but eventually, goes to see Lorna. It doesn't go well for him, and I loved how Lorna stood up to him, his attitude, and his accusations. But she is also guilty of a bit too much pride and doesn't want to admit she needs help. That becomes especially obvious when she runs afoul of the more puritanical townspeople. Alex arrives just in time to save her from danger.

I loved the development of their relationship. Alex's fascination with her has not abated, and it has him rather freaked out. He moves her into a cottage on the estate grounds to take care of her. He can't stay away from her and finds himself spending more and more time with her. He's intrigued by the way her mind works, her independence, and the talent he sees in her artwork. He discovers that he likes spending time with her and wants to share so much of his life and thoughts with her. What disturbs him the most is that the emotions he had walled off since his late wife's betrayal and death are starting to resurface. Lorna also finds that her feelings for him are changing. Before she had been infatuated, but what she feels now is deeper and stronger. When Alex's mother convinces them both that they should marry for the sake of the child, they agree.

I got a bit frustrated with Alex here because as soon as the wedding was over (just in the nick of time), he runs away. He can't handle the torrent of emotions that he's experiencing and leaves to bury himself in his work. This leaves Lorna to deal with her new circumstances without his support. I loved that she had his mom and her maid thoroughly on her side. She spends the next several weeks settling in, and I loved the changing and maturing that she experienced. I completely enjoyed that Alex was miserable. He redeemed himself a little with his reaction to what his gossipy valet told him. The surprise arrival of his uncle was an additional motivator.

There are great changes once he arrives back at Blackhall. I loved seeing Alex become enchanted by his son. There are several really sweet moments between the two of them as Alex's emotions continue to reassert themselves. He and Lorna grow closer as he begins to accept the way she makes him feel, though he still refuses to put it into words. I also liked that Lorna lets him know that disappearing again isn't an option.

But there is someone at Blackhall who isn't happy about Lorna's place there. Someone destroys her supply of herbs and so on, and later tries to poison her. Alex is determined to discover who it is. There are several possibilities. Could it be Thomas, angry that he is no longer Alex's heir? Maybe Matthew, Alex's valet, who has made no secret of his disdain for the maid turned duchess? Or could it be Mary, sister of Alex's late wife, who was hoping to snag Alex for her own? Things get very intense when the baby disappears, and they must find him before it's too late. The final confrontation was the catalyst that opened Alex's eyes at last.

The secondary characters were all very well done. Thomas was an interesting character that kept me guessing as to his real intentions. I love to see him get a story of his own. I loved Alex's mom, Louise. She was a such a warm-hearted woman, and her immediate acceptance of Lorna was great. I also liked the way that she had of straightening Alex out. Mary was a straight up bitch of the first order. She was selfish, mean-spirited, and ultimately quite vicious. Definitely a character I loved to hate. Lorna's friend and fellow maid Nan was wonderful. She was a good balance to Lorna at the beginning, trying to keep Lorna out of trouble. She also proved herself to be a true friend when she overrode Lorna's wishes and informed the duchess of Lorna's pregnancy. ( )
  scoutmomskf | Aug 18, 2017 |
Some of my best historical romance has to do with Scotland, young misses, and the death of a father pushing her into something. Lorna was strong, intelligent and knew what she wanted and let nothing get in the way. She also knew how to care for herself. She took a chance and it turned in to a dream, but not all dreams are meant to be lived.

Lorna had to resort to un-lady like measures when her father dies and leaves her. She does what had to be done to make a living. The Duke of Kinross was not exactly a part of her plans when dashing out in life, but he was certainly a goal worthy of having. Even if it was for just one night. He was dashing, arrogant, sexy, and a bit out of sorts for not attaining what he thought was his. With his mind afog and his attitude not caring, he sees a vision in Maria Antoinette. That was where the farce began and not end.

Some may see Lorna’s action as foolish or even petty. I found her strong, fierce, independent. She knew her own mind and desires. She was willing to accept what comes. I applauded her for it.

There was plenty of time to get to know the characters. The pace was moderate and not overwhelming. You knew what was going on and could keep up with it as it went. I found multiple character to latch on to and enjoy. Wondering if they would be in the next book or even be the feature in another series.

I enjoyed this one very much and the kick off to a new series was entertaining. ( )
  thebookjunkiereads | Dec 21, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062466879, Mass Market Paperback)

New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney returns with the first novel in a new series about dashing, charismatic dukes—and the women who tame them…

Though raised as a gentleman’s daughter, Lorna Gordon is obliged to take a position as an upstairs maid at Blackhall Castle when her father dies. Alex Russell, the Duke of Kinross, is the most tempting man she’s ever seen—and completely unattainable—until, at a fancy dress ball, Lorna disguises herself as Marie Antoinette and pursues an illicit tryst…with scandalous consequences.

Months after his mysterious seductress disappears, Alex encounters her again. Far from the schemer the distrustful duke assumed her to be, Lorna is fiercely independent and resourceful. She’s the one woman capable of piercing his defenses. But when danger threatens Lorna, Alex must prove himself not just the lover of her fantasies, but the man who will fight to protect her.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:24:15 -0500)

"Though raised as a gentleman's daughter, Lorna Gordon is obliged to take a position as an upstairs maid at Blackhall Castle when her father dies. Alex Russell, the Duke of Kinross, is the most tempting man she's ever seen-- and completely unattainable-- until, at a fancy dress ball, Lorna disguises herself as Marie Antoinette and pursues an illicit tryst... with scandalous consequences. Months after his mysterious seductress disappears, Alex encounters her again. Far from the schemer the distrustful duke assumed her to be, Lorna is fiercly independent and resoureful. She's the one woman capable of piercing his defenses. But when danger threatens Lorna, Alex must prove himself not just the lover of her fantasies, but the man who will fight to protect her." --… (more)

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