A DUKE IN THE NIGHT is book one in a new series by
Kelly Bowen, Devils of Dover. Kelly Bowen is
an auto-read historical author for me, bursting onto the
publishing scene in 2014. Don't let the twee titles of
Bowen's books fool you, Kelly provides romping historicals
of sass and steam.
August Faulkner is a duke, but he grew up poor, with
his father in debtor's prison. Naturally, he has a
driving need for wealth, feeling he can never be rich
enough to feel secure from his perception of an uncertain
future. I do feel badly for him, but this sure does
drive him to make some poor life choices in terms of his
love and affection for his poor long-suffering sister and
Clara Hayward is the headmistress of the most
elite finishing school in Britain. She's a brilliant
bluestocking who is trying, with her siblings, to hold on
to the family's business that their deceased baron of a
father imperiled. Clara sells her finishing school to
gain some desperately-needed money to prop up the
family's shipping business, and in waltzes August to snap
up the school and to try to winkle the shipping business
into his Midas-like clutches. August's machination in
the background to keep Clara from realizing what he is
doing verge on farcical, it's so fun to watch him try
to keep all the balls spinning.
The cluelessness of August about his feelings is sweet
and charming, as well as a little heartbreaking. I
simultaneously applaud Clara's feminist streak while
being a little offput by the inclusion of what feels like
modern day feminist sensibilities in a historical
romance. This is a soapbox issue for me, however, that
affects so many authors currently. If one can overlook
the remarkably prescient feminism of so many of the
female characters, this is a sprightly read.
I'm always glad to pick up a romance by Kelly Bowen.
Her characters are witty yet wounded, and the love story
is always strong and convincing. Bowen's A DUKE IN THE
NIGHT is an engaging book with plenty of feminist details
to make the modern day reader feel validated.
Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man
of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women
into his bedchamber. He's known-and reviled-for buying and
selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking
hearts. It's a reputation he wears like a badge of honor,
and one he intends to keep.
Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for
Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when
she's reunited with August all she can think of is the way
she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten
long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only
back in her life to take over her family's business, her
heart can't help but open to the very duke who could destroy
it for good.