. . . the sole remaining bachelor of the three self-proclaimed Decadent Dukes. Yet Davina MacCallum’s reasons for searching out the handsome Duke of Brentworth have nothing to do with marriage. Scottish lands were unfairly confiscated from her family by the Crown and given to his. A reasonable man with vast holdings can surely part with one trivial estate, especially when Davina intends to put it to good use. Brentworth, however, is as difficult to persuade as he is to resist.
The Duke of Brentworth’s discretion and steely control make him an enigma even to his best friends. Women especially find him inscrutable and unapproachable—but also compellingly magnetic. So when Davina MacCallum shows no signs of being even mildly impressed by him, he is intrigued. Until he learns that her mission in London involves claims against his estate. Soon the two of them are engaged in a contest that allows no compromise. When duty and desire collide, the best laid plans are about to take a scandalous turn—into the very heart of passion . . .
Madeline Hunter’s novels are:
“Brilliant, compelling. . . . An excellent read.”
—The Washington Post
“Mesmerizing.” —Publishers Weekly
“Pure passion.” —Booklist
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Davina touched the crown of her bonnet to make sure it was still angled correctly. She smoothed the leather of her gloves. The anteroom in which she sat held two other people, both gentlemen from their bearings and garments. She assumed she would have to wait for them to be seen first.
The summons had arrived three days ago, impressive in its cream laid paper, exquisite penmanship and crested wax seal. It instructed her to arrive at St. James's Palace at one o'clock today, and to give the summons to a page at the door of the Tapestry room. That young man had brought her to this chamber to wait.
What a commotion that letter had caused. Mr. Hume, her employer, had insisted on reading it, then demanded her attention for almost an hour while he instructed her on how to behave, what to say, what not to say, and how to subtly make threats without doing so outright. She hoped she would be spared the last. On her lap she had the letter her grandfather had received from Court. Surely once it was seen all would be rectified.
She fingered the other paper she carried, the one in her father's hand where he explained all he knew about the legacy. He had given it to her when he became ill with the malady that would kill him. I am entrusting all this to you, for what good it will do. Still, you've a right to know. She wished she had him beside her now. His quiet, steady manner had always given her confidence.
A different page appeared in the chamber. He approached her. The two gentlemen did not take that well. Their glares followed her while the page escorted her out.
She was almost never nervous, but her stomach churned now. Still, she needed to keep her wits about her if she were going to speak to the king.
The page brought her to an office not far from the anteroom. A man greeted her and bade her sit on the blue-silk upholstered chair near the large window. He then sat nearby in a wooden chair that kept his posture very straight.
"I am pleased to meet you, Miss MacCallum. I am Jonathan Haversham. I am of the Household."
He meant the king's household, of course. Perhaps he was an important functionary in it. Maybe not. For all she knew Mr. Haversham was nothing more than a very old page. He certainly wasn't a young one. He looked to be about fifty, his gray hair had turned sparse on the sides and absent on the top. Lean and angular, his heavy-lidded dark eyes and wide, flaccid mouth gave the impression he resented having to deal with her.
"Your petition for an audience was received," he said.
"I have sent others."
"I am aware of that. I am sure you can imagine how busy His Majesty is. He is not indifferent to the concerns of his subjects, however, so he has asked me to speak with you."
So she would not see the king. At least she was being seen by someone, however. "As I explained in each of my letters, I have evidence that my great-grandfather's estate was taken by the Crown after he died. I know that in many such cases the property was later returned to the family. I have a letter from the king's father that he would do the same for us." She handed over an old folded parchment. "The king himself told me when he was in Edinburgh that he would address the matter."
Mr. Haversham perused the letter. "What makes you think your grandfather was the heir to these properties?"
"He told my father that he was, before he died."
Mr. Haversham smiled slightly. "There have been errors on such matters."
"The last king did not think so." She gestured to the letter he still held.
"The last king was at times confused." He looked down at the letter. She wondered if he wanted to claim it was a forgery. That would be hard to do, because it bore a seal. "Do you have whatever proof was sent to the palace, to convince the last king of your grandfather's claim?"
"I assume it was kept by the king."
"We have found no evidence of it."
Her heart sank. She could not guarantee there ever had been evidence, so she could hardly now demand they find it.
"The king, this king, the living one, told me personally that he would look into this and deal with it. He was in Edinburgh and I had an audience. You were not there, but I am sure he remembers and, if not, there were others like you present who certainly do. The man who obtained the audience for me does." I have proof of this at least, so don't try to put me off.
His lips thinned and folded like a frog's. "No one questions that meeting, Miss MacCallum. We will indeed look into it. We have already begun. Hence my comment about the proof. It will be needed. Kings do not hand over land to claimants merely on their say-so. As for this," he waved the letter that he still held. "It will figure in the final determination of what to do once that proof is found."
She took the opportunity on one wave to snatch it away. "I will hold it, if you do not mind. I would not want it to be lost and I am sure you have thousands of letters here."
"Of course. As you wish." He glanced at the letter greedily.
"I will also endeavor to provide yet more proof, to support that which was sent all those years ago," she said. "I am determined to settle this."
"As are we, I assure you." He stood and offered his hand to help her up. "You will give His Majesty's regards to the duchess, I hope. He was delighted to receive her letter."
Davina doubted that. However, that letter was probably why she had been received by anyone at all. If not for the Duchess of Stratton, this entire journey to London would have been a waste of time.
Again a page escorted her through corridors and chambers until he deposited her in the drawing room.
No one took note of her. A few glances came her way but immediately moved on. Too unfashionable to be important, those fluttering lids said. She didn't care. She had not come here to impress anyone with her style and wit. She had come for justice, for herself, her father, and the grandfather she had never met.
Her mind returned to her meeting. She picked through the memory, seeking evidence it had gone better than her dampened mood believed. As she did so, the door to which she walked opened and a man entered.
She halted in her tracks. Considering what had just transpired with Mr. Haversham, this man's presence only increased her consternation.
He entered like he had been here a hundred times before, which he probably had. No need for him to gawk at the large chamber's appointments the way she did.
He made his presence known through no effort or intention. Everyone noticed him arrive. Some ladies repositioned themselves so they might catch his eye.
He stood taller than anyone else and his bearing insinuated a man who did not bend easily. His vague smile implied tolerance more than friendliness. His handsome, chiseled face, with its straight nose and square jaw, reflected the Germanic blood brought into the family line by a great-grandmother. His eyes, more a dark gray than blue, created a steely gaze that shot through all that it saw.
Eric Marshall, the Duke of Brentworth. The most ducal duke, he was called.
Davina had been introduced to him several days ago, at a party to celebrate the Duchess of Stratton finally taking credit as the patroness of Parnassus, a woman's journal of increasing renown. Davina had been invited because she contributed essays to the journal. That was the only reason she knew the duchess, or any of the other ladies present. Almost everyone in attendance far surpassed her in social standing.
The duke had condescended to have some conversation with her at that party. She had held her own, using the opportunity to take his measure. One should do that with a person who might be an enemy. Of course, she had known when they met that she would have this meeting today, and had anticipated a much more favorable outcome then. A summons from the king gave one a lot of confidence when meeting a duke.
She had no interest in conversing with the duke today. She averted her gaze, and aimed through the chamber, turning her thoughts again to the potentially insurmountable problem of finding more evidence to support her petition about her legacy.
* * *
It was rare for Brentworth to receive a summons to Court. Granted, it had not been a true summons. More of an invitation, to the extent that kings ever invite instead of summon. His Majesty would be happy to receive you tomorrow at two o'clock.
He entered St. James's Palace at fifteen minutes to two, wondering why the king would want to see him at all. He and the king did not rub well together. The king was a fool and Brentworth was not, so they had little in common.
He considered that it might have to do with the meeting he had attended earlier in the day. The king may have learned about the renewed efforts to again pick up the question of abolishing slavery in the colonies. He might want to voice his views on the matter and think an informal conversation with a duke would be the best way to do that.
Brentworth had no idea what that view would be. This king was not known for engagement in political questions, or in much, really, except his pleasure. He probably did have opinions, however. Most men did, no matter how ill-informed those men might be.
It was not a drawing room day, so few people were about. There was no crush in the anteroom of those hoping to obtain vouchers to watch the nobility on parade. He strode through that chamber and the next and entered the drawing room. At most twenty people moved through it, chatting.
He did not announce himself to any of the pages. They knew him, and upon his arrival one hurried across the chamber and disappeared through the door that led to some offices.
He idled in the drawing room, awaiting either the king himself or an escort to wherever the king lounged. While he did he saw a young woman in serviceable blue garments and bonnet stride across the chamber. He recognized her as Miss MacCallum. He had been introduced to her at a party earlier in the week. She was a writer with an unusual interest in medicine.
She had impressed him with her ability to hold her own in a chamber full of nobles and members of the ton. He could not ignore that during their brief conversation she had been sincerely unimpressed with his title or status. That almost never happened, especially with women. Most peers would be annoyed. He had been intrigued.
Her bonnet obscured most of her blond hair, hiding its short length. That cropping had been apparent at that party despite a heroic attempt to disguise it. He had concluded that her interest in medicine derived from a serious illness of her own, a recent one in which her hair had been cut off to help with the fever.
Right now she appeared both out of place and distraught. He intercepted her before she could leave.
"Miss MacCallum, what a pleasant surprise."
She halted abruptly and blinked away whatever had been distracting her. She executed a neat curtsy. "Your Grace."
"Are you unwell? You appear haunted."
She glanced back at the door that led to the long wing with offices. "Not haunted so much as distressed that my business here is being treated lightly."
"You have business at court?"
"I do. I think it unlikely it will ever be addressed as it should be, however. I learned that much today." Her features, too bold to be fashionable, moved easily to express her thoughts and moods. Right now she appeared to be fighting both despair and fury.
"It is nothing serious, I hope."
The anger won. "Do I appear to be a woman who would waste a monarch's time with frivolous matters?"
"Of course not," he soothed, drawing her aside. "If you were in some way insulted you must let me know. I will make sure it does not happen again."
"Not insulted as such. Just dismissed as unworthy of fairness." She looked down on herself, on the neat but simple blue muslin dress and deep blue spencer. "Perhaps if I had dressed like ..." She gestured to the ladies chatting nearby. "Like them, it would have helped."
Probably so. "Not at all. You look fine." Solid and honest and with a character not dependent on garments and fashion. A self-possession that he had noticed when they met at the Duchess of Stratton's party still ruled her, but her distress softened her enough that his protective nature emerged. "Can I help in some way?"
His offer startled her. She regarded him, cocking her head, as if she considered ways in which he could indeed help before thinking better of it. "It is a private matter, thank you. Only the king can help me, and I fear he will not. I must decide whether to accept that or battle on."
"If you are in the right, do not lay down your arms now. The Household strives to protect him and remove problems before they even know if a problem truly exists. If you persevere you may yet succeed." Oh, how smoothly it all came out. He did not really believe a word of it. Those men back there would bury whatever she claimed needed fixing forever if they thought it best for their master.
She nodded firmly. "You are correct. Your reminder is well taken. I can still muster the evidence I need to get his attention."
The door across the chamber opened and a balding crown emerged. Miss MacCallum noticed. "I must go now, Your Grace. I do not want to see that man again until I am ready for him." She dipped a fast curtsy then disappeared while the bald head worked its way across the large chamber. It finally stopped right in front of Brentworth.
"Your Grace, thank you for coming."
He knew Haversham. The man had been in the king's tow for decades. He could not see him without thinking of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Cassius has a lean and hungry look. Let me have men about me that are fat.
"My liege summoned me. Or so I thought."
Haversham flushed. "I wrote at his instruction, but today he asked me to speak for him."
"I am not accustomed to having anyone, even a king, foist me off on a clerk."
"Foisted? Good heavens no. Not at all. It will save you much time if I do the preliminaries, so to speak. Explain a few things. Then should you meet with His Majesty you will not have to wait on his explanation, which might be less direct." He coughed into his fist. "If you understand me."
He understood. It could take the king an hour to say whatever Haversham would complete in ten minutes. "At least you were not so stupid as to have me delivered to you by a page."
"Of course not! Truly, it is best if we speak privately before — that is, the matter is of some embarrassment to His Majesty and he would prefer if I — If you could sit with me over here, I will try to explain."
Here were two chairs tucked behind a statue in an attempt to create a bit of privacy. Brentworth threw himself into one of them and waited for Haversham to get on with it.
"As you know, after the Jacobite rebellion, a number of Scottish titles were attainted. In the case of some commoners, lands were taken," Haversham began. "In a few cases, the lands of deceased feudal barons reverted to the Crown due to there being no heirs or descendants. In such cases, official attainder was not pursued."
"All of that was settled a generation ago."
"True, but — on occasion, we will still receive a petition to reopen the matter regarding this estate or that. Someone will claim to be the descendant of one of those men, and want the land back. Charlatans normally. Adventurers." Haversham dismissed the frauds with a sneer. "It happens more often than you would guess. Some petition the Crown after the College of Arms rejects the claim. We have a letter we send to all of them, warning them off under penalty of imprisonment. That normally does it."
"And when it doesn't?"
"I deal with them. It is lengthier, but eventually they go away."
"Good. Why did this bring me here today?"
Haversham appeared surprised. "Oh! I thought you knew. Well, this is embarrassing." He leaned in. "Recently, such a descendant came forth. Only this one has a letter from the last king that all but acknowledges the claim."
"How awkward for you."
"Most awkward. It is not a forgery. It is a signed and sealed letter all but admitting that the descendant is indeed a descendant and all but promising the estate will be returned. Well, of course the king was mad at the time. Who knows what he would write? Yet, there it is."
"Do you want my advice? Is that why I was summoned here? I think you should —"
"With respect, Your Grace, that is not why you were invited. When I came out and saw you I assumed you knew. You were speaking with Davina MacCallum. She is the claimant in question. She is insisting on another audience with the king to discuss the matter. I have been charged with seeing that never happens."
"I regret to say they met in Edinburgh."
"If a five-minute audience will placate her, I don't see why —"
"In addition to the letter from the last king, I regret to say she has a promise from this one, obtained in Edinburgh. The entire matter promises to be a potential embarrassment to His Majesty. A very big one. It is vital that the whole story does not be bandied about."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Never Deny A Duke"
Copyright © 2019 Madeline Hunter.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well, why would you deny a duke? Because he has some family land that was taken years ago but needs to be returned!! I love this author's stories and she always creates a memorable romance that you cannot put down until the end! A heroine that is determined, Davina MacCallum found out on her father's death bed about an estate that should rightly go to her since a barony is attached. Women are allowed to inherit. But currently it was in the hands of Eric Marshall, Duke of Brentwood. Look out is all I have to say!! Eric is the last of three dukes that are friend's to be unmarried. He is a "true" aristocrat with his proper and unapproachable manner. He was however very handsome and could almost see your thoughts with his fabulous grey eyes! Prepare for a delightful match of wills to see who would come out the victor. But in this standoff it seems like they both may win!! What a fantastic series, with an epilogue that brought everyone back together and had me smiling as I turned the last page!!I read this through NetGallery. Lori Dykes
I loved Eric and Davina's story!! Davina is just trying to get back her legacy. The problem is that the man who currently holds the property doesn't believe that she has a right to it. But Eric has met his match with Davina. She isn't afraid to go toe to toe with the formidable duke. Who will win this battle of wills? I loved watching Davina and Eric together. I loved that Davina never backed down when Eric challenged her. I think that is what also attracted him to her. He wasn't used to someone going against him. This was a great conclusion to the Decadent Dukes Society and I'm sorry to see it it as I have throughly enjoyed the series. But I'm also excited to see what Hunter has in store for us next!
At Last! It is the time for the story of Eric Marshall, the Duke of Brentworth, and the Most Ducal Duke. He is the last of the Decadent Dukes, a joking name picked by three young future dukes. The trio of Stratton, Langford and Brentworth knew, even at Eton, they would always be considered and treated differently. As dukes they would someday be the big dogs, top o’ the heap; no title more important or powerful in England, except for royalty. Brentworth meets his match in Miss Davina MacCallum in Madeline Hunter’s Never Deny a Duke. He owns a Scottish estate; Davina thinks the estate, along with its title-which can be passed down to a woman- belongs to her. Two kings have promised help to Davina, now one of those kings is dead; the other embarrassed by his promise and just wants the problem to go away. What do you with a problem like Davina? The king comes up with a brilliant idea, or so he thinks, but he is no match for Brentworth. Davina thinks because the estate’s manor house is mostly destroyed by fire, and because Brentworth has shown no interest in it, that he should just hand it over. But Brentworth, being Brentworth has no intention of handing over any of his properties to a probable fraudster. After all, as he proclaims on numerous occasions, “I am Brentworth”. He is especially not about to lose this particular estate, either by the wish of a King or the efforts of the Scottish nobody. Before the King makes Brentworth aware of Davina’s claim, he meets her socially as she writes for the journal owned by Clara, the Duchess of Stratton. Brentworth was intrigued by the young woman, who seems curious about him but not impressed with either him, his wealth or his title. Brentworth, in turn, becomes more interested in the young woman who is willing to go head -to-head with him and a respectful friendship is eventually formed as they both seek proof to her claim for the estate. Brentworth has always been the most mysterious, self-contained and discreet of the three dukes. It was nice to read of a character who was not a total man-ho. He is almost the complete opposite of Duke of Langford in actions and attitudes. It was amusing and welcome to read of the three friends together, with Brentworth actually consulting Langford for relationship advice. Ms Hunter has written a Regency character more refreshing than most. Davina is also an original. Hunter has not written about a titled young lady ultimately looking for marriage, but a strong woman of common origins who has managed her life and is willing to go to some lengths to prove her claim. Davina pits herself against a King, a Duke, a Scottish nationalist. Hunter, with Never Deny a Duke has hit the trifecta of an entertaining plot, original characters and writing as smooth as silk. Bonus points for the history behind the claim and the portrayal of Scotland. The Decadent Dukes has been one of my all time favorite Regency series. I am sorry to see it end; but I will look forward to Hunter’s next series. Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Never Deny a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society, #3) by Madeline Hunter What a great ending to this series... Thanks to the publisher and #NetGalley for allowing me to preview this book. Brentworth (Eric last of the Decadent Dukes) Davina MacCallum (granddaughter of the missing Barron) This is a great enemies to lovers story... His property in Scotland (one he doesn't talk about) is the same property that Davina says is hers. There are many twists and turns (some politics with the King), laughs, angst, adventure and steam...all to get to a very HEA. Reasons I enjoyed this book: Great world building Wonderful characters Unpredictable Easy-to-read Funny Happily Ever After Romantic Entertaining Page-turner Steamy
Davina is in London to press her family’s claim to an estate that had been given to an English Duke back in her grandfather’s time. She holds her own when being interviewed by the king’s man. But her claim is an embarrassment to the king so his man turns to the current owner, the Duke of Brentworth, for a solution. Eric is a bit of a cliche duke: handsome, confident, intimidating and with a secret. Davina and Eric’s conversations are smart and sharp; their friendship as well as the passion and romance builds slowly and organically. I was always pleasantly surprised by their reactions to each other’s actions/words and when they decided to be bold or hold back. Davina could have been bitter but chose to be happy and Eric respected Davina in a time when men were patronizing to women. Langford and Clara from the previous books also shined here (their spouses were a bit muted) and Davina’s chaperone was a nice touch. I read this over two days - it was that good. Characters, story, dialogue, historical setting all excellently written. Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy.
I immensely enjoyed reading this. It had a different prospective on a historical romance. What I liked the most was that the H/h were both very emotionally stable and confident people. I feel the main focus of the story was about our heroine, Miss Davina MacCallum, searching for her family history after her father on his death bed revealed a family secret. Davina is not your typical heroine. She is calm, level-headed, direct, astute, observant, dedicated, persistent in her causes and had a heart full of compassion. She did not try to impress anyone and she was down-to-earth. She did not fear speaking her mind but always with respect. She was always herself. Who would not admire a confident woman? In her quest Eric Marshall, the feared Duke of Brentworth was entangled in it. Eric's first impression of her was that she was a fraud making baseless claims. However, to amicable resolve the issue they agreed to work on it and do it together. Somehow Eric became more interested in Davina the more he got to know her and vice versa. It is a slow-moving romance but I feel not enough time was spent on it. Instead of smoothly moving through the romance it felt as if jumped from scene to scene. The good thing was that it did not affect the overall story. Eric is an intimidating man and was a part of the Prince Regent's inner circle. He was a powerful duke and yet Davina was not affected at all by him. She treated him as an equal and spoke to him as such. He was intrigued by her. Overtime the attraction, the intrigue led to the first kiss. Then another and another until the passion was so combustible, they could no longer deny themselves. A fascinating and interesting read of enemies to lovers. I do recommend.
Davina McCallum claims that she is the heir to a Scottish estate ceded to the Crown when her great-grandfather, Baron of Teyhill, died at the Battle of Culloden at the end of the Jacobite Rebellion. The Crown requires more proof, so her goal is to find it by tracking down information on her grandfather, the rightful heir, who was sent away to avoid harm after Culloden. Eric Marshall, Duke of Brentworth, hasn’t visited his Scottish estate since a tragic fire years before and struggles with both guilt and remorse. However, he has no intention of giving it up to Davina. When asked by the Crown to marry her so he can retain control of his family’s estate, he initially refuses but then decides to accompany her in her quest. Will Davina find the proof she needs or will she lose her heart and her inheritance to the Duke? Hunter has woven a double mystery in with the romance: Davina’s claim to the title and estate and Eric’s discomfort with going to Scotland because of the fire and probable cause of it. Otherwise, the story employs the usual historical romance tropes: strong-willed woman (usually orphaned) down on her luck; handsome, aloof aristocrat with a shadowy, painful past who avoids love and passion and is usually cool under pressure; situation that forces them together where they are initially antagonistic towards each other, but, as they work together, the passion and love grow; and love triangle including another man who usually has some ulterior motive to wanting to marry the heroine. This is a standalone, but the protagonists from the first two books are very instrumental in bringing Davina and Brentworth together. A fun, engaging romance that is a satisfying end to the series. I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Kensington Books/Zebra through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
Duke of Brentworth is the only remaining bachelor of the three self-proclaimed Decadent Dukes. Davina MacCallum's has her reasons for seeking out the Duke of Brentworth and it has nothing to do with him being handsome or marriage. Her Scottish lands were confiscated from her family by the Crown King and given to his. She needs proof and Brentworth she is hoping is a reasonable enough man that will listen to her claim and part with the estate and it's holdings because Davina has special plans for it. However, Brentworth, is difficult to persuade and he is becoming hard to resist. The Duke of Brentworth's is known far and wide for his discretion and self control. It's what makes other men including his best friends respect him. Women in particular find him to be unapproachable but wildly magnetic. So when Davina MacCallum shows no signs of being impressed by him, he becomes intrigued. When he learns about her claims against his property and the mission she undertakes to find the proof needed, the two of them are soon engaged in a contest that will allow no compromises. But when duty collides with desire, plans no longer become more important than the matters of the heart
He is the last duke standing, the sole remaining bachelor of the three self-proclaimed Decadent Dukes. Yet Davina MacCallum’s reasons for searching out the handsome Duke of Brentworth have nothing to do with marriage. Scottish lands were unfairly confiscated from her family by the Crown and given to his. A reasonable man with vast holdings can surely part with one trivial estate, especially when Davina intends to put it to good use. Brentworth, however, is as difficult to persuade as he is to resist. The Duke of Brentworth’s discretion and steely control make him an enigma even to his best friends. Women especially find him inscrutable and unapproachable—but also compellingly magnetic. So when Davina MacCallum shows no signs of being even mildly impressed by him, he is intrigued. Until he learns that her mission in London involves claims against his estate. Soon the two of them are engaged in a contest that allows no compromise. When duty and desire collide, the best laid plans are about to take a scandalous turn—into the very heart of passion . . . This was a really good story that I enjoyed reading. I loved following both characters as they sought to unravel the estate in question and ended up falling in love. I really liked both characters and their interaction with each other. Brentworth reminded me a lot like Mr. Darcy, an I really liked Davina but she was a bit more practical than Elizabeth. I highly recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Never Deny a Duke, third in Madeline Hunter's Decadent Duke series, is another fabulous read by this author. Eric, our Duke, owns a property that holds a secret he wishes to forget. Davina, our heroine, believes this property is hers, taken from her family and given away. She has petitioned the Crown to look into the matter. Both the King and his father previously, had agreed to do so, but nothing has come of it. Eric believes her to be wrong; Davina stubbornly believes she is right. While looking for proof one way or the other, nether believes that their opponent will share the truths they find. So together they set out (scandalous!) to see what they can find. And along the way, their lives take an abrupt turn. We have our two Dukes from the first and second stories weighing in; one with comic relief, one with the voice of reason. And their wives are apparently guiding Divina. To see what secrets await these two, what their futures may become, get your copy of never Deny a Duke and read on. You won't be disappointed.
Madeline Hunter Never Deny a Duke Never Deny a Duke is the third book in the Decadent Duke series. Davina , the last of the MaCallums, wants her family’s Scotland property returned to her. She claims the present king has the proof of ownership. She wants to turn the house into a hospital for the poor. The former king gave the land to the Duke of Brentworth, after the battle of Culloden. Eric, the present Duke, won’t forfeit the land. Davina seeks proof that the land belongs to her family. They decide to travel to Scotland together to look for the proof. On their travels they get to know each other. Can the attraction between the “frenemies” overcome the land dispute? I have enjoyed reading Madeline Hunter’s books and this one is no exception. I like her engaging characters --- especially the determined heroines! She weaves past characters into her books and I like the familiarity. In Never Deny a Duke, we meet Adam and Clara and Amanda and Gabriel. They add more “color” to the story. I also like the history tidbits found in Madeline’s books. I learned that Barons were not considered Peers in Scotland! The ending of the book came all to soon. I received an ARC of this book for my honest opinion: I enjoyed reading it and liked the ending. I am looking forward to Madeline Hunter’s next Historical Romance!
The last book in the Decadent Dukes Society trilogy is about the wickedly handsome Eric Marshall, the Duke of Brentworth who finally meets his match in the fiercely independent Davina MacCallum. Davina has papers to prove she is the legal owner of her ancestor’s lands and estate and request they be returned to their rightful owner. The problem is the Eric feels he is the rightful owner. It’s a battle wits between them while the king and his advisors are trying to determine who has the true legal right and ownership of a Scottish estate. Davina is willing to go to some lengths to prove her claim and she pits herself against a King, a Duke, a Scottish nationalist. A great story with a strong independent woman and the oh so handsome Duke are battling for their home and lands, but maybe they’ll find more than they bargained for and find their HEA!!! I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.
Third in a trilogy of which I’ve only read the second one so far, and this is one of the best historical romances I’ve read in quite awhile! I found this one to be different from the usual storylines in historical romance which was refreshing. I loved both mains, and they seemed destined in many ways to find each other. The heroine Davina was particularly a favorite as a strong young woman who had assisted her father (doctor) growing up and wished to continue aiding others while determinedly trying to regain her family’s lost title/lands in Scotland. She was definitely one to cheer for! And Eric’s evolution from a follow-the-rules duke with a torturous secret to a man who is able to forgive himself and learn that it’s OK to feel passion was a pleasure to behold. Also some wonderful sensual scenes and sexy chemistry. Highly recommend! Thanks to the author, #NetGalley and #KensingtonBooks for the ARC. The opinions are strictly my own.
This is the last of the books about the Decadent Duke Society Series. The Society was formed by a small group of boys, all ducal heirs, at school together. In the first book, Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton finds his duchess and in the second Gabriel St James, Duke of Langford finds his. Neither had been looking for a wife and found one that was "different" from the usual duchess. So in this third book, the last of the trio, Eric Marshall, Duke of Brentworth finds his. Davina MacCallum came to London to recover her heritage, Scottish land that was confiscated by the Crown and give to Brentworth's. Two kings have promised to look into the matter and now she and Brentworth are both summoned to come to a compromise. Although he is extremely wealthy and has bad memories of the property, he is loath to give it up to someone he first believes is trying to defraud him. But his best friend's wives, who have befriended Davina, convince him to check out her claim, after the press gets a hold of the rumors. She insists that she comes with him or she will go on her own, so they set out on an adventure that slowly reveals the real person behind the public facade. And they both find that real person irresistible. As always, well developed characters with an intriguing plot and well researched background of the period. Secrets are woven into a conflict that makes this book hard to put down. I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher. This is my unbiased and voluntary review.
Miss Davina MacCallum has been summoned to St. James’s Palace to meet with Mr. Haversham of the King’s household. She has come to plead for the return of her great-grandfather’s estate that had been taken by the Crown after he died. The King at that time promised her father that it would be returned. That King is now dead, and the current King promised her that he would address the matter. The King is inclined to think that the request might be a forgery unless Davina can produce proof. As she leaves St. James Palace, Eric Marshall, the Duke of Brentworth, arrives. His nickname is the most ducal duke. Eric has been summoned by the King, but is unsure why. When he sees Davina leaving, he recalls having met her recently and that she is a writer with an interest in medicine. Eric soon learns that the estate that she seeks is owned by him. The King does not want to let Davina have the land back and now he is trying to get Eric to marry her so the land stays with him. This story continues with twists and turns which, quite frankly did not draw me in at all. To think there was a King so greedy and completely out of touch was a real turnoff. I’m sorry, but this book is just not for me. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
It was an enjoyable story. The passion was good, but a bit on the tame side, description wise, which was fine. Just go in not expecting a Donna Grant or Christine Feehan style with the passionate scenes. I enjoyed the characters and the concept, and the plot was steady and flowed well. I would have liked to see more emotional tension between the two main characters once they were married and Brentworth was sometimes too aloof, even when he declares his love. Overall, I liked it, but a bit on the tame side for my usual tastes.
I really enjoyed this well-written historical romance. Davina MacCallum is seeking to have an estate in Scotland that was unfairly taken from her family. The estate was given to the family of the Duke of Brentworth and the king asks him to find a solution. They are both very direct and unwilling to give up their position. They go on a trip together and get to know each other better. It was very entertaining to see their relationship develop and how things were worked out. I look forward to reading more books by this author and would recommend the author, as well as this book, to others.
This overall series has been a delight. The heroes were perfectly flawed and the heroines not only are their perfect foils, but they had skills, talents, and refreshingly different backstories. Because of the first two books I was soooooo anticipating watching Brentworth unravel...I wanted to know all the secrets of this delicious Decadent Duke!!! But it was Davina who stole my reading heart. She just so wanted a place to belong! Her determination to find her ancestral birthright, her own self worth and future even, was tightly wrapped up in her quest to reclaim the MacCallum’s Scottish lands. And nothing, not even Brentworth, could distract her...even though this very "ducal duke" did his very best #swoon The man has moves, people. And determination. Lucky for him, Davina is so very pragmatic! While I would have wanted to know ALL of the Duke of Brentworth’s secrets, watching him fall deeply for Davina, finding her calm him, becoming a true confident, with his calculated pretense of aiding her endeavors to find proof that her grandfather and father were true Scots barons was sooooooo worth my reading time. Silly man...he didn't stand a chance! Not with a Madeline Hunter heroine ;) So many feelings tied up in this story *sigh* Not to be missed...that epic epilogue! It was a satisfying ending to this decadently sensual trilogy, to be sure. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This wonderful wrap-up for the Decadent Dukes Society is delightfully different – not one of your standard tropes. The ‘Most Ducal Duke’ meets his match and it is a delight to watch. The book is well written and the characters are very relatable and likable. Eric Marshall, Duke of Brentworth has long been known as the most ducal of dukes. He’s always proper, dour, dutiful, and forbidding – as well as tall and handsome with gray eyes that “created a steely gaze that shot through all that it saw”. Brentworth received a rare summons to court and he had no idea why – especially since he and the king were not exactly friendly. What he hears is stunning and the king seems to expect him to deal with it without causing an uproar about it. Some Scottish chit has concocted a story and is trying to claim one of his estates. The charlatan! Soon it will be open season for ne’er-do-wells to just walk up and claim portions of estates. HUH! Davina MacCallum’s father, on his death bed, told her of what should be her legacy and she is adamantly bound-and-determined to claim that legacy. She wants it for herself, of course, because it is her birthright, but she also wants it to help the people in the region. According to her father, her grandfather had been sent away from his home (Teyhill) to keep him safe after the battle of Culloden. He was then raised in the Northumberland area of England and the estate was returned to the crown and then given to the Duke of Brentworth. The estate didn’t just come with property, it also came with a barony that could be inherited by the females as well as the males. Davina’s grandfather had spoken with the previous king who had promised to help him reclaim his land. Her grandfather sent the proof needed, but then the old king died and the proof has disappeared. Now, she is petitioning the current King and she feels she’s being stonewalled. She just has to find the proof of who her grandfather was. How? It was great fun to watch Davina and Eric go from enemies, to searching for proof, to finally finding their HEA. It was a delightful adventure with two very deserving characters. However, I think one of my favorite parts was the epilogue where we caught up with all three of the Decadent Dukes a few years later. We saw their families and their still loving relationships and it was a truly delightful addition to the story. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Never Deny A Duke is the third book in Madeline Hunter’s The Decadent Dukes Society Trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone but I enjoyed reading the first two so do recommend reading them. Davina MacCallum is trying to regain the land that her family lost after Cullodan when it was mistakenly thought that her grandfather had died. Eric Marshal, Duke of Brentworth is the current holder of the lands in question and he is not about to give them up. This is a delightful tale of enemies to lovers as the two set out together on a journey to Scotland to find the truth of who owns the lands. The slow burn as they discover that perhaps they have more in common than first thought will keep you up reading way past your bedtime. Medium Steam Publishing Date April 30, 2019 #KensingtonBooks #NetGalley #NeverDenyADuke #MadelineHunter #ZebraRomance
I thoroughly loved this book. I have always enjoyed Madeline Hunter’s writing, but I found this to be my absolute favorite. I love historical romance novels, but one common thread you usually find is the woman putting a road block on love because of some silly reason that’s only in her mind, with much back and forth. I appreciate that this novel doesn’t do that. It moves smoothly along and you really get to know the characters. I found myself reading long into the night as I didn’t want to put it down. The story keeps you engaged. Davina MacCallum is a woman of Scottish descent trying to prove to the King that she is the rightful heir to a property that was given away after the battle of Culloden. The King is sympathetic, but doesn’t want to take the property from the current owner, the Duke of Brentworth, without his agreement. Davina is determined to find the proof that the Scottish line did not die out at Culloden as was believed. Brentworth is just as determined to prove that it did, so they join forces to find the evidence. The fallout is a heartfelt, loving, sensual story that I really enjoyed.
Never Deny a Duke begins a little slow and the story slows for a smooth sailing to a HEA. Davina wants her family's lands and title back. Her petition to the King never really progresses, so she comes to England, working as a tutor and further investigating her case. The Duke of Brentworth craves discretion and propriety and is somewhat captivated by Davina since she fails to fall at his feet. The inevitable butting of heads come when the Duke discovers its his lands she wants. Together, they investigate to prove or in the Duke's case disprove her claim. Now, I expected way more conflict but it was surprising mellow from here on out. They ride to Scotland and fall in lust before working on their ever after. Davina has potential to be a great heroine but I felt she sizzled out just a little bit with accepting all the sparkle of being Duchess and not really continuing her work as a healer. The HEA hits on her dreams of a hospital but Davina settles down to do naughty things with the Duke. This book suffers from no big conflicts, no major ups and downs, and just slowly makes its way to a HEA that I wanted more from. Still the book is a pleasant read on a quiet afternoon that won't rip the heartstrings. My voluntary, unbiased review is based upon a review copy from Netgalley.
I received an eARC at no cost from the author, in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. Thank you. 3.75* I’m going to be completely and utterly honest with you: I was a bit afraid to read this book. If you follow this amazing author on social media, you might know her husband, Warren, passed away on February 2018. I had the immense pleasure to meet this lovely couple in person (thank you again, Madeline, for visiting Lisbon!) and had dinner with them in an informal setting. And, of course it is a dream come true to meet one your favourite authors, but I would also like to mention how sweet and caring Warren was. And so, what do you do when your “best friend, [your] great love, and biggest supporter” (Madeline's Facebook Post https://www.facebook.com/MadelineHunter/photos/a.10150099706873177/10155404391278177) passes away? I can only imagine how hard that must be, and how hard it must be to continue to write beautiful love stories. So, yes, I was a bit apprehensive to read Madeline’s new book, simply because I was afraid such an event could have changed the way she wrote/expressed those love stories. Thankfully, I didn’t need to be. Never Deny A Duke was a great book. It had the right amount of romance, a good plot line that introduced the characters and circumstances in a way that was easy to follow and to make us fall in love with such characters. Eric and Davina had different purposes in their lives, and at some point that collided. And here’s where the story starts, with a land dispute. And all could be solved (in a male point of view, of course) with a simple arranged marriage that would take care of everything. But Davina isn’t a fool, and Eric isn’t interested. And even when that interest changes for both of them, Davina’s pursuit of the truth doesn’t, which was the thing I most liked about her. Stories that mix Scots and English are always fun, simply because they may share a country, but they are, in their true essence, very different types of people. Our Scottish heroine Davina MacCallum, is fighting for what she believes to be her inheritance, and our British hero, Eric Marshall, the Duke of Brentworth, is fighting for what he believes to be rightfully his – even if it is something that has its own (dark) baggage. I loved how the couple looked together for the truth, in a forced proximity kind of scenario, and how that allowed them to understand each other better, and to develop and attraction, and later on a lasting, loving relationship. A great book that ticked almost all of the right boxes.