Cover Image: The Duchess Hunt

The Duchess Hunt

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The Duke of Kingsland has asked his secretary, Penelope, to help him find a duchess. Which is annoying, because she's been in love with him for eight years. Ever the faithful employee, she takes to the task diligently. 

As Kingsland gradually realizes that Pen is a beautiful and desirable woman, their relationship takes on a new dimension. And when secrets from their past create a threat in the present, Kingsland vows that they'll face it together. But does Pen dare allow him to learn the truth about her? 

These characters are so compelling, especially Penelope. You can't help admiring her strength and decency. She's incredibly self-aware, and prepared to make a new future for herself if Kingsland marries another. King, meanwhile, is one of those heroes you want to hit over the head for not recognizing that the woman he needs is right in front of him. But he's got good reason for his aloofness. The secret he carries is darker than I expected. These are deeply wounded characters who never feel sorry for themselves and richly deserve their HEA. 

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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A great historical romance that held my attention throughout.  The pining and trope of unrequited love was so well done here...of course since it is a romance love is eventually requited!
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Secretaries don’t come much better than Penelope Pettypeace. In fact she is such an excellent secretary that her employer of eight years, the Duke of Kingston, has given Pettypeace the task of choosing the woman who will become his Duchess.
Not such an easy task because Kingston has placed an ad in the paper asking for applicants to write a letter of why they should be his Duchess. In The Duchess Hunt Pettypeace’s job is to sort through the very large number of applicants and chose the best one to fit “the job”. Kingston’s definition of the job is to “be a quiet duchess, one who is there when I need her and absent when I don’t.”
Pettypeace is an unusual secretary. Number one- she is still a rarity in Victorian times-she is a woman with a respectable job. Number two- she seems to have invented the spreadsheet. (Sorry couldn’t resist)
One way in which she is not a total rarity- although she is the epitome of a resourceful and efficient secretary- is that that she has fallen in love with her boss. Oddly enough Kingston seems to be falling in love with Pettypeace but of course won’t admit to it for some fairly typical HR reasons. For one he refuses to believe he is capable of love, two that he is a somewhat snobbish duke. He is lacking in self-awareness, mostly because he and his brother suffered tremendous abuse at the hands of their father.
So here we are at the real meat of the book, the reason that made this a true HR standout. First let me give you one of the best quotes of the year “….That is the things about monsters, Pettypeace. They are monsters because they can delude people into thinking they aren’t.”
Then we come to their secrets. Both the Duke and Pettypeace have secrets that are real doozies. Here’s what kills me. One secret can lead to execution; the other secret can lead to becoming a pariah. Three guesses to whose secret caused the most angst and anger. Buzzz and give a stuffed animal for the little lady who answered correctly.
Heath almost always writes charming and appealing characters. Neither Kingston nor Pettypeace are without friends, another hallmark of a Heath book, strong friendships.
I also enjoy books set in Victorian times, Heath presents a vibrant and lively portrait of the times and settings.
Heath’s series tend to run from intriguing secondary characters to the next series. So it’s a fun guessing game, which character will have the next book or the next series. I think it might be Marcus with hopefully the Chessman to follow.
One more thing, The Duchess Hunt has one of the sweetest endings I have read in years. Brava!
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC for review purposes. (less)
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One word:  YEARNING.  Oh, Lorraine.  The yearning just leaps off the page as these two people who think they can't have each other pine and bond and get closer... I read this in one afternoon and it was a satisfying read that had me tearing up by the end.
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Great pacing, believable chemistry, and an engaging story that I couldn’t put down. Not necessary to read the previous book in the series to understand the plot, and for that, I was thankful!
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Trope:different class/second chance/rags to riches

This is book #2 to the series Once Upon A Dukedom but can be read as a standalone. 

This book was a winner for me! I love seeing two people of different backgrounds and station come together as one. I especially enjoyed Penelope's character. She's intelligent, kind, passionate, but most importantly she's a survivor and can stand on her own.  Hugh's character  is also very likable too.  What I loved about him is that he's a considerate man and a fair person. He believes a woman is just as capable as a man. Hence that's how he meets Penelope, and how she became his secretary. She was not what he advertised for but she convinced him and he gave her a chance. They both have secrets of their own and surely it starts to comeback and hunt them. Together they work as a team and is there for eachother. 

Penelope has been secretly in love with Hugh for the longest. She knew she loved him without a doubt but kept her relationship with him very professional. She also felt she had no chance because he was her employ, and she viewed herself as a staff member. 

Story starts off with Hugh feeling he's getting older. He needs to settle down and procure a heir.  Therefore he sets up a task for Penelope to find him a duchess. Also he expects her to choose the right woman.  Anyhow That's how their love story began.  Soon enough he realizes how attracted he is to her, and how much she means to him....

Their love story was well written and focused. There's cute banther between the characters, sexy, and well worth the read.
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Lorraine Heath is a master of emotional and tension-filled romances that always provide a satisfying end. The Duchess Hunt includes a heroine with a mysterious past and it was so hard not to flip ahead to find out more about her story. This book was the perfect addition to Heath's latest series and provided such a nice escape.
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This was a difficult book to review. The best part of this book was the last third. The beginning through then was BORING. However, like I said things really got good when things started to actually happen to the characters. Before it was all dull dialogue and the characters walking around each other like newbies to lust, desire, attraction and love. I thought it felt a little ridiculous that the main characters were in there late 20's and early 30's. Yet they somehow managed to act like young adults just hitting 20. But getting back to the last third of the book. WOW!!! I was really impressed. Both had really dark secrets. I would never have been able to guess. Their secrets were unpredictable and original. The author was extremely creative and realistic. I did feel bad for both of them that they had to suffer. But when all was out in the open between them it was a much lighter burden to carry. I loved how the main male character started treating his younger brother better and gave him direction in life. The epilogue was wonderful. It amazed me that the lead female character's secret carried on way into the future that the future generations continued to do everything they could to keep the secret. It was that profound. An amazing finish.
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Loved loved loved this story. Strong heroine, great love story with a fabulous build up. Kept me turning the pages longer into the night than was wise for getting up the next morning but we’ll worth it. Lorraine Heath fans won’t be disappointed, newcomers will have found a new to them must read author.
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I have read about a Duke falling in love with the governess in the past but have yet to read a historical that involves a secretary...until now.  I found I quite enjoyed this one.  Hugh, Duke of Kingsland, is coming off a fail in trying to find a Duchess when the woman he chooses, picks someone else.  Having lost confidence in his ability to find someone, he turns to the person he trusts most to help him.  Penelope has been Hugh's secretary for 8 years and has secretly loved him the entire time.  While she knows that it will hurt to find Hugh a Duchess, she has yet to turn down a request for help from him and so sets out to find the perfect match.

I really liked Penelope.  She is strong and independent.  I loved that she worked her way into a predominantly male environment and holds her own, garnering respect from those she works with.  She is a professional through and through.  Hugh is a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed the way he cares for those he loves and the easy camaraderie he has with Penelope.  Their friendship is easy and it's completely believable how they never really approached the idea of them with one another.  There is never a point that feels unbalanced, despite his rank and their working relationship.  The chemistry is great and their backstories original instead of easy to guess. 

This is a fast read and a well-written book.  I'm really enjoying this series by Heath.  I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of a friends-to-lovers romance.
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To say I enjoyed this story would be an understatement.  This book is about The Duke of Kingsland, who is also called Hugh and King.  Hugh thought it was time for him to marry, so he decided to advertise for a Wife.  He tried this once before but the woman he picked left him, so this time he decides to have his secretary pick him the perfect wife.  Penelope Pettypeace was Hugh’s secretary and secretly in love with him, but because of her past she thinks there is no future for her with the Duke but decides she will find him the perfect wife.  The attraction between the Duke and Penelope was strong and it was wonderful reading about the Duke falling in love, when he thought he would never love.  I did not want to put this book down.  I would like to read about the other Chessmen and Hugh’s brother.
I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest opinion.
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5 Stars — loved this story and watching Hugh realize his perfect Duchess was right in front of him. Cannot wait for the next books!!

Full RTC
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The Duchess Hunt features a hero who considers himself heartless and a heroine who has had to do whatever she had to do to survive. The hero, the Duke of Kingsley, went against the norm and hired himself a female secretary years ago. He has respect for her opinions so much so that he has commissioned her to find a wife for him. Penelope, his secretary, will do whatever she can to ensure his happiness, even if it means finding him the ideal wife who isn't herself. What wasn't expected by either party is the Duke's shift from seeing Penelope as Pettypeace, his stalwart secretary, to Penelope, the woman he desires and cannot live without. 

Lorraine Heath is a brilliant writer and it certainly shows in this book. Both characters are perfectly crafted because they're flawed in very realistic ways. Kingsley (Hugh) has a tragic backstory that well explains his emotional numbness and provides a great frame for why he acts as he does and makes the decisions he does. Penelope's backstory is just as well-crafted and her "secret" isn't as easily guessed as the heroines of other stories with similar tropes. In fact, it had me thinking deeply about a controversial topic and seeing it from a different light. I have to be honest, the last few chapters of this book had me in tears, it was that will-written. I can't say enough good things about this story and would highly recommend it to anyone. 

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. This ARC did not influence my review in any way.
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I had a lot of fun readying The Duchess Hunt- to me it felt like a regency equivalent of a modern day “bang the boss”. I liked how Lorraine makes you feel really invested in Penelope Pettypeace who is the secretary to Duke Kingsland. She really tried to set boundaries- but in the end who can resist the smoldering boss?

Pettypeace was also charged with also finding a new Duchess for Kingsland. I loved the bachelorette feel of the book where Pettypeace went interviewing all the candidates. I also felt for the lovely recluse who wanted to write novels and be left alone- made me feel like the world was sorta plausible because not everyone was searching for a husband.

 I loved the twists and turns- especially Pettypeace and and Kingsland past. Great surprises, did not see either of those coming. I was left intrigued. I read this under 24 hours! Definitely would recommend if you also like a little drama and suspense with your romance.

I’m sorta sad we didn’t get to see more of Knight, whom is apart of Kingsland’s man squad. He was super sexy and I sorta wished Pettypeace paid more attention to him. I hope we get a spin-off for him! I would rate this a 4 out of 5. This Netgalley ARC was provided to me in exchange for a fair review. Definitely would purchase for my library!
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I probably shouldn’t have liked this book as much as I did because the whole storyline is slightly disturbing. But what can I say? I like a little darkness twisted into a HEA...makes it seem more believable somehow. 

The reason I ultimately gave this book 4 stars versus 5 was because of the books hero Kingsland. Let’s just say he has NO self-awareness and it was driving my disgust meter up every time we got his POV. There is a scene where he is clearly having a moment with Pettypeace and then deserts her to head over to his mistresses. Um no, sir. Not okay. And then the ending…he almost didn’t come out with his secret to Pettypeace. He was basically put in the situation of having to confide in her. Then he becomes angered when he discovers she has kept her past secrets close to the chest and didn’t confide in him? I can understand him being upset but what pushed me over the edge was how unsupportive and judgmental he acted towards her. Again, um no, sir. Not okay. 

What made this book for me was the fantastic writing, creative storyline and the heroine- I just loved Penelope. I love a character that doesn’t let life's challenges impact them, she rose above and got everything she deserved in the end.

SIDE NOTE: Where has Lorraine Heath been my whole life?1? I remember reading and loving Waking Up With the Duke… but somehow Heath fell off my radar. I fully intend to seek out all of her books and read them. I will definitely be reading book 1 of this series as soon as possible!
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I did enjoy Penelope and Hugh in this book however, it took forever for the romance to start. Penelope has been the Duke of Kingsland's secretary for 8 years so they have an established relationship. Much of the beginning of the book showed this and it took a while for them to get together as a couple. It wasn't so much a slow burn as just slow.

Both MC's had secrets. Hugh's was really big but Penelope took it in stride and not much was made of it. Penelope's secret wasn't as big a deal but Hugh could not take it and lashed out at her. I thought his reaction was over the top especially as he was planning to marry someone else and their affair was just an affair.

I did love the epilogue and that was what moved this from a 3 -star to a 4 -star review.
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I enjoyed this more than the previous book. For the first half it was pretty much perfect. I loved Kingsland and Pettypeace's working relationship and their repressed and unacknowledged feelings for one another. I loved how he valued her as his secretary more highly than he would most men. I loved his relationships with his mother and brother. I was ready to give it a glowing 5 star review.

Then... I got to the sex scenes around the 50% mark. And... they made me cringe. They weren't written nearly as well as the rest of the book and they went on for far too long. Now, keep in mind that I'm very picky about sex scenes (honestly I prefer a fade-to-black 99% of the time) and they are usually where my criticisms for a book can be found. But. Some are definitely worse than others. At this point I adjusted my mental rating to 2 stars. Maybe 3.

And then it got good again. Hence the 4. But there are definitely aspects that are well worth 5 stars.

Penelope Pettypeace is as clever and determined and brave as any character I've come across and I love her. She deserves all the good things and I love how her secret from her past is resolved. The Duke of Kingsland genuinely cares for people and I love how when he discovers Pettypeace's tiny room in the servants quarters with its hard chair he 1) gives her a much better chamber (coincidentally near his own) and 2) buys all the servants plush wingback chairs to replace the hard wooden ones. He's a good man. He's done some not-so-good things (for good reasons), and he's convinced he doesn't have a heart, but he cares.

There was a good bit of angst for poor Pettypeace, tasked with choosing his bride when she secretly loves him, but it's not overly much and I love how she sets about it.

Overall it's a fun, enjoyable read and I recommend it, for the first half and last quarter if nothing else.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Avon & Harper Voyager for providing an e-arc for review.
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As always I enjoy Lorraine Heaths books and that includes this book. I liked the story based on Hugh who projects coldness and Pettypeace who is his  very efficient secretary. I liked the vulnerability of both of them and the love that can save both of them. The book can be a little slow in spots but overall it’s a good book.
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The Duchess Hunt was a fun and relatively fast-paced read, another excellent addition to a series I love!

Pettypeace (Penelope) and Kingsland (Hugh) are characters easy to love for their intelligence and determination, but Kingsland you want to smack upside the head for being so obtuse when it comes to Penelope. She's been in love with him more or less her entire years-long tenure as his Secretary, yet she remained determined to focus all of her energy on being indispensible to him as his employee, never letting it get in the way of her work.

We discover they both have at least one BIG SECRET of varying gravity, and each is eventually outed with very different results. You can't help but empathize with them over the reasons for those secrets since the author revealed them in their own ways,  equally as compelling.

I couldn't put this one down! 

Thank you Avon Books, Harper Collins Publishing, and Lorraine Heath for the ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I enjoyed the book overall (I had not read a Lorraine Heath book in several years, but I will need to get back into her work). The book (especially the first half to two-thirds) was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the heroine's competence and the hero's recognition of it very much. I also tend to enjoy when the characters are obviously in love and everyone knows it but them. I did find the treatment of their secrets a bit odd - she often worries about hers and his barely rates a mention before the reveal when his is a way bigger deal than hers (scandal versus actual crime, however justified), so the pacing seemed odd, in my opinion. The end was a bit of a letdown, however - I was disappointed in how the hero reacted to her secret. She reacted with kindness and empathy to his secret and he reacted with judgement to hers even though he already knew her family was in dire financial straits in the past. I assume this was to set up the separation/conflict at the end of the book, but I would have preferred him to be a better person than that.
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