cover image The Duke in Question

The Duke in Question

Amalie Howard. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $8.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-72826-263-5

With this spirited Victorian romance, a loose sequel to 2021’s Rules for Heiresses, Howard constructs a vibrant, witty adventure whose undercover leads enjoy sizzling chemistry under the covers. Retired spymaster Valentine Medford, Duke of Thornbury, is called back into service to track down the mysterious Kestrel—not realizing the “rogue operative” is hiding in plain sight. It’s Lady Bronwyn Chase, sister to the Duke of Ashvale, who’s determined to use her privilege to help the oppressed and disenfranchised. As she sets sail to Philadelphia bearing secret documents to aid the North in the U.S. Civil War, she’s distressed to encounter Valentine aboard the same ship. She’s so eager to allay suspicion that Valentine comes away from their first interaction thinking her an “avaricious nitwit.” Even so, there’s an undeniable mutual attraction that only grows as their travels take them to America and back to Europe. Caught in a web of intrigue and desire, Valentine and Bronwyn become reluctant partners in espionage—and rather less reluctant lovers—as they plunge into ever deeper danger. Howard touches upon the social inequalities and marginalization of the time, adding nuance and depth to this witty, suspenseful romance. By turns playful and tense, it’s a thoroughly entertaining romp. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Nov.)