Cover Image: The Duke Gets Desperate

The Duke Gets Desperate

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Member Reviews

✨Frisky Business✨

THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. It kind of felt like Mr. and Mrs. Smith chemistry?? I don’t encounter hate banging a lot, but when I do, it’s my favorite. The scenes of them making out and being so angry about it…new kink unlocked.

Whenever a castle is involved, you know the book is going to be good time. She was given his family castle in his stepmother’s Will and he was NOT happy about it. (It was his second time being disinherited—the first was his father leaving the castle to the stepmother.) He owned the grounds surrounding the castle (the parts that made money with tenants and such) and she owned the castle, so they had to work together to make it profitable again. Like I said, they kinda hates each other…but it was so hot. And then they really liked each other, which was even hotter.

Do I think this man who doesn’t have money should be purchasing expensive floral arrangements? Maybe not, but a literal custom bed flowers is HOT change my mind. I loved how he took the time to learn her favorite things (traditional Arab cuisine, purple flowers, etc). Also when she called him her best friend??? Yeah, I’m obsessed with them.

Anthony was also so obsessed. His idea of flirting was either getting her very thoughtful gifts or telling her he couldn’t wait to be inside of her 🫶 The duality of that man!! He also had some very inspired dirty talk. I think he started the book off as a bit of a jerk, but once he was down he was down so bad!! Their chemistry was off the charts, mainly because they wanted each other so damn bad!!

Raya was such a strong heroine throughout the entire book, but my favorite moment was when she stood up to the butler and was like “where did the English alphabet and universities come from, hmm???” She didn’t need Strickland to stand up for her at all, but it was also a nice moment where he supported her with zero hesitation. Quincy’s Arab representation is always so fascinating, and I learn something new without fail.

Overall, while I really adored the main relationship, but there were side characters I didn’t like and a lot of lies/keeping of truths that kept it from being an initial perfect five star read. It set up at least one of the next books in the series, and I’m already beyond excited. I love Quincy’s writing; the wit and humor really made this a delightful Saturday afternoon read.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5 🌶️🌶️🌶️**/5

**The sex scenes and intimate moments really elevated my experience! They were so fun and super hot. The scenes were never that long, but they kept me invested when the castle shenanigans got to be a bit much.

Thanks so much to the publisher via NetGalley for an eARC. All opinions are honest and my own.

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What happens when an Arab-American merchant’s daughter inherits an English castle? The inaugural book in Diana Quincy’s brazen new Sirens in Silk series explores this question.

The Duke Gets Desperate is my first Diana Quincy novel and after reading it I am officially a fan. I can’t wait to read on in this series, not to mention her Clandestine Affairs series! Publication date: September 26, 2023.

At first glance, Anthony Carey, Duke of Strickland, is curmudgeonly and entitled (literally and figuratively). Following his stepmother’s funeral, our hero (who goes by Strick) is pleased to finally inherit his rightful legacy—the family Castle Tremayne. Though his father’s will bestowed him the surrounding estate, the capricious Deena Carey retained the castle. Consequently, Strick is appalled to learn that Deena has not bequeathed him the castle. Worse still—she entrusted the eight-generation Carey family home to her American cousin whom she never even met!

In contrast to Strick, Raya Darwish—the American in question—is loveable from her first introduction. Raya is smart, courageous, and uncowed by ridiculous British nobility and their foreign conventions. Despite being the brains behind Darwish and Company’s success, Raya’s brother pushed her out of the family textile business, encouraging her to marry instead. Recently untethered, Raya and her Aunt Majida have traveled to Yorkshire to meet Raya’s beloved pen-pal cousin Deena—only to arrive and discover Deena died in a tragic accident. Now, Raya owns a musty, old, unprofitable castle. Fed up with relying on men and confident in her proven business acumen, Raya is determined to gain independence by turning Tremayne Castle into a lucrative, self-sustaining operation.

Strick and Raya infuriate each other, each antagonizing the other at every opportunity. Unfortunately (wink), they have no choice but to work together as the castle and its grounds cannot function independently. Worse still, the adversaries cannot ignore the combustible attraction sizzling between them. And wouldn’t things be a lot easier if they just got married… for practical reasons, of course. Not to mention the overarching mystery—who was Deena really and was her death truly accidental?

The Duke Gets Desperate is charming and sharp-witted. This feminist enemies-to-lovers novel confronts various forms of prejudice and offers an exciting update to the traditional Victorian-era British aristocracy romance.

Things I loved:
Raya and Strick’s dynamic. Their enemies-to-lovers energy is impeccable. I love how mean they are to each other; their love language is basically insults. But it is also clear that, even when they hate each other, each genuinely respects the other person. Even when he detests her, Strick stands up for Raya. Wit, humor, and passion define their interactions. As Strick tries to court Raya, readers enjoy episodes of sweet gestures followed by genuine disdain. I loved watching the characters spar verbally.
Strick and Raya are well-matched, fated to forever drive each other mad. Though their loathing is strong, their love is even stronger. Raya and Strick’s relationship is one of equal partners—long-lasting marriage material, not just instalust. Strick offers support when needed but trusts Raya to fight her own battles. At the most critical moment, Strick concedes power not for the sake of manipulating or indebting Raya, but because he wants her to be happy and free.
Strick is hilariously horny at all times. Raya and Strick’s attraction is really well written, and their love scenes are brazen and steamy.

Characters. Especially Raya, Strick, and Aunt Majida. There is also a superbly loathsome villain.
It’s really satisfying watching Raya’s business genius at work, coming up with scheme after scheme. Raya is unstoppable and confident. She doesn’t let polite convention hold her back, she calls out bigotry and injustice.
Despite first impressions, Strick is a very loveable hero. He’s an ass, for sure, but he reveals himself at heart to be ethical, intelligent, nerdy, and passionate.
Aunt Majida is a star. Her acerbic commentary to Raya in Arabic behind everyone’s backs is so enjoyable. She’s wise, funny, and cruel (in a fun way).

Exploring contrasts. Strick and Raya’s relationship is dichotomous, representing legacy and tradition vs. modernity and progress; patriarchy vs. feminism, women’s rights; aristocracy vs. merchant class; end of an era vs. beginning of an era; American vs. British, etc.

Confronting prejudice. Raya experiences discrimination for various reasons (ethnicity, nationality, class, sex); it is openly acknowledged, not glossed over. Readers will witness secondary characters expose their bigotry “behind closed doors” to other white peers. These instances are not gratuitous, but I appreciated that the author created a realistic representation of what a person a person of Raya’s identities would experience in these circumstances. More importantly, Raya, Strick, and Aunt Majida actively confront and tear down the ignorant rhetoric thrown at them. The book also challenges Raya’s assumptions about Strick.

Arab-American representation. This book felt very affectionately written, highlighting Arabic words, foods, and diaspora communities in the 1800s.

Conclusion: 5 stars.
This was my first Diana Quincy novel, and I was excited to start a new historical romance series, especially one featuring an Arab-American heroine. This book was a delight to read and an excellent introduction to this talented, innovative author. Moreover, through this book, I was excited to learn about Quincy’s Clandestine Affairs series, in which all books also feature strong, independent heroines and main characters of Arab descent. The Duke Gets Desperate will appeal to both old school and new generation historical romance readers.

Key Tropes: enemies to lovers; class differences; cultural differences.

Star Criteria:
1: Is the book engaging/enjoyable/entertaining? Yes.
2: Is the book creative? Yes.
3: Does the book offer educational value? Yes--Arabic language, history and culture; Anglo-Saxon history and culture; late 1800s Britain; 1800s Arab-American communities.
4. Does the book highlight voices traditionally underrepresented in literature? Yes--#OwnVoices (Arab-American author writing about Arab-American heroine); main character and a few supporting characters are Arab-American.
5. Does the book challenge existing literary norms and tropes? Yes—unique premise successfully executed.

A sincere thank you to NetGalley, Avon, Harper Voyager, and the author for sharing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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2.75 🌟's.

✨ tropes: enemies to lovers, marriage of convenience, businesswoman heroine, poc/woc rep
🌶 spice: 2.75/5

this was relatively disappointing, primarily bc i found no emotional depth or connection developed between the MC's; the hero was just constantly thinking about having sex with her and the heroine was preoccupied with her castle enterprise 😐 quincy's writing and inclusion of woc are the only two saving factors but other than that, didn't really enjoy my time with this after the first like 30%

also, idk if others found this .. icky... but this white man referring to her as his arab queen was just not doing it for me 🥴

sadness bc i loved quincy's other books but alas, this one was just not for me.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to the publisher Avon for the e-ARC via Netgalley. Releases September 26, 2023!

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Diana Lloyd writes romantic and sweeping historical romances! I enjoy the diversity in her characters. The Duke Gets Desperate doesn't disappoint. Thank you to net galley and the author for allowing me to read and review. Can t wait to continue to read more by this author.

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I’m always excited to read stories of Americans crossing the pond and discovering their future. This book provides a new twist on that trope. Raya is only in England for a visit to a cousin but ends up with an unexpected inheritance that means she’ll be staying. Strick is on the opposite side of the inheritance issue and he’s not happy about it to say the least. To say they clash is a serious understatement but anger and passion can look a lot alike and theirs is a passionate attraction. Nice plot twists throughout the book to keep things interesting and move the story pretty quickly along. I enjoyed this new to me author and would give 5 stars if there was just a few more pages of them as a happy couple. If you like some angst, this will be a favorite!

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Miss Raya Darwish is brilliant in financial matters. Unfortunately for in the 1880's such a skill in women was frowned upon. Women were supposed to be wives and mothers, and manage the household for their husbands. Well, Raya had no interest in a husband. She was the genius behind her families New York linen business until her father died. When her brother took over, he decided she was no longer needed. She had planned a visit to a cousin who married a duke in Yorkshire, England, arriving only to find that her cousin died and left her the castle. Anthony Carey, the present Duke of Strickland had fully expected to inherit the castle as his father promised. Although the castle is deep in debt and not a money maker, Raya sees unconventional ways to have the property make money, much to the chagrin of Anthony. Her ways are just not done in aristocratic England. Of course, Raya and Anthony are at loggerheads with each other, in spite of a mutual attraction. Enter the villain or maybe villains, who want the status quo and the duke to inherit since they are robbing the property blind. Mystery and danger abound for these two especially Raya. A very nice read where there are several possible villains but the true one is not revealed until close to the end.

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3.5/5 stars

I came to Diana Quincy's books through her mystery series, Atlas Catesby, which I adored. I have thoroughly enjoyed her romances thus far as well.

While I really enjoyed the premise of this book, as well as the heroine, I felt the hero fell flat. I think some writers are more known for their heroes and others for their heroines. Quincy is most definitely a heroine writer. She creates fierce and independent women.

Raya is a wonderful, smart, innovative character and I couldn't get enough of her. The way she dealt with racism and snobbery from neighbors and her staff alike was a class act, even if I'd have liked her to lash out for her own sake once or twice.

Anthony had promise as a hero. I didn't feel like his hatred for Deena was adequately resolved though. His prejudice and snobbery was a bit difficult to get past for me. Overall, I just felt like Raya deserved a better hero - duke or not.

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This was such a fun tale. It has a bit of mystery and some great chemistry. Plus it's extra steamy. Anthony was an intriguing duke with some fascinating hobbies. Raya was a strong woman for the period, determined to be in charge of her own destiny. It was fun to see them go head to head in constant disagreements and then give into the passions that erupted. If you like extra hot historical romances, this was a great story.

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“The Duke Gets Desperate” was far more entertaining than I originally expected which isn’t saying much. I love the diversity of the main character, Raya, and her steamy relationship with Anthony. I could feel the sexual tension through the pages, and for the first time in a long time (in a historical read anyways)—the lead heroine was not meek or a pushover, Raya was determined to restore the family castle to its former glory, and strong willed. Normally in historical romances, if not all, the heroines are normally the opposite.

Despite that, the author fumbled the bag with the built up. The main characters were never on the same page besides the lust they have for one another, Anthony lacked depth and I felt like I got to know Raya more as a person with fears, hopes, dreams, desires, etc. then our lover boy. The concept was there but 2/3 through, the pacing didn’t match the rest of the novel and it felt like there was too much back and forth (he said, she said consistent misunderstandings) between the couple.

It wasn’t terrible but the wow factor was definitely not there. Nevertheless, I'm intrigued enough by the author to pick up another of her works so see how it compares.

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American Raya Darwish thinks she's hit the jackpot when she inherits a castle from her glamorous English cousin. Unfortunately for her the castle also comes with the former inhabitants heir, the Duke of Strickland. Anthony (said Duke) is not happy to find that he's been disinherited AND that there is already someone living in HIS castle claiming it's hers. What follows is a pretty classic enemies-to-lovers story, with some added suspense as to how exactly the glamorous English woman died and whether or not Anthony is implicated. I could have done without the mystery bit. It's fine for Anthony to have hated his step-mother (the aforementioned glamorous English lady), without implying he did her in and would do the same to Raya. Ultimately it doesn't play too big a part of the story. Raya and Anthony's initial dislike crackles and the culture clash between an Arab American woman and a stuffy English Duke is really fun. Diana Quincy writes some great heroines and Raya is no exception.

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Clear your calendar and prepared to get sucked in! We meet Raya at her aunt’s funeral when she learns that she inherited castle which should have gone to Strick. Cue the enemies to lovers trope and done in a way without all angst (but all the dirty talking). I loved the take charge Raya, she’s a full developed character who you admire (and who you want to get a drink with). Strick was interesting but just a bit one dimensional (it didn’t stop me from enjoying the book).

If you enjoy enemies to lovers with a dirty talking duke with a side of competence porn, read The Duke Gets Desperate.

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This book is an enjoyable start to a new HR series. There is romance, and mystery as well as evil goings-on. Raya has a head for business and is getting the Estate out of debt by her acumen. Anthony at first doesn't think Raya's ideas are proper to the aristocratic nature of the estate but he is won over by her results. Meanwhile there is someone trying to thwart Raya's efforts. A good read and well written.

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* enemies to lovers, and seriously stubborn ones at that
* strong female lead
* a lot of miscommunication
* mystery

Well written and engaging, I overall enjoyed this series starter despite some parts that didn’t work for me at all.

Raya was a great MFC and I liked her story arc; Anthony, the Duke of Strickland and Raya’s love interest, not as much - he was often a complete ass which did little to endear him to me. The love story between the two, was told more than shown, and I was left wishing that more had been resolved and communicated.

A lot of Strickland’s dialogue and thoughts about Raya were cringey and awkward to an extreme degree and this also did little for me.

The mystery and other plot lines had too soft resolutions and I ultimately finished this wanting more details.

This was my first book by Ms. Quincy.

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*Thank you NetGalley for this ARC!*

In this book, we follow the Duke of Strickland as he finds out that the family estate was left to someone other than himself, an American spinster who has just come to England for a visit.
Immediately, we are introduced to the enemies to lovers aspect of this story and it is done so well. What the Duke doesn't realize is that Raya, who has inherited the castle, is a smart and business savvy woman hell bent on bringing the castle back from financial ruin.

Overall, the development of these characters and plot was done well, but at times I found myself annoyed with the characters more than in love with them. Some character insecurity, some plot predictability, but lots of witty banter! I also enjoyed a lot of the cultural aspects that the author was able to bring into the story as well.

Tropes: enemies to lovers, miscommunication, and strong female lead

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Dear Reader, I LOVED this book. Couldn’t put it down. She inherits a castle he thinks rightfully should be his. Sparks fly instantly to everyone’s benefit. The chemistry is palpable. Diana Quincy remains an automatic buy for me. She did not let me down and I cannot wait for her next story.

Thank you NetGalley and Avon for this ARC.

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The Duke Gets Desperate is a steamy, banter-filled Victorian-era romance with a strong heroine–perfect for fans of Sophie Jordan and Joanna Shupe.

When the Duke of Strickland’s step-mother, dies, he discovers she left his family’s castle to her cousin. Raya Darwish, an Arab-American woman, then arrives and claims her unexpected inheritance. Anthony, the Duke, must oust her, reclaim his ancestral home, repair the financial ruin caused by his father, and not lose his heart along the way.

While this story’s conflict begins with Anthony losing his castle, Raya instantly steals the show. As an Arab-American outside English society, Raya feels little need to put up with the Duke’s pompous and brash behavior. She is an intelligent young woman determined to make her own way, even if that means colliding with a powerful man in a land not her own.

When Raya shows her business acumen and shares plans to move the estate out of insolvency, the Duke is both impressed and horrified that the American upstart is making a mockery of their antiquated ways. But as he agrees to partner with her in the castle business, their life-partner potential becomes unavoidable.

Quincy does an excellent job of crafting a multi-dimensional heroine who is stubborn to a strength. Without Raya’s headstrong ways, Anthony would never reach his goals either. These two characters are better together than apart, and the Duke comes to realize this far faster than Raya herself. That dynamic makes their happily ever after feel like a very satisfying triumph over both external and internal conflict.

Despite some serious plot lines involving racism, sexism, and even murder, The Duke Gets Desperate is witty and charming. Pick this one up for steamy scenes and banter-filled goodness between two characters destined to end up together when they finally get out of their own way.

Tropes: Fish out of Water, Enemies to Lovers, Diverse Heroine, Victorian-era
Spice Level: 2/5, open door

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This is not a typical historical fiction books. I went into this without reading the summary and was delighted by Raya Darwish, a fierce heroine visiting a cousin in England who finds out that her cousin has died and left her a castle. Raya is a natural business woman, so when she find out the castle is in dire financial straits, she shocks locals, including the step-son of her cousin, who thought he'd inherit the castle when he assumed his father's title. Aside from the storyline about saving the castle, there's a mystery around how Raya's cousin died and whether someone is trying to kill Raya as well. Some heirlooms have gone missing, too. There's a lot going on here, but the main storyline is about Raya and the Duke, Anthony, who loathe each other, but are also attracted to one another.

I love the moment when an enemies to lovers story flips. I can't pinpoint when it happens in The Duke Gets Desperate, as our main characters are on different pages for almost all of this book. You know your "Happily Ever After" is coming, but when? Even as their physical relationship takes off, they're still at odds.

The moment when the relationship becomes physical is a little abrupt, but Anthony has a devil-may-care attitude and doesn't hesitate to pursue Raya aggressively (and use language she clearly isn't used to). He's definitely not as likeable as Raya here and I wanted there to be a little more groveling when Raya's ideas for making the caste generate some income started working.

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I absolutely adored this book. It's absolutely flawlessly executed enemies-to-love with everything that makes that trope fun (the banter, the tug-of-war-I-hate-you-but-I want-you, the explosive attraction, and the growing understanding that makes the relationship make sense, all like seriously done perfectly) plus a mystery element, and interesting, real and human characters, with real issues to solve and creative, but not too easy ways of solving them.

As I said, Raya and Strick are prefect together. He is a duke. His father left the castle to his stepmother, Deena, and American woman, after his death. Deena and Strick didn't get along at all so he ended up kicked out of his childhood home and living in a cottage he owns on the property. Deena has now died, and instead of the castle going back to Strick, it has seemingly been left to Raya, Deena's cousin for New York City.

Raya, who arrives in England, a county she doesn't know at all, with her very fabulous aunt as her only confidant and ally, is at a bit of a crossroads herself. After her father's death, her brother, supported by their mother, all but banished her from the family business she loved and made extremely successful. Deena is shocked by the turn of the events with the castle, and slightly dismayed to find out its in disrepair and is losing money. She's willing to sell it to Strick but he doesn't have the capital. She sets out to make it into a money-making enterprise and he sets out to make some money of his own.

Along the way they each discover quite a few things about each other, how brilliant Raya is and how curious and thoughtful Strick can be and the attraction, despite being often at cross-purposes is undeniable. More over the two really learn to see and talk to each other (though quite a few mistakes are made along the way, that they grow from). That's before the two are caught in an accidental compromising position, a marriage of "in" convenience seems in the card, but there are still quite a few obstacles to come (despite some very successful business ventures and VERY hot love-making), and watching the two ultimately have a hard fought HEA and solve a mystery true is just wonderful.

You seriously can't put this book down. Also it has like my favorite cover ever. Little me would have stared at Raya and that amazing stress for like days. Seriously, everyone has to read and preorder this.

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Diana Quincy’s latest book, The Duke Gets Desperate, was good, but I found myself wanting more from it since I really loved Her Night with the Duke, and I feel like her books after it have been struggling to reach that level.

That said, I really appreciated that the conflicts in this book were legitimate instead of being contrived, which I can’t say for all romance novels. That said, and this is going to sound odd, I feel like there was too little interpersonal conflict and it feels like a lot of the conflict was externalized in a way that I personally don’t find super appealing in romance novels.

Regarding the characterization, I found Raya a much more gripping character than Anthony, which isn’t abnormal per se, but I feel like Quincy could have done a lot more with his characterization beyond what she did. After reading the book, I didn’t come away with any real opinions about his character except “loves Raya.”

That said, Diana Quincy is an excellent author so even a less than perfect novel from her is much better than most other authors.

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First things first.

It is impossible for Diana Quincy to write a bad book. All of her books are top notch, and the Duke Gets Desperate is not an exception. Also, you will always love her hero and heroine. Even when there are misunderstandings and miscommunication, you still love them and want them to get together.

In this book, Raya and Strick are forced into each other’s path when Raya inherits Strick’s family castle. It’s all he’s ever wanted. Until he meets this gorgeous Arab American woman who takes no crap. Diana Quincy’s books often include smart, strong characters of color, something that will always bring me back to her writing. And her portrayal of these characters, even in a historical perspective, is realistic (for instance, when Strick’s sister asks how dark she is—that’s definitely something someone of the ton would have asked). Her characters are always three-dimensional and real.

Oh, and there’s a mystery as well! What happened to the Dowager Duchess? Who is really a friend and who has ulterior motives?

All of her books have spice, and this one is moderately spicy (however, I’m comparing this to Her Night with the Duke—my favorite book of hers—where they get busy, in detail, very early on in the book). The dirty talk is a fun addition—especially since she finds out it turns her on. The steam is good though, so don’t let that stop you.

Folks who read my blog will know that miscommunication ticks me off—many books drag on and on with misunderstandings that could be easily rectified by TALKING to the other person (usually, I’m thinking, c’mon, he’s your soul mate, you can’t just ask him what happened?). There are misunderstandings here, but DQ makes them interesting and unusual. For the first time in my reviewing career, I have to admit that there are some great uses of miscommunication, and it’s because Diana Quincy is a master at making what could be a tedious trope fun and interesting!

So we know that DQ likes trilogies, so I am interested in what’s to come, particularly since these will possibly focus on his best friends, Guy and Hawk. Something happened to Hawk in Philadelphia and I WANT TO KNOW.

Anyway, this is a solid 4-1/2 star read, rounded up to a NetGalley 5. I never got bored or tried to skip ahead. As others have noted, I would have liked an epilogue, but it may be included with the final version (which I am preordering) or perhaps we will see more of them in the next two books.

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