THE DUKE is book four in Kerrigan Byrne's Victorian
series. Just as the main characters from the previous
three books appear in THE DUKE, there are some elements
from all three that make their way into this latest
installment while simultaneously telling a story that
feels very different from the others. The story opens
when Collin "Cole" Talmage, Duke of Trewyth and
Imogen "Ginny" Pritchard first meet. Between their first
meeting and parting, and the moment they are thrown into
each other's path again, they have both undergone immense
changes in their lives and endured tragedy. THE DUKE is
the kind of sensual epic love story told on a grand scale
that Kerrigan Byrne is known for.
I've read historical romances that feature feuding
neighbors who turn into lovers, but Cole and Imogen are
so much more than that. In some ways, THE DUKE is
reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo. After a
passionate encounter three years ago, and after the hero
has suffered some trauma, two lovers unexpectedly find
each other again. The only problem is that Cole fails to
recognize Imogen, and she has good reason to not reveal
herself. I'm glad that THE DUKE offers the point of view
of both the hero and the heroine, because Cole is bitter
and a little brusque and somewhat insulting toward Imogen
when they first meet up again. There's a wonderful irony
in THE DUKE as Cole pushes Imogen away even though she's
one of the few people that can truly empathize with him.
There is a desperation about him as he searches for
someone he yearns for, partially idealizes, and who he
hopes will perhaps give him back a part of himself he
believes to be gone forever. As their experiences have
changed Cole and Imogen in many ways, it's a struggle for
them to find a new love with the longed-for lover they
lost and then found.
Imogen is somebody who might have led a very simple life,
if not for circumstances forcing her to be the strong
woman she was always capable of being. This is a heroine
who is admirable, not just because she is a survivor, but
because of how she later goes on to give others the help
that she once needed. Even when Cole didn't know her true
identity and was confounded by her, he grudgingly admired
her tenacity and strength. The weight of carrying her
secrets, as well as her suppressed attraction to Cole
when she meets him again, is part of what makes Imogen
such a compelling character.
THE DUKE is a beguiling second-chance love story full of
eroticism and pathos. I loved checking in with the
couples from the previous books. THE DUKE is just as
exciting as the other books in this "Victorian Rebels"
series, but a drop more angst. Several of the supporting
characters in THE DUKE snared my interest and have me
anxiously awaiting the next book by Kerrigan Byrne.
Strong as a Viking. Handsome as Adonis. Rich as Midas.
Collin "Cole" Talmage, Duke of Trewyth, is the stuff that
legends are made of. He's the English Empire's golden
son--until fate has its way with him. Cole's family is
killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the
battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not
one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor--and
desire. And now he's ready for the fight of his lifetime...
Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital
by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she
was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous
night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by
his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of
convenience--one that left her a wealthy widow--but she
never forgot Cole. Now that her long-lost lover has turned
up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her,
Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past
remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her
leaves him wanting to protect and possess her...at all costs?