The Dastardly Duke by Eileen Putman
Publication Date: December 1st 2015
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Tormented by a dark secret, Julian LeFevre, Duke of Claridge, is a notorious and dissolute rake. His half-hearted attempt to reform his character has left him bored to death. To relieve the tedium, he wagers a friend that he can mold any pretty trollop from the London streets into a lady who'll pass muster with the ton.
But Hannah Gregory is no biddable lump of clay. She has solemn gray eyes, a rebellious streak -- and is deaf from a long-ago accident. And although she conceals her real past, she can't disguise her attraction to the scoundrel who offers her a small fortune that could pay for a new medical treatment.
The charade might heal her, but it also might break her heart -- if Hannah forgets that this dark and dangerous duke is well past the point of redemption.
Julian is bored. He’s trying to reform after being a rake but it’s hard! insert whine On his deathbed, Julian’s father inferred that Julian was bastard born and now Julian is trying to find proof. His friend Charles tries to tell him that it doesn’t matter and that he acts and dresses like a duke so just be a duke. Julian scoffs because he thinks that anyone can put one over on the ladies of Almack’s but deep down he just doesn’t know what to think about his birth. Charles suggests a bet. Charles will pick a street wench for Julian and Julian will turn her into “a paragon of respectability.” Charles wants to marry Julian’s half-sister, Lucy, so he bets that if Julian can’t do it then he will have permission to marry Lucy (even though she’s turned him down 3 times) and if Julian wins he will get a pair of matched bays. Julian doesn’t really care about the horses but the excitement of it all since he’s so bored.
Charles takes Julian to The Lock Hospital. This is a place where they take prostitutes when they get sick (usually from syphilis) and were treated. If they couldn’t get better they stayed forever. Julian’s not too happy about finding a woman there but it’s Charles job to find the woman. They end up being introduced to Hannah Gregory. Once Julian hears that she’s deaf he turns her away as the woman but her spiritedness attracts his notice and soon they’re off.
Hannah is actually the niece of an earl. Her father was the second son of an earl who took his own life and then her mother followed in death soon afterward. She was then taken in by the earl but after she lost her hearing at age 17 they kicked her out of the house. Because of this she speaks well and has pretty decent table manners.
When they finally get back to London Hannah is introduced to society and she becomes the success that Julian had hoped. He finds himself, however, more intrigued by Hannah every day and wants her more and more. He has an issue with starting a relationship with Hannah if he can’t figure out if he’s actually a duke or a bastard. Hannah has found herself falling in love with Julian as well but doesn’t want to weigh him down with her deafness forever. Between the two they have pretty hard decisions ahead of them.
This was a great story. I thought that it was going to be another Pygmalion but with a deaf woman but it was so much better than that.
Julian was a bit of a hot-head and he came off as arrogant and rude at times (at first) but he grew so much during the book it was hard to recognize him as the same man by the end. I really enjoyed his journey. Hannah was obsessed with a doctor who supposedly could cure her hearing loss and took the position with Julian in exchange for 500 pounds so that she could pay the good doctor to cure her. I understood her frustration – especially as she was a musician – but when the doctor described his treatments I couldn’t understand how she didn’t cringe and slink away. They were horrifying! I was so happy that the couple could accept each other no matter what. It was a good romance and was told quite well.
Overall a really great story. There was also a (very small) romance that involved Lucy and yet another involving Julian’s aunt as well. It was a fun, witty and touching romance that I enjoyed and would definitely recommend.
Rating: 4 out of 5