cover image The Duke: A Devil’s Duke Novel

The Duke: A Devil’s Duke Novel

Katharine Ashe. Avon, $7.99 mass market (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-264172-4

Ashe’s enjoyable third Devil’s Duke novel (after The Pirate and I) features two bold adventurers: Gabriel Hume, a captain in the British Royal Navy and second son of a duke, and Lady Amarantha Vale, daughter of an earl. Believing herself in love, Amarantha follows her fiancé, Rev. Paul Garland, a condescending missionary, to Jamaica. There, a hurricane traps her for a night in a cellar with Gabriel, who begins courting her. Later, mistakenly believing Gabriel perished at sea, Amarantha commits to an unsatisfactory marriage with Paul, but within five years he’s died and she returns to Scotland a widow. Once reunited, Gabriel and Amarantha engage in spirited banter, each keeping secrets and resisting the other, while the spark between them reignites, culminating in passionate and playful sex scenes. The novel adroitly addresses social justice issues of the time: Gabriel, now a reclusive, feared duke, secretly shelters abused (and highly independent, self-governing) women on one of his estates, while Amarantha helps her Jamaican friend Tabitha write a memoir about fleeing the threat of slavery. Subplots include the development of romances between two appealing interracial couples. Likable lovers, witty dialogue, intriguing supporting characters, and a zippy pace result in a lively page-turner. (Oct.)