ARC Review: A Debt of Dishonor by Lillian Marek

About the Book:

Title: A Debt of Dishonor

Author: Lillian Marek

Series: Lords of Sussex – Book 2

Page Length: 229

Publication Date: Feb. 11, 2021

Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing

Synopsis: Kate Russell is furious.

It was bad enough that her father had let her grow up in virtual poverty, but now, her dissolute brother wants to use her as payment for his debts. She runs away, determined to make her way so that she will never again be at the mercy of powerful men.

Then she encounters the Duke of Ashleigh.

He has overcome the shame of his parents’ scandalous lives and has a well-deserved reputation for honorable behavior. Then he encounters Kate, the niece of an old friend. There is some mystery about her background.

She is not the sort of well-bred lady of impeccable reputation that he plans to marry someday, but he can’t get her out of his mind. 

LINKS:     Goodreads   |        Amazon     

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My Review:

A Debt of Dishonor follows Kate as she flees London and an unwanted marriage arrangement made by her scheming brother. Kate seeks refuge with her aunt Franny and tries to start over. However, many obstacles stand in her way. When Kate meets the Duke of Ashleigh, she knows there is no possibility of a future with him, but she can’t deny her feelings. Ashleigh’s duties prevent him from marrying Kate, but his heart tells him something different. Can Kate trust the Duke? How will Ashleigh react when he learns of Kate’s past?

This is a lovely historical romance with dynamic characters, an interesting and suspenseful plot, and excellent messages of female empowerment and friendship. I adored Kate! She is a woman without money and resources who refuses to fall victim to the manipulations of her selfish brother. Intelligent and sincere, she is well-read, informed, and strong in her opinions. I love her determination and her astuteness. She is the type of person that people gravitate towards, which says a lot about her kindness and good intentions. I think this is why Ashleigh is so drawn to her.

Ashleigh is not used to being challenged, and Kate does exactly that. It’s pretty clear from the start that Ashleigh and Kate are attracted to one another, though neither act on their feelings. Their romance is slow-building and filled with yearning. Both are proud, and both have trauma in their pasts. It’s lovely to see this pair slowly let down their defenses and find love.

One of my favorite parts of the story, besides the romance, is the representation of strong females throughout the story. The story also shows powerful bonds of friendship between women. Kate had a lovely bond with her mother and develops a close kinship with her new female friends as well as her aunt Franny.

I love how the women each strive for independence in their own way while supporting each other, and their conversations are fantastic – honest, funny, and supportive. Husbands, brothers, and potential mates have failed these women throughout their lives, and now they are all determined to live their lives on their own terms. This is not easy in a male-dominated society, but none of the women will be deterred.

My name is Shakespearean as well. My mother called me Kate after Shakespeare’s shrew. She said that ‘shrew’ is just the name men give to women who stand up for themselves, and the world would be better off if all women were shrews.

The women, and the noble men in their lives, surround Kate with kindness and protect her from the threats in London. I love that Kate found such a wonderful support system, especially considering the lonely and unsupportive situation she was in at the start of the story.

I also like that these wonderful women did find male counterparts that were honorable and good. Men like Ashleigh, Stephen, and Franny’s husband (now deceased) stand in stark contrast to the more dastardly males in Kate, Lady Talmadge, Franny, and even Ashleigh’s present and past. For example, the Earl of Farnsworth and Viscount Newell (Kate’s brother) are two reprobates who use their power and influence to get what they want. Unfortunately for them, the Duke of Ashleigh and his friends stand in their way.

The Earl of Farnsworth and Viscount Newell are such reprehensible characters. However, their villainous plans and intentions add suspense and uncertainty to the story. Will they make good on their threats? Is Kate’s life in danger? How far are they willing to go to get what they want? These are two men that don’t seem to take no for an answer, and their manipulative and threatening ways prove dangerous to Kate and Ashleigh’s happiness.

A story of love, friendship, and fighting against adversity, A Debt of Dishonor is a wonderful slow-building and slow-burning romance. Though it is the second book in the series, it can totally be read as a standalone. Thanks so much to NetGalley, Dragonblade Publishing, and Lillian Marek for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance, of course. Kate and the Duke of Ashleigh (Peter) have a lovely romance and they complement each other well.
  • The strong female bonds and messages of female empowerment.
  • The suspense and intrigue.

Favorite Lines:

I do not see why anyone should be required to suffer the bad simply because things could be worse. They could also be a good deal better.

A woman who pretends to be a fool in order to catch a husband will end up with the fool she deserves.

Family obligations must be mutual obligations.

There is a point at which protection becomes oppression. The shackles if kindness and good intentions are still shackles.


This is a great story for lovers of historical romance!!

12 thoughts on “ARC Review: A Debt of Dishonor by Lillian Marek

  1. I am glad I didn’t live back then. This sounds like wonderful story about how strong women can stick together and support each other as well as find upstanding men. Not sure if that actually happened back then, but it sure is enjoyable to read about it. Great review, Julie.

  2. Ooh, yas for stories with women empowerment themes! Women supporting women, women succeeding, and having frank and honest discussions with each other… I’m loving the sound of all of this! Will definitely be keen to check this out 😍 Great review, Julie!

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