About the Book:
Title: The Duchess Hunt
Author: Lorraine Heath
Series: Once Upon a Dukedom #2
Page Length: 368
Publication Date: Sept. 28, 2021
Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath continues her Once Upon a Dukedom series with this lush love story of a duke who discovers what he desires in a wife may not be what he needs…
Hugh Brinsley-Norton, the Duke of Kingsland, is in need of a duchess. However, restoring the dukedom—left in ruins by his father—to its former glory demands all his time, with little room for sentiment. He places an advert encouraging the single ladies of the ton to write why they should be the one chosen, and leaves it to his efficient secretary to select his future wife.
If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.
But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?
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The second book in Lorraine Heath’s Once Upon a Dukedom series, The Duchess Hunt focuses on the Duke of Kingsland and his secretary Penelope Pettypeace. For eight years their relationship has been strictly professional. However, when the duke tasks Penelope with finding him a wife, Penelope knows she will do what she must to find him the perfect match, even if it breaks her heart. When a blackmail note threatens all they have worked for, Penelope and Kingsland must face their pasts and decide if they should risk revealing their feelings for each other.
Penelope is fantastic! She is smart and independent, secure in her position as King’s secretary. I love her confidence and her fierceness. She is not easily intimidated, and, much like King, she excels at her job. King is a man who likes to be in control. He is hugely successful and powerful, but he struggles to let people in. Both have secrets from the past that threaten to ruin their well-controlled and structured lives. I like how their secrets are slowly revealed throughout the story. They are tortured by their pasts, but the closer they become, the more willing they are to trust each other with their innermost secrets. I found this part of the story really interesting and unpredictable. I was surprised when their respective secrets were revealed and didn’t expect either.
Penelope and King respect and admire each other, and they have worked together for eight years. They know each other well, but solely on a professional level. They both love each other, but their reluctance to cross the boundary that has been in place for almost a decade stops them from expressing their feelings. This leads to a lot of angst and sexual tension, which is fantastic. There’s so much yearning, since Penelope has loved King for years, and King is so unaware of and confused by his feelings. It takes him a long time to realize just how much he’s taken her for granted, but once he does, he does everything in his power to change. I loved their love story and how their relationship deepened and changed, and I wholly rooted for them even though social expectations, arranged engagements, secrets, blackmail, and more stand in their way.
You know those love stories where the characters always refer to each other by their last names as a way to keep each other at a distance and maintain some semblance of formality? Then, when they finally use each other’s first names, it’s an epic moment – passion-filled and romantic and swoon-worthy? This book does that so well! It’s the type of romance that I find myself sighing deeply when reading because of the sheer beauty of it. I felt myself swooning a time or two, and the first time Kingsland said “Penelope,” I definitely fell in love with this couple a little more. The depth of their feelings and their longing for each other is lovely.
Other characters in the story are equally interesting, and I’m hopeful that some of them will be featured in upcoming books in the series. King’s friends The Chessman and a couple of the women that King and Penelope meet are intriguing, and I’d love to learn more of their stories. Something else I really like about this series is the epilogues, which take place years after the conclusion of the story. I always wonder what happens to my favorite characters after the story ends, and Heath provides us with the answers in these books. It’s wonderful to see how their stories, and other characters’ stories, progressed and changed.
This is a wonderful historical romance with dynamic characters and strong messages about love, trust, and forgiveness. Plus the love story is swoon-tastic! Even though this is the second book in the Once Upon a Dukedom series, it can easily be read as a standalone. Of course, Scoundrel of My Heart, the first book is also fantastic, and I highly recommend it! Thanks so much to NetGalley, Lorraine Heath, and Avon for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance!
- The character development.
- The wonderful messages.
Women’s money spends the same as a man’s.
That is the thing about monsters, Pettypeace. They are monsters because they can delude people into believing they aren’t.
He focuses so much on the details of the trees that he fails to see the magnificence of the forest.
Don’t be afraid of the price you might have to pay to gain what you truly want.