“I’m not afraid because I love you and I will always love you. always. Your love stands between me and fear.”
A Duke of her Own
A promise made on his sickbed compels Leopold, the duke of Villiers to find and take in his illegitimate children. In order to not only raise them but also offer them a way to enter society, Villiers has to do what he hasn’t done until then; get married to a lady. And not just any lady. It has to be the daughter of a duke. The pickings are slim so that he finally settles on two choices.
Elenore had sworn to marry none but a duke ever since her ducal sweetheart chose another woman. She accepts Villiers’ proposal but insists on leaving wiggling room for both of them to get out of the arrangement. They decide that a visit of another suitable wife who incidentally is an old friend of Elenore’s, would be just the thing, thus starting a love triangle that both compels and maddens the reader. They set out to visit Lysette, who has never been presented to society because of her supposed madness. Villiers feels torn between the alluring, sharp-witted Elenore and the unconventional Lysette. An irresistible attraction pulls him towards Elenore while his conscience compels him to consider Lysette as the more devoted mother.
A love triangle that is equally heart-melting and maddening
This love triangle shines through its characters. I especially loved Elenore’s blunt and witty sister Anne. Unfortunately, she doesn’t appear as often as I would like. Elenore and Villiés tease each other relentlessly but they almost never seem to reach a decision. While Elenore is still hung up on her past lover, Villiers is the only one who doesn’t see Lysette’s faults, even though or perhaps because they hardly exchange a word.
What drives me mad is Villiers’ blindness towards Elenore’s ability to be a good mother when she proves it to him time and time again how capable she is. In fact, Elenore’s interaction with Villiers’ children was one of the best things in this book and I wished they played a bigger role than they do. He is also blind to Lysette’s faults until the very end. Elenore isn’t better in that sense, saying yes to the engagement one day and accepting Lysette as Villiers’ choice in the next. But that was what made me finish the book in two days. I just couldn’t stop until they all came to their senses.
This is an exasperating and lovely read in many ways. I wished for the characters to be more decisive, for Elenore to grab what she wants, for Villiers to listen to what his children want, for Lysette to care for someone else but herself, and for Anne to shake them all up with her sharp tongue. Still, I enjoyed the book, mainly because I wanted the unlucky Villiers to find some happiness of his own. He does in a way, although he chooses a strange way to go about it.h