cover image What the Duke Doesn’t Know

What the Duke Doesn’t Know

Jane Ashford. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-4926-2159-1

Ashford’s delightful second venture into the social lives of the six sons of the Duke of Langford (after Heir to the Duke) pokes gentle fun at British society stuffiness in a story that pits propriety against authenticity, passion, and personality. Lord James Gresham, at loose ends after the Royal Navy ship on which he served is decommissioned, is surprised by the pistol-wielding, revenge-seeking Kawena Benson, the half–Pacific Islander daughter of an English trader seeking to avenge her father’s death. After James convinces her of his innocence, she asks him to help with her search for the robber whose theft of her father’s jewels led to his fatal heart attack, and a comedy of awkwardness, misunderstandings, and manners ensues. James realizes his joking request to his sister-in-law to find him a proper bride is at odds with his appreciation of Kawena’s outsider perspective and her island-learned freedom to ask for what she wants. The story resonates with the humor of English seafaring comedy such as The Pirates of Penzance while calling out narrow-minded exoticism in a fashion that has modern appeal. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary. (Sept.)