A Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides #9) by Valerie Bowman
Synopsis: General Mark Grimaldi is devoted to his service for the Crown, risking his life and giving up everything for his career. The political promotion he’s always wanted is now within his reach, but he needs to convince his estranged wife to return to England and play the role of happy bride in order for him to get the position.
Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent the past ten years in France, not having seen her husband since she left England. But now he’s on her doorstep, asking her to return with him, and Nicole sees the opportunity to get something out of this deal. So she agrees, on one condition: she wants a baby.
A Duke Like No Other is a Regency spy caper with Valerie Bowman at her best as husband and wife match wits and may just fall in love in the process.
Review: Their story was enjoyable, some of the flashbacks were great, others seemed to slow the rhythm of the plot down a bit. I liked seeing glimpses of their past, especially of the fight that led to their break, but I wanted more interaction between them once they were back together and trying to solve the murder. I wanted to see more of them opening up, confiding, and kind of getting to know each other again. I think they both were so stubborn that their characters got in the way of rebuilding the relationship on the page. They were so stubborn it worked against the character development. I liked it overall, just needed a bit more soul-searching and clearing the air kind of conversations so that the ending became more believable rather than one second they aren’t saying what they need to say and the next he is ‘I’m an idiot please stay.’ I really wanted to see them have that kind of conversation, prior to the conclusion at the docks, in order for me to believe that the reconciliation was real. It was almost like nothing was really resolved. Yes, he finally opened up to her and told her what he wanted and felt, but what about his doubts about her supposedly knowing all along about his family. We at least had him express why he was upset with her working with the Bow Street Runners, but not the rest of issues they had ten years ago. I needed him to realize that she hadn’t known and the reason she never confronted him was because she was waiting for him to trust her, which is very similar to his reasons for not confronting her about already knowing about the Bow Street Runners. I wanted Oakleaf to come out and tell him he was the one who told her and why and how it all came about. But that is a very small part of the story and overall I did enjoy their reconciliation and the working together to solve a murder. I am looking forward to Regina and Oakleaf’s story next.