cover image When the Duke Was Wicked

When the Duke Was Wicked

Lorraine Heath. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-227622-3

Heath launches a series spun off from her Scoundrels of St. James historicals, which featured noble ladies marrying lowlife rogues. Henry Sidney Stanford, the seventh Duke of Lovingdon and eldest son of the heroine of 2009’s Between the Devil and Desire, commits to dissipation after the deaths of his wife and daughter. His childhood neighbor, Lady Grace Mabry, is embarking on her second Season and wants his guidance as she entertains suitors. Henry is determined to avoid polite Victorian London, but the fearless redheaded Grace has no qualms about knocking unannounced on his bedroom door—or the door of his favorite gaming hell—to request his assistance. Predictability ensues. Heath follows formula with a minimum of period detail or plausibility, particularly with regard to medical matters, and a maximum of swooping dialogue about Grace’s “situation most dire” and the hilariously named villain, Lord Vexley. Agent: Robin Rue, Writers House. (Feb.)