Review: Enter the Duke

Review: Enter the DukeEnter the Duke (Game of Dukes, #2) by Grace Callaway
Series: Game of Dukes #2
Published by Grace Callaway Books on December 6, 2018
Genres: Historical

FINAL DECISION: I loved Rhys as the redeemed rake. A man of mistakes and flaws and hidden pain who comes to see his own worth through the love of a kind and generous woman. Plus, this book has a treasure hunt.

THE STORY: Rhys Cavendish, Duke of Ranelagh and Somerville, known as Ransom, is running from moneylenders. The death of his uncle gives him an opportunity to pay off his creditors, but he requires help to navigate the treasure hunt his uncle set up. Rhys turns to a local fossil hunter to help with his search. But the woman he wants to hire ends up being the woman he knew as Maggie Goode, who he had a passionate one night encounter years ago. Now a respectable widow with a child, Maggie desperately needs money to save her family business, but she wants to keep her distance from her ex-lover, especially because she has a secret about her daughter to keep.

OPINION: I really loved the couple in this one. Rhys, is a favorite because he truly changes in the course of this book. He begins as a man who keeps everyone at a distance because of his own past, his feelings of inadequacy, and his shame. He is man who has made big mistakes in his life and this book is partly about him coming to terms with his mistakes and learning from them. He also begins to see clearly things that are not his mistakes to claim and realize that he can move beyond his past. I really liked that Rhys has made serious mistakes and this book doesn’t wash those away. Rhys has to accept and move beyond those mistakes. As an example, Rhys inherited a dukedom in trouble, but he made it much worse. Often heroes are seen as beyond such mistakes, but not Rhys. He was selfish and stupid, immature and self destructive for much of his adult life. This book is him truly growing up, and I really enjoyed his flaws.

Maggie is such a cheerful and devoted person that I also really liked her character. Her optimism and devoted nature helps heal Rhys. I also liked that Rhys’s protective nature helps Maggie with those who would take advantage of her. But Maggie definitely is resourceful on her own. She is integral to the treasure hunt and her intelligence and cleverness allow the two to pursue the treasure and navigate the people and adventures needed.

The relationship between Maggie and Rhys doesn’t follow what is normal for romance novels. Much of their connection is resolved earlier than I expected, but there are still challenges to their HEA. The treasure hunt and threats to the couple makes this book a combination of a romance and a mystery/adventure. I really liked the combination.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of the prior book in the series, THE DUKE IDENTITY, will remember Ransom as somewhat an antagonist in that story. This book redeems him nicely.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ENTER THE DUKE is the second book in the Game of Dukes series. It can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters from prior books by this author.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: The Duke Identity

Review: The Duke IdentityThe Duke Identity (Game of Dukes, #1) by Grace Callaway
Series: Game of Dukes #1
on April 19, 2018
Genres: Historical

FINAL DECISION: Hot and sexy romance between a scientist turned policeman and the young woman who would rather rule in the underworld than marry a duke. Lots of secrets in this one, but I loved the chemistry between Tessa and Harry.

THE STORY: Harry Kent has been forced to leave his dreams of science and the Royal Academy behind when he was betrayed by a woman. Taking on the family business of being a policeman, Harry is tasked with helping to take down Black, the king of the underworld. When a chance encounter has him meeting, Tessa Todd, who is Black’s granddaughter, Harry takes on the job of her bodyguard in order to spy on the family. What Harry doesn’t expect, however, is the intense attraction between him and Tessa which once again threatens the life he has built for himself.

OPINION: This is an enjoyable tale. Harry and Tessa are adventurous and I liked their interactions and while the story depends a lot upon Harry keeping his identity from Tessa, the hotness between the two keeps any possible annoyance factor low.

Harry is a man trying to rebuild and reshape his life after all he worked for was destroyed. Harry loved and was betrayed and now has to find out what his purpose is. He also doesn’t want to make himself vulnerable to a woman again.  He has honor even as he continues to lie to Tessa because he has conflicting loyalties. The book goes on his journey where he has to decide what is most important to him. I like that Harry is vulnerable and a little nerdy and on the razor’s edge for most of the story.

Tessa is a spunky and independent woman. Her grandfather wants her to marry into the ton, but Tessa wants nothing more than to stand by her grandfather’s side.  Her unconventional upbringing makes her innocent but not ignorant. She can fit anywhere she wants to, but she feels at home with the whores and thieves of St. Giles. She doesn’t fit into any box of what a woman of the period should be. I liked that she is willing to do what she has to in order to make her own dreams a reality.  The interesting mixture of her traits and interests intrigue Harry the scientist.

I really liked how the book mixes the heat that the two generate and the curiosity and sweetness of their intellectual relationship. The plot also was interesting as it combined both the people of the streets and also the ton. The mixture allows the hero and heroine to be their own people rather than having to fit in perfectly into expected roles and social classes. I also really ended up liking the ultimate resolution.

The only negative is that Harry keeps his secrets for far too long. That ends up being the primary obstacle between Tessa and Harry. After a while, I tired of him lying to Tessa and justifying it because it seemed to become clear that his reasons were not as strong as in the beginning.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next one in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Two words: pet ferret.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE DUKE IDENTITY is the first book in the Game of Dukes series. This book is, however, connected with the Heart of Enquiry series through the hero. It is not necessary to read that series, however, to enjoy this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author in order to prepare a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.