Berne’s sparkling fifth Penhallow Dynasty Regency romance (after Engaged to the Earl) pairs an unconventional duke with the newest member of the wealthy Penhallow family. When penniless 20-year-old Jane Kent discovers a letter written to her grandmother, Charity, by Titus Penhallow, she learns that Titus was her grandfather. Jane travels to Surmont Hall to present the letter to Mrs. Penhallow, her great-grandmother, who enthusiastically welcomes her into the family. Because Jane’s poor upbringing afforded her little education, Mrs. Penhallow solicits the local vicar to tutor Jane alongside Wakefield Farr, the eight-year-old Marquis of Rutherford, son of the Penhallow’s neighbor, Anthony, Duke of Radcliffe. Anthony, a widower who cares little for living up to ducal expectations, is enchanted by Jane’s beauty and refreshing candor, though he remains resolute never to marry again. But when Mrs. Penhallow takes Jane to London to search for a husband, Anthony misses her more than he anticipated and must decide whether to confess his feelings to Jane or risk losing her to another man. Jane’s curious combination of naivete and street smarts makes her an endearing heroine, and the romance between Jane and Anthony is enhanced by witty banter and Wakefield’s mischievous antics. Series fans will be thrilled. Agent: Cheryl Pientka, Jill Grinberg Literary. (Feb.)
Booklist (starred review)
A charming, fairy tale-like sensibility powering the latest blissfully romantic addition to Berne’s Penhallow series, following Engaged to the Earl (2020)... This is a transporting, transcendent triumph.
Romance Reviews Today
"A delightfully fun read. The characters are amazing... The writing is brilliant, and readers will thoroughly enjoy The Worst Duke in the World."
Attention, Bridgerton fans: if you're ready to delve deeper into the world of historical romances, The Worst Duke in the World by Lisa Berne is a fun place to start.
"As light as a meringue and as sweet as honey, this romance is deliciously satisfying down to the last drop."
One of the most exciting new historical writers in a long time.
Booklist (starred review) on Engaged to the Earl
"The author’s effortlessly elegant writing and impeccably rendered Regency setting are perfectly paired with a full cadre of exquisitely realized characters and a delightfully done friends-to-lovers love story that is fueled by equal measures of sweet charm, sharp wit, and heart-melting sexual chemistry."
Historical Novel Society
Jane Austen would approve. Strongly recommended."
When a Regency duke would rather feed blancmange to his prize pig than pay court to prospective brides, it’s fortunate that the girl next door also likes pigs.
Anthony Farr, Duke of Radcliffe survived an unhappy first marriage and is deathly afraid of marrying again. He would rather spend his days pottering about on his farm and skipping stones on the lake with his 8-year-old son, Wakefield. But when a poor relation of the Penhallow family arrives in the neighborhood, she quickly becomes friends with both Anthony and Wakefield. Where Anthony is simple and even childlike, Jane Kent is just uneducated and still suffering from the traumas of spending her early life in poverty. In their first encounter, afternoon tea in the company of Jane’s relatives turns into a fierce competition. Jane and Anthony are both determined to devour more food than the other—all while maintaining a polite facade. It’s the first of many deftly funny scenes in the novel, although some of the jokes become a little repetitive, such as Wakefield’s frequent mispronunciations of long words. The dialogue, too, is both funny and a little tiresome, with long conversations that don’t significantly advance the plot. But the book has other strengths that set it apart from typical Regency romances. It’s body-positive. There are several scenes where Jane, Anthony, and Wakefield demolish decadent food. There’s also a little light sadomasochism, which feels surprising since the main characters are otherwise so childlike. And it's a nice portrait of what courtship is like for a dedicated single parent. The child and his needs are central to the love story.
A bumpkin duke and a young woman belatedly acquiring a gentlewoman’s education make for an entertaining love story.