About the Book:
Title: The Duke Alone
Author: Christi Caldwell
Page Length: 319
Publication Date: Oct. 18, 2022
Synopsis: Lady Myrtle McQuoid has always felt a little forgotten, and this season is no exception. When her boisterous family vacates their London townhouse for the country, Myrtle finds she’s been left behind. But she just needs to stay warm, keep her belly full, and distract herself until her relatives realize their mistake and turn back to collect her. Surely that won’t take long.
Brooding widower Val Bancroft, the Duke of Aragon, has shut himself off from the world. He craves blessed solitude—a loyal dog, a silent house, and his own company are all he requires. Certainly not the nonstop chattering of the joyful, opinionated young woman next door.
But with a potential threat lurking in the winter shadows, Myrtle may need to pluck up the nerve to approach the reclusive duke. And Val is not one to turn his back on a vulnerable lady.
Amid the silent nights of London, beneath a blanket of snow, could the light of a new, warm love be kindling?
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The Duke Alone is a lovely historical romance about healing, feeling acceptance, and taking a chance on love. I enjoyed the characters and the Home Alone vibes in a Regency romance setting.
Myrtle is a wonderful protagonist. Often overlooked in her large and boisterous family, Myrtle is left behind when the family leaves to spend the holidays at their home in Scotland. Though she is disappointed and hurt, Myrtle is not surprised to be forgotten by her family, as she always felt left out and like a bit of an outcast. She is a strong woman who proves she is unforgettable and resilient. I like that she becomes more sure of herself and what she wants. While alone, she has to fend for herself, and I think it changes her, as does her growing relationship with Val. She also realizes some truths about her family and their feelings toward her, and it definitely changes several of the relationships in her life.
Val is a recluse who has given up on life since the death of his beloved wife. Rumors swirl about him, none of them good, and it isn’t until he begrudgingly develops a friendship with Myrtle that Val starts to live again. They have such a wonderful relationship, and I love that Myrtle doesn’t give up on Val no matter how hard he tries to push her away. She is persistent, and she sees past the sullen, angry, and often sharp man to the kind and thoughtful man he is underneath his gruff and hard exterior. She is the first person he lets in, and as their relationship deepens, he learns to live and love again. It’s a fabulous development, and their relationship is filled with great dialogue and banter, as well as some angst chemistry.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Val’s amazing canine companion. He’s big and sweet and loyal, and he’s so smart. He’s also a great protector and is quite heroic in several situations. He develops a strong bond with Myrtle, which is surprising since he hasn’t really connected with anyone other than Val since Val’s wife died. Myrtle has a way about her, though, and animals and people alike are drawn to her.
I also love the inclusion of music and Jane Austen’s books, especially the references to Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen is one of my favorite classic authors, so having her works woven into the story was fantastic. I also love how much music influences the story. At first, Val cannot stand to hear music, especially songs about the holiday season, as that’s when he lost his first wife. However, as he spends more time with Myrtle, he slowly learns to enjoy and appreciate music again. Music has a big part in healing him and showing his journey toward moving forward in life, and I thought it was really well done.
Of course, Myrtle is the main cause of this shift in Val. Her optimism, bubbly personality, constant chatter, and refusal to be daunted by his mysterious, angry, and withdrawn persona softens Val. He begins to resemble the man he was before tragedy changed him. It was lovely to see how the influence of just one person can have such a powerful impact, and their romance is slow-building and based on mutual respect, admiration, and love.
The story addresses difficult topics like death, grief, and guilt, and it’s balanced well with themes of hope, love, and perseverance. I would definitely recommend it to readers looking for a Home Alone-esque Regency romance with an opposites-attract love story. Thanks so much to Montlake for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The romance.
- The character development.
- The inclusion of literature and music.
“What a better life it is when one believes in magic and goodness.”
“In the silence, I’d sit with only my regrets, and the memories of . . . the past would rage in those moments. Until one day, I made myself sit with that silence. I made myself stop and listen through my own tortured thoughts and the quiet, and I discovered there was a peace in that quiet. I came to find it wasn’t something to be feared but embraced for the focus it allowed me.”
“I know that when you have your debut, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of ordinary. Of women who were told to not smile too widely, or laugh too loudly, and who perfectly followed those terrible dictates from cold instructors. And amongst them all, there you will be you, with a smile like sunshine and a spirit not crushed by the constraints society placed upon every other woman, whose light will be so very dim in the bright rays that emanate from you.”
She could travel the globe as the brother she spoke of did and never find a mortal man deserving of her.