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A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied, in The Good, The Bad, and The Duke by Janna MacGregor.
Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?
Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?
About the Author
Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She is the author of The Bad Luck Bride. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers.
Read an Excerpt
Sixteen years later
The London residence of the Duke of Langham
Paul relaxed in the leather chair that sat directly in front of the Duke of Langham's mahogany desk. In so many ways, the piece resembled the duke — massive, dark, but with an inherent warmth that made a person want to settle in for a long afternoon of pleasure mixed with work.
That was the allure of Langham. As one of the most respected — not to mention powerful — members in the House of Lords, his acceptance of Paul by being the first to stand at the end of Paul's introductory address to the noble institution had made Paul's welcome by its members easier. Everyone had followed the duke's example and stood. As the sound of clapping and cheers echoed through the chambers, Paul finally had allowed himself to relax.
His peers accepted him.
However, the duke's nephew-in-law, Paul's oldest but estranged friend, Alexander, the Marquis of Pembrooke, had been one of the last to stand when Paul received a standing ovation for his speech.
The marquess's act of disdain that day still stung but wasn't much of a surprise. Their former friendship had been destroyed by Paul's selfish acts. But Pembrooke's brief note offering condolences on the death of Paul's brother three months ago meant the world to him. Paul kept it on his desk as a reminder of all the things he'd lost in his life, but it also represented hope. If Pembrooke thought enough to pen a note, then perhaps Paul could redeem himself in his former friend's eyes.
"I'm not the only one who has noticed the amount of work you're doing to familiarize yourself with the upcoming parliamentary session next year," Langham offered. "It shows your commitment. Lord Kenton may offer you a position on one of his committees. If you want it, I'll see that it happens."
"I'd appreciate your help. I can never repay you for your kindness." Paul glanced at his little finger where the large ruby in his signet ring flashed like fire. Every Duke of Southart had worn it since William III had bestowed the stone as a thank-you for the first duke's valiant service. For Paul, the ring was not a symbol of his father, but a symbol of Paul's family. It should have been Robbie's, but Paul wore it in Robbie's place. For that reason alone, it meant something to him. "I couldn't have made such strides without your thoughts and guidance."
The duke waved his hand through the air as if it were nothing. The fact that he'd allowed Paul entrance into Langham Hall after Paul had jilted the duke's niece years ago on the night of their engagement ball spoke of the duke's forgiving nature.
He swallowed, hoping to relieve his unease at such painful memories. He'd been desperate that night. Gambling recklessly trying to win back all the money he'd lost. Pembrooke had come to rescue him, but in return for buying Paul's debts, Pembrooke demanded that Paul release Lady Claire Cavensham, Langham's niece, from the betrothal. Based upon Paul's behavior at the gambling hells, Pembrooke thought he wasn't good enough for the duke's niece. Which in hindsight was true — much to Paul's own disgrace. He did as asked, not thinking of the ramifications, by breaking with her at their engagement ball, and Pembrooke had quickly married Claire within the week to save her from the ton's vicious rumors. Now Lady Claire was the Marchioness of Pembrooke.
"Langham" — he cleared his throat hoping that brief moment would summon forth the right words — "I truly am sorry for my previous behavior when I was engaged to your niece."
The duke slowly leaned forward and focused his hawk-like gaze on Paul. Moments slipped by, causing their earlier ease with each other to grow tense. Finally, the duke finished his examination and leaned back in his chair. "There's no need to revisit the past. What you need to concentrate on is your current and future actions. They'll define your worth as the new Duke of Southart."
Paul nodded. "That's one of the things I want to discuss. I'm starting a new charity, a hospital that specializes in the treatment of rheumatic fever, to honor my late brother, Robbie. It'll be a place for patients who have no other alternatives for care, and hopefully, it'll provide research opportunities for the top medical professionals in that area of study."
A smile tugged at the duke's mouth, and his blue eyes flashed with delight. "That's a noble cause, and one you should be passionate about."
"I am," Paul answered truthfully. He'd been thinking of starting this endeavor for years, ever since Robbie had first become ill.
"How can I help?" the duke asked.
"I've instructed my solicitors to find a suitable property. And I hoped you'd come to a benefit soiree I plan to host in several months —" Before he could continue, Pembrooke and Nicholas, the Earl of Somerton, entered the room. While Pembrooke had married the duke's niece, Somerton had married the duke's daughter, Lady Emma Cavensham, now the Countess of Somerton.
"Come in, gentlemen," the duke called out in greeting. "Southart and I were discussing his plans for a new hospital in honor of his late brother. Grand idea, don't you think?"
Paul stood and nodded in greeting.
Somerton answered Paul's nod with a brief one of his own, but Pembrooke visibly stiffened his shoulders and stared at him as if he were an intruder.
"It's an admirable goal," Pembrooke finally said. "However, completing such a project takes dedication, hard work, and gravitas. Traits you always seemed to lack. Unless you've acquired them in recent years." One arrogant eyebrow arched slowly. Silence descended at the curt denouncement.
Somerton shook his head. "Pembrooke, enough."
"Things haven't changed, I see." The duke exhaled and gently drummed the fingers of one hand on the desktop. "Perhaps you'd both like to join us, and we could discuss this in more detail."
Arm in arm with smiles on their faces, Somerton's wife, Emma, and Lady Daphne entered. Both women were attractive, but Paul's gaze fixated on Daphne. She'd turned into a real diamond of the first water. She was breathtaking.
As soon as Daphne saw Paul, her eyes widened. "Paul ... I mean, Your Grace. How wonderful to see you."
The excitement in her voice rang through the room. All he could do was grin. "Lady Somerton," he answered. "Lady Daphne, the pleasure is all mine."
Emma nodded in return, but Daphne's smile grew bigger. The brilliance in her unusual gray eyes reminded him of simpler times when they were all younger — and all true friends. They'd certainly been more at ease with one another's company.
She broke away from her friend, then approached Paul. Her happy greeting caused the tightness in his chest to ease.
He took her gloved hand in his. Though her hand was covered, he could detect the inherent softness of her skin. Unable to resist, he gently squeezed, signaling his pleasure at her welcome. "Congratulations. I understand your mother married Somerton's father. I wish both of them happiness."
"Thank you. I'll give Mother and Renton your regards." Still holding his hand, she executed a perfect curtsy. "We're all so happy for their union. An added benefit is that Alex and I have a new stepbrother, Somerton."
"And he has a new stepbrother and stepsister. I'm envious," Paul said. "But very happy for all of you."
"My condolences to you on the recent passing of your brother and father." She squeezed his hand in return.
"Thank you." He was desperate for the comfort she offered and made the mistake of holding her hand a little too long.
"Daphne," commanded Pembrooke.
She dropped his hand as if burned, then turned to her brother. "Alex, I didn't see you." She hesitated for a moment.
But it was long enough for Paul to see the division that lay between him and Pembrooke extended to Daphne as well. Without another word, she went to stand beside her brother. The awkwardness in the room grew until it became unbearable for Paul. He quickly took his leave from the duke and Lord and Lady Somerton, then forced himself to face Pembrooke.
Daphne's brother had his head bent to hers in a private conversation.
"Why not welcome him?" she murmured. "The duke has."
"He may be the Duke of Southart now, but he hasn't changed. He promises nothing but disappointment. Remember what he did to Claire." Alex bit out the words. "Stay away from him."
Daphne glanced his way while her brother engaged in a conversation with Langham.
A flush of heat threatened to overtake Paul.
She bit her lip, then dropped her gaze.
They both were aware Paul had heard every word.
Three months later — exactly three days before Christmastide The London residence of the Duke of Southart
Paul resisted the urge to straighten the cuffs of his shirt, a habit he acquired years ago when confronting his father in this very room. He stared into the glass of brandy. This particular vintage had been his father's favorite until he and his older brother, Robert, had replaced three bottles with rust-colored water. His father hadn't punished Robbie, but Paul couldn't sit down for a week without a pillow underneath.
"Would I what?" Paul glanced from the glass into the bottomless green eyes of Devan Farris. He was in London for Christmastide ready to receive his new assignment in the church. What made Devan unique was his steadfastness. He was the only man who hadn't given up on Paul, and he was Paul's last true friend in the world. It made little difference that Devan happened to be the most unusual vicar who had ever resided in Easton, a tiny village located five miles north of Paul's duchy.
It was still difficult to refer to Southart as such. Six months ago, his father — with probable infinite pleasure — had shocked everyone with his death just two days after Robbie's passing from rheumatic fever, a lasting souvenir from his severe bout of scarlet fever. Robbie's death had been expected, as his health had declined rapidly over the last three years, but their father's sudden passing surprised everyone. The doctor had concluded the duke's heart had suddenly stopped. Paul had a better diagnosis; his father had died of a broken heart. The contrary act had made Paul the new Duke of Southart, even though he still considered himself the second son, the spare heir — just like his father had.
Perhaps he always would. His gaze skimmed his azure merino wool dress coat with diamond buttons and black silk pantaloons. He dressed like a duke, but beneath the wrappings of his position in society and wealth, he was still the same man — one who had lived a life full of mistakes and regrets. However, he'd change all that with the creation of his hospital.
"Would you swive the new Duchess of Renton? Though she's old enough to be our mother, she's still grand looking." Devan rose from the settee and poured another glass of brandy. "How many times do I have to go through the entire Debrett's listing of married women in the ton? You used to be marvelous fun at this game. Now a day-old dumpling has more appeal. By the way, this swallows like a whore's —"
"For the love of God, Farris. You're a man of the church." Paul shook his head and chuckled. His old friend could always make him smile with his outrageous comments and game of "Would You Swive?"
"Need I remind you that I'm considered one of the most devout of my profession?" Devan's arrogance transformed into an expression of a dutiful clergyman ready to hear confessions. "Oh, I can give my flock a pious look. I can recite a couple of pieces of verse as I bow my head and close my eyes. As I whisper a trite prayer, they all think I'm the holiest thing that ever came into this world." He threw back his head and laughed. "I love my work."
The joy in Farris's face was contagious, and Paul grinned in return. For the moment, this was exactly what he'd needed to steal away his grief from losing his family — meaningless fun with a friend.
"Of course, if they only knew that I can swill whisky along with the best of men. Besides, I'm proud of the fact that I've raised my fair amount of hell and have never been caught," Devan boasted.
"I taught you everything you know," Paul quipped.
"No, I taught you ... except the women part. How in the devil you could seduce the Countess of Velton is beyond me." Devan squinted and shuddered.
His reaction reminded Paul of sour lemons.
"In defense of the old dame, it was out of respect." Paul had only bedded her once, but it was a fond memory. Twenty years older and with the patience of Job, she'd taught him all sorts of sensual delights. At the age of seventeen, he had known nothing about women. Lady Velton had sought his attention at a house party, then had kindly taught him every seduction technique she'd acquired in her thirty-plus years upon the earth. With all that bountiful knowledge, he could take a woman on a sensual journey in bed that she'd never forget. In return, he found his own satisfaction knowing that when he took a woman to bed she was treated like a queen. He lifted his glass in Lady Velton's honor for a weekend that had proved well worth his time, and he hoped that she considered him worth her time.
"You're a simpleton when it comes to women," Devan countered.
"Careful, my friend." Paul leaned back and regarded him with a half-lidded gaze. "I'm not a simpleton, but I am a simple man, one with simple tastes and simple goals."
Devan grunted in response.
"I adore beautiful women, vintage champagne, fine clothes, and the worst gambling hells I can find." Paul set the brandy aside and rose from the richly appointed mahogany desk. The Moroccan leather chair moaned, protesting like a cast-aside lover. He circled the massive piece of wood and made his way to the side table, where he poured a glass of champagne. He lifted the glass in the air, but Devan shook his head.
"I'm fine with this," the vicar answered. "By the way, how goes the search for a property for the new hospital?"
"My solicitors found a perfect location. I trust their judgment and directed them to place a suitable bid on the property."
"Sight unseen?" Devon raised a brow.
"Yes, I didn't want to lose it," Paul said. "Apparently, someone else is interested in it."
Both raised their glasses to each other.
"To the hospital," Paul toasted.
"To the hospital." Devan nodded. "And friends old and new."
Paul exhaled loudly. "Why did you choose a profession in the church? With your new assignment forthcoming, you'll likely settle in a small town with nothing to offer but a constant view of cows chewing their cuds."
Devan tilted his head as he considered Paul's question. "Well, as the fourth son of an earl, I didn't have many options in life. I could have gone into the military, but how bourgeois. There's only so much entertainment to be had in the daily cleaning of weapons." He leaned forward. "What other choice did I have? Let me tell you a secret few know. As a man of the church, I'm revered. I always have a tea or dinner invitation readily offered from the various families of my parish." He shrugged his shoulders. "I can flirt with the prettiest women in town, and no one bats an eye."
"Give it up. Come live at Southart. The duchy's rectory is a lovely place, and you could settle into a life that I guarantee will be fulfilling. You'll have my wretched soul to watch over. That should keep you busy until the end of your days."
When Devan examined him with a razor-sharp gaze, prickles of unease raised the hair on the back of Paul's neck. An image of Devan pulling away the layers of sins and misdeeds while trying to find something redeeming inside increased Paul's discomfort. Such a task as finding anything worthwhile in his rotten soul would take the vicar years or, most likely, eons.
"That came out of the clear blue. Feeling nostalgic this time of year, my friend?" Devan tilted his head.
"Hardly. I received another note and vowel from my father addressed to 'The Great Disappointment, my baseborn son.' The solicitor sent it over this morning."
"Christ," Devan said. "Your father's cruelty knows no bounds. What's the amount of the vowel?"
"I owe the Reynolds fifteen pounds. This makes the third one in three weeks. He's haunting me from the grave." He laughed, but the sound held no humor. "The vowels are all such little amounts. Why did he save them? I could have paid these amounts years ago."
Devan shrugged his shoulders, but his gaze never left Paul's.
"I'll tell you why. He's humiliating me." Paul allowed his carefully constructed image of a bored and pampered aristocrat to melt away. He commanded a deep breath to dampen the bite of pain that appeared at the most inopportune times. On most occasions, he managed to tame the misery residing close to his every thought and deed. This moment was a watershed. His grief over his father's sudden death was a constant mystery. He and his brother had been close for siblings, but his father had treated him as if he were something the cat had dragged into the house in the blackest part of night. When Robbie had discovered Paul's beating by their father's hand over the brandy prank, Robbie had entered their father's study and not emerged for an hour.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Good, The Bad, And The Duke"
Copyright © 2018 JLWR, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I know it’s early to be reading Christmas-related books, but really – is it ever too early to read Christmas stories? ❤️ Lady Daphne Hallworth quickly became one of my all-time favourite characters. She tried her best to be “the perfect daughter/sister/etc” and she shoved all her feelings in a diary. It actually sounds like something I would do, with the exception that I’ve tried to write a diary several times, but I always end up forgetting to write in it. I personally like to lay at night thinking about what I would write, and sometimes even say it out loud, in a whispered voice, just to put those feelings out there. So I can imagine what Daphne felt when her diary was stolen – as a result of a good action, which is even worse! But, rest assure dear reader, she is not alone. In comes Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart, former friend of Daphne’s brother, and her former (and current!) crush. Paul acted badly in the past and that caused him to alienate his friends, but Daphne never truly believed he was a horrible person, instead she believed he was someone who had made mistakes, but who was truly a good person (which, of course, it’s true). Daphne is left alone at Christmas and Paul is the one that is going to make her company and help her retrieve her diary. Paul and his Moonbeam. I loved their relationship, Paul was so sweet with Daphne, and all he wanted was to help her. Even the impediments that might have gotten in the way, it was all resolved and I loved how strong and determined Daphne was, and how Paul tried to be his best version, for himself, for Daphne and for those that now depended on him. That’s one of my favourite things about the book, Paul’s awakening to become someone… not different per se, but someone with new objectives and a different view of life and of what really matters. And that’s also what brings Daphne’s family and friends back to being friends with Paul. They see how he’s improved, and that he is trying, he’s doing his best to become better, and he deserves the vote of confidence. After reading this book, I decided never to have a diary with me in public and, if I ever do write in a journal, to have it locked at all times, because I don’t know if I could handle the stress of losing or having it robbed, with all my private thoughts. Daphne’s fight and endurance to act the right way not just for her, but for her family and those that might be affected by what she had written, was inspiring. The Christmas ambience helped the story’s redemption arc, and it was lovely to have the beautiful descriptions of winter and Christmas decorations. I do love a good Christmas romance.
What would you do if your family left for Christmas without you? What would you do if you were a duke wanting to repair your worthless reputation? What would you do when your dream is met with obstacles; especially in the form of the handsome as sin ex-best friend of your brother? What would you do if your road to redemption is constantly blocked by your ex-best friend’s beautiful sister? What would you do if your private diary (one that contains secrets that if exposed would devastate those you love) is stolen? What would you do if your beautiful nemesis is constantly tempting danger in her search for a missing diary? Lady Daphne Hallworth and Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart will answer all those questions while Janna MacGregor takes them on a journey of towards a happily ever after.
3.5 stars. I enjoyed this book more than the third, however, both books dragged for me in the last half. Paul has done some things he isn’t proud of. He’s severely damaged his relationship with his best friend, alienated those close to him, and has put himself in a position to not be welcomed when perusing Daphne, the little sister of his former best friend. His road to redemption is not easy but was easily the best part of this book. Daphne was left in London after her family took off to the country without realizing she wasn’t with them. She’s going to make the best of it with the staff that’s left and have the best Christmas possible. An unfortunate turn in the park led to her journal, with key secrets and hidden desires, to be stolen, which in turn led her to Paul as she went into the rough parts of London to get her journal back. Things that kept this from a 4 star rating was the long-winded writing, Daphne’s ridiculous decisions and her reckless behavior, “Moombeam” and the journal recovery missions and Paul’s gloomy internal dialogue. I’m still interested in continuing the series and reading about William (loved his appereances in this book).
This is a fun story with romance and some mystery. I would like a little less sex but that is just me. I loved the characters. I loved Daphne and Paul. They both had a lot of things to learn in this story . This is a very enjoyable series. I have really enjoyed each of the Cavensham heiresses. I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press Through Netgalley for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
This is my first Janna MacGregor read and it won't be my last. I really liked Paul and Daphne's relationship. The beginning is very interesting although overall I felt the book was a bit too long. I love how the scenes had a lot of imagery that made me feel like I was there. Both Paul and Daphne have to overcome their pasts and also learn a few secrets. Its great towards the end when they came together to start a charity. The epilogue is really cute. I feel like this is a standalone even though the characters I believe are mentioned in the Bad Luck Bride.
I loved reading Paul and Daphne’s amazing story in The Good, The Bad and The Duke by Janna MacGregor, book 4 in her Cavensham Heiresses series. Poor Lady Daphne Hallworth; almost a spinster living with family, her finances controlled by her brother, yet somehow unseen to others. How they could have forgotten her when they left for the Christmas holiday just reinforced her feeling of being invisible. Daphne decided to make the best of the situation and prove her independence. Unfortunately for Daphne her journal of private thoughts has been stolen by a street urchin. Enter Paul Barstowe, a man we discover is not only a better man than we were led to believe in earlier books, but with a depth of reasons for his previous behavior. Paul, he former best friend of Daphne’s brother, has worked hard to redeem his reputation. With Paul’s help to find the journal Daphne shows signs of recapturing her former self and the adventurous spirit she kept hidden since the death of her sister. Paul and Daphne are amazing together. He sees her, really sees who she is and she has been in love with him since a young girl. Plus their chemistry is off the charts. I loved how Daphne stood up to her family to accept Paul and realize that he is a changed man. This story is a definite celebration of the redemptive power of love. Ms. MacGregor wrote an emotionally rich and moving story filled with sexual chemistry, fun dialogue, and endearing characters that are not to be missed. I highly recommend The Good, The Bad and The Duke to other readers. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
Daphne is left behind at Christmas, and she decides to make the most of it and makes plans for a home for unwed mothers. A street urchin steals her reticule, but the journal inside is worth more than money--it has her deepest secrets inside--and she's ready to do anything to get it back. Paul, a new duke and reformed rake, is haunted by the reminders of the sins of his past from his deceased father reaching from the grave. He has plans for atonement and to honor his brother, but one very beautiful woman stands in his way--his former best friend's sister. As they vie for land and spend time together to find her journal, forbidden passion ignites between them. Paul knows her family will never accept him, and he's prepared to sacrifice his happiness for his "Moonbeam." Secrets are revealed, a surprising alliance is made, all hope may not be lost, but time is of the essence. **received an ARC from Netgalley**
Paul Barstowe did some very bad things in his past. He got into trouble to gain the attention of his neglectful and abusive father. He continued until his repulsive behavior cost him his friends. When his brother died, he promised Robbie that he would reform. He would become a responsible duke and a better man. Lady Daphne Hallworth has loved Paul since she was a child, but due to his behavior toward members of her family, they hate him. She doesn’t, but she is loyal to her family. What happens when circumstances bring the two of them together for Christmas? They have a great adventure, get to know each other, and fall in love. They know how the family feels and that they cannot be together, but they will keep each other company through Christmas. Who knows what will happen after that. This story was interesting and emotional. It kept my attention from start to finish. The search for Daphne’s missing journal was intense, but their visits to the Reynolds were humorous. Daphne and Paul were wonderful characters. They had much in common. Their responses to the grief they felt at the loss of a sibling were different, but resulted in a desire in both of them to help others like Robbie and Alice. Pembroke and Sommerton rejected Paul and his attempts to make peace with them and regain their friendship. The ladies of the family were not so stubborn, and one of the children offered him friendship (and a kitten). His father who had always treated him badly, sent one more devastating surprise from the grave, one from which he might not recover. It will end his chance at acceptance and a life with Daphne, but it gives him a means to retrieve her journal from the nasty piece of work determined to use it to ruin the author. What happens next? It’s not what he or the reader expected. Don’t you love surprises? I enjoyed and recommend The Good, The Bad, and The Duke. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The review and opinions are my own.
Another wonderful story from Janna MacGregor! I loved both Daphne and Paul, especially since Paul had a colorful history from the previous stories (you do not need to read the earlier books to enjoy this one, but you should as this is a great series.). I had tears on and off, and loved the strength that Daphne showed to get what she wanted as she moves on from her past grief. I highly recommend this story. I received an ARC through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.
Lady Daphne has held a tender for Paul since she was a child and now as an adult, the feelings are still there and have increased over time. Daphne had her reticule stolen and it contained her journal where she wrote some of her most personal thoughts. Trying to find the kid who stole it, she encounters Paul and he agrees to help her. As time goes by they form an attachment and he asks her to marry him and she says yes. Paul learns some devastating news and breaks with Daphne. There is a HEA but there is a lot that has to happen before this becomes a reality. The book is well written and I would highly recommend it as a great read.
Who loves a reformed bad boy that doesn’t feel like he is good enough? *waves hands like a maniac* I do, I do!! I don’t generally pick up a lot of romance novels anymore and books like this make me wonder why. I tore through this book like it owed me money. Daphne is one of my favorite kinds of female leads. She is strong willed, independent and goes for what she wants, to hell with the consequences and Paul is…I just love Paul. With family drama, secrets to be kept and just enough sexy-time to make it interesting, this quick read was my perfect introduction to this author. I look forward to reading more from here and will be going back to read the earlier books in this series! The Good, The Bad & The Duke is a feel-good Regency era romance that is the perfect read for a cozy winter night. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book to read and provide my own opinion.
I'm giving The Good, The Bad And The Duke a rare (for me) 5 stars. Janna MacGregor has story with a well thought out plot, well worded, easy to follow, and characters that jump off the page. I've thought about this review for a couple of days. How to intrigue you without giving too much away. I'll try. If you're not having indecent thoughts about the character of Paul, I'll eat my new, stylish hat. Lets just get this over with. Paul, Paul, where for art thou Paul? You are the romantic moon in my night sky. I'm ok now, the drooling has stopped. On to the review. Our heroine is Lady Daphne Hallworth, sister to Alex, Duke of Pembrook. Alex had his own story in The Cavensham Heiresses series. Daphne is described as having ebony hair and sparkling gray eyes. Sounds like a lovely combo, no wonder Paul is attracted. She's also brave and self-sufficient. I like that in a heroine. Our hero, and my crush, is Paul Barstowe, second son of the Duke of Southart. He's described as being the handsomest man in England. I guess so, if you like blond hair and blue eyes (yes please). Through tragic circumstances he becomes the Duke. We open when Lady Daphne is 9 years old and trying to save a baby bird. Paul helps her and wins her gratitude and admiration. Before he leaves he gives her a stone he's found, it's heart shaped (this is important to remember). Cut to 16 years later. Lady Daphne has a Home Alone situation. A street urchin steels her reticule with her journal in it. Big trouble, she's written lots of juicy stuff in it. She has to get it back and Paul enters the picture. He, reluctantly, helps her get into a gambling hell, among other places, in search of her journal. A knight in slightly tarnished armour. Ms. MacGregor gave me a great archaic word, confabulation, meaning a chat. Love it. Daphne has to fess up that she's alone and Paul feels obligated to look after her. This is convenient since he has taken to calling her Moonbeam and having poetic thoughts. He's a goner. What he doesn't realize is Daphne has decided to marry him. Reformed rakes make the best husbands, right? Ms. MacGregor gives us admiration, bad boy antics, regret, attraction, a longing to belong, lust, love, misunderstandings and do-gooding. There's a plethora of emotions running through this story. As this is a romance book there is a happy ending. We'd be disappointed if there wasn't. Receiving a free book ARC is a true privilege and one I always enjoy. Being able to share my opinion is a pleasure. Both are free and without obligation. Happy reading.
Breathtakingly Romantic! I was captivated by this story, from beginning to the end. I have enjoyed this series very much but this was my favorite so far. This was so well written and the characters are just so well developed that all the idiosyncrasies of the characters helped tell their story so much more in depth. I totally loved the characters of Lady Daphne Hallworth and Lord Paul Barstowe and this friends to lovers romance. The way in which Lady Daphne was not afraid to go after what she wanted, if it was a kiss or her journal, or building a home for unwed mothers, made her such a great heroine. I also felt so much for Lord Paul with all his troubles and past problems with his family and friends. He suffered so much pain and just wanted to be loved. But seeing these two come together was magical and breathtakingly beautiful. The endearments and the heartwarming manner with which they see each other has such inherent warmth as well as sizzling passion. Getting to see the other couples in the previous books was an added bonus. Don’t pass this book by. Janna MacGregor has such a way with words it will cast a spell on you and take you on a beautiful journey. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Lady Daphne Hallworthy was preparing to accompany her family to their country home for the Christmas holiday. Lady Margaret and Lord Truesdale, the four-year-old twin children of Daphne's brother Alex, the Marquess of Pembroke and Lady Claire, erupt into a sibling battle which leaves little Lady Margaret crying on the floor. Aunt Daphne rushes to pick her up and console her which results in a need to change her traveling dress. Thinking she has plenty of time after changing Daphne spends some time writing in her journal before heading back downstairs. Upon returning to the entryway she finds no one there. Home alone for Christmas! Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart is new to his title. His older brother had recently passed away followed soon thereafter by his father. Paul hadn't expected to be Duke. He had a very contentious relationship with his father and did all he could to annoy him; drinking, gambling and behaving as a veritable rake. Now he has promised his dying brother to reform himself. He knows there is much to be accomplished in that direction including attempting to gain the forgiveness and restored friendship of his old friend the Marquess of Pembroke. That might be difficult after meeting up with his sister Lady Daphne and putting her into a compromising position - at her insistence. The Good, The Bad and The Duke by Janna MacGregor is the fourth book in her The Cavensham Heiresses series. Janna MacGregor has written a well-developed plot and storyline that kept me turning pages. I loved reading the surprises in this story. It was great to finally get to read Paul's story and be reunited with beloved characters from previous books in the series. This is a great story! I highly recommend it!
Paul Barstowe is now the Duke of Southart. His brother, Robbie, whom he adored, had died as a result of rheumatic fever. His father loved Robbie but not Paul. To retaliate against his father, Paul spent a number of years gambling and acting like a true rake. Now, he has a reputation to repair. Paul wants to build a hospital that will treat patients with rheumatic fever and eventually found more hospitals to treat patients with other devastating illnesses. Lady Daphne is the sister of Alexander (Alex), the Marquis of Pembrooke. Paul and Alex had been good friends when they were younger but an incident that occurred has marred that friendship. Paul knew young Daphne as a child and admired her stubborn ways. Daphne lost her sister, Alice, to suicide when the young woman found herself pregnant and unwed. Now, Daphne is 25, and a wealthy heiress. She wants to found a home for pregnant and unwed mothers. When Daphne’s brother and sister-in-law head to their home in the country for Christmas and her mother and stepfather head to their own home as well, a mix-up occurs which finds Daphne left alone in the London home. Each of the groups thought Daphne was with the other. Sadly, having been under her brother’s thumb for so many years, she tends to be ignored. Rather than hire a carriage to join them, she decides to simply stay in the London house with the under-Butler and his mother to care for her. A walk in the park ends up with her reticule and journal being stolen by an urchin. Giving chase, she follows him to a gaming hell but can’t get the journal. When Paul sees her there, he rescues her and promises to help her get her journal. This allows them to spend some alone time together. However, it will not do for her to be recognized with him in a gaming hell of all places. Joining forces, they plot to get her journal back before family secrets can be revealed. There are a lot of characters thrown at the reader early on which can make it difficult to grasp who is who, which is pet peeve of mine when reading a book. I found Sophie to be immature and naive. Paul is impetuous and too ready to fall on his sword. (“…I’m not worthy…”) In fairness, there is some clever dialogue with the children. The best part is Rufina, the kitten. I’m always a sucker for a kitten in a story. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The household is in turmoil, as everyone is ready to depart for the Christmas holidays, but Lady Daphne Hallworth has been so good for so long at being invisible, that they forget her in London; she is home alone with the under-butler Tait McBride. Oh well, in the meantime, she’ll see to the final preparations for the home for unwed mothers she plans to open. So, she goes for a walk alone, and her reticule is stolen by a street urchin while she is sitting in a park by herself. She doesn’t care about her bag or the money, but it’s imperious that she retrieve her journal, which holds her secrets. If someone finds it, she’s ruined, her whole family is ruined. While running after the little thief, she comes face to face with Paul Barstowe, now the Duke of Southart, who used to be her older brother’s best friend. Paul has made almost an enemy of almost everyone, but he is struck dumb at how alluring Daphne is, and the danger she faces if she is seen in front of a gambling hell. He convinces her to take her home, and after a chat, he agrees to help her find her diary if she can help him mend his friendship with her brother Alexander. THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE DUKE was a very difficult book for me. Try as I might, I couldn’t forget about all the rules of propriety that applied to a young woman of a good family during the Regency era, some of which seemed to matter only when it served storylines purposes. When she was left home alone, Daphne decided that she was going to live her life the way she wanted, which even for a twenty five year-old spinster wasn’t even possible in that era without causing a huge scandal. My misgivings started even earlier, with the prologue, when we are introduced to Paul and Daphne sixteen years previously. Daphne was nine and Paul already out of university, and it appears that’s when she fell in love with him. I was filled with unease; we’re talking of a nine year-old girl and a grown man. I understand that he was grateful that someone liked him, but she was nine, for heaven’s sake! While nothing untoward happened at all, it would have been sweet had she been thirteen or fourteen, but nine was squicky. There were also a few inconsistencies with regards to whether he had noticed her or not in between. I was also quite taken aback, and not in a good way, with Paul’s friend Devan Farris, a vicar who gives men of the cloth a very bad name. Yes, I chose to read THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE DUKE because of yet another sumptuous cover by the inimitable Jon Paul Ferrara, because it’s a Christmas story – very little has to do with Christmas – and because of the “Home Alone” theme. Paul is your typical rake who wants to mend his past wayward ways, and overall, he was rather lovely. Daphne seems a good girl, who has for years hidden very naughty thoughts. I couldn’t quite comprehend how she could be so sexually forward, particularly with her family history and her wish to open a home for unwed mothers. As for what an epic twist, it did not hold up because legally it was immaterial, and Paul’s solution would have caused even more harm to more people. THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE DUKE is fast-paced, well-written, and it flows effortlessly. Ms. MacGregor possesses a real talent at making the surroundings and the characters come alive; it’s all very colourful and lively, but it missed the mark for me because I was too distracted by many things. If you are unfamiliar with Regency customs and legal matters or if you can easily overl
Daphne and Paul new each other from childhood. There was a falling out. Paul wants to build a hospital to honor his brother. Daphne wants to build a home for unwed mothers. They both want the same piece of property. Daphne agrees to let Paul have the property if he helps her get back her diary that was stolen. It contains information that cannot get out. Good story. It probably would have been better if I had had read the other books but it can definitely be read by itself.
The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) by Janna MacGregor Another great book by Janna... Thanks to the publisher and #NetGalley for allowing me to preview this book. Lady Daphne(a lady on a mission..home for unwed mothers) Paul Duke of Southart (looking for redemption) Their touching story has so many twists and turns, laughter, heartache, mystery, danger, the revisiting of old friends from the first three books, steamy... and of course a very HEA. I grew to love them both...and can't wait for the next book. Reasons I enjoyed this book: Action-packed Easy-to-read Entertaining Funny Great world building Happily Ever After Page-turner Romantic Steamy Witty Wonderful characters
I really enjoyed this one! Watching Daphne go through a phase of learning about herself and deciding she's going to live life for herself and stop trying to please others. Paul had to be taught that he was worth something. That someone actually believed in him and loved him for himself. Daphne had loved him since she was a child and it took her awhile to realize it and to figure out who was most important in her life. Well worth the read! Thank you NetGally for the advanced copy!
Angst and Redemption 4.5*. I was sucked into this story; the hero belittled and unloved by his father who became a gamester and rakehell, trying to put his life on track and repair damaged relationships and the heroine who suppresses her character after the untimely death of her sister. Drawn together in an attempt to recover a stolen journal, each sees the other for who they truly are and begin to fall in love. Family dynamics, long held secrets and a malicious reporter do not make things plain sailing for the couple. Some of the scenes moved me to tears but in the end we get the HEA that the reader is waiting for. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.