The Duke Gets Desperate

A Novel

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Pub Date 26 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 21 Nov 2023

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Diana Quincy returns with a steamy affair between an Arab-American woman who inherits a run-down castle in the English countryside and the duke who asserts the castle is his, in the first book in a brand-new Victorian historical romance series.

Anthony Cary, Duke of Strickland, inherits his spendthrift father’s title and can finally restore the family castle to its former glory. But at the reading of the will, Strick is stunned to learn that his father has secretly disentailed him, leaving the family manor—home to twelve generations of dukes—to Strick’s American stepmother. Everyone knows Strick detests the dowager duchess, and when she dies mysteriously, damning rumors start to surface. 

When Raya Darwish unexpectedly inherits her glamorous late cousin’s castle in the English countryside, she clashes with the charismatic young duke who insists the castle is rightfully his. The estate is practically bankrupt, so she must find a way to work with the duke in order to save both of their futures.

The two cannot stand each other, but mutual disdain soon gives way to desire. When questions arise about how her cousin died, Raya cannot help wondering if Strick’s sudden unbridled passion for her is part of a scheme to get his castle back...  

Diana Quincy returns with a steamy affair between an Arab-American woman who inherits a run-down castle in the English countryside and the duke who asserts the castle is his, in the first book in a...

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Average rating from 124 members

Featured Reviews

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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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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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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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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Librarian review: I would absolutely recommend this book through reader's advisory and for purchase. Romance is always a popular genre, and the desire for more diversity in romance is always there. Quincy does an excellent job of making space in the historical romance genre for people often erased, or at least not highlighted, in popular titles.

Reader review:
I am obsessed with Diana Quincy's historical romances featuring a British Arab family and now an Arab-American family. The women she writes are strong working women who value their families and culture, but also actively strike their own path. I. Love. Them. 10/10.

Raya was an amazing heroine and easy to root for. She is resourceful and relentless in her quest for independence. She is proud of her Palestinian identity, and isn't afraid to call people out when they try to denigrate her for it. (As a 21st century woman, I would have loved to see her shut people down a little harder, but I understand why in this context she would choose to be more diplomatic when possible.)

Strick on their other hand was meh. He was fine, I guess. I wasn't rooting for him in the same way I was Raya. He was often a jerk, especially his villainization of Deena. To be honest, compared to how he treated Raya, it did feel out of character, and I don't feel it was truly resolved in the conclusion of the story. I would have liked to see him come to terms with his treatment of Deena and a more realistic view of who she was--and the fact that it didn't happen made me as a reader assume at least some of his claims were supposed to be correct, which could be the author's intention. I also found a lot of his dialogue and inner monologue that was supposed to be hot/sexy really cringe. It's a no for me. His character would have been greatly improved, I think, if he had a greater redemption arc. Though I do love that he was a simp.

Plot-wise, I adored the first half of the book. Quincy's writing is fantastic, and she set the story up well. Unfortunately, though it wasn't bad, the second half felt like a bit of a let down. The tension and obstacles felt contrived and it was easy to guess what would happen next. In some ways it felt like throwing everything at the wall and seeing what would stick. The story would have been much better, for me as a reader, if Quincy picked one source of antagonism to their future and stuck with it. It was good, but it could have been great, and that was disappointing.

Finally, I think there should have been an epilogue. Maybe there will be in the final version, just not the ARC, but I think I needed a little more conclusion to their story, and I would have liked a set up for the sequel.

There's very little diversity in Regency, Edwardian, and Victorian romances, though fortunately for readers that is changing. In recent years I have enjoyed Quincy's Arab heroines, Courtney Milan's Asian lead characters, and the first book in Liana De la Rosa's new series about a Spanish/Mexican woman and a Black/Scottish man. I hope they keep coming and I can't wait to read the rest of this new series--which I assume will continue with a sequel about Hawk and Naila? We'll see.

My favorite Diana Quincy book is still The Viscount Made Me Do It, which, despite its strange and ill-chosen title, is one of my favorite historical romances of all time. Though overall, I sincerely enjoyed this one and will be purchasing it when it is released.

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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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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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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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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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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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I absolutely loved this novel. Diana Quincy is a Queen of the Historical Romance. One of my favorite books of the year.

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This is getting a generous 4 star rating because man was it hot.

I enjoyed the dynamic between the MCs and lived for their hate banter and hate kissing. When Anthony fell, so did I. I didn't expect him to be such a good hero at the start, but I loved how attracted he was to Raya and how he appreciated her business acumen and supported her dreams. I mean this man planted wildflower fields for her and just wanted to give her orgasms and let her run a castle enterprise.

Raya was definitely an interesting character. I loved her no nonsense and hard work attitude. I appreciated that when she was upset it was legitimate and the conflicts didn't get drug out too long and they actually would have productive conversations about their feelings.

Overall there were so many fun little interactions and the banter just made this for me. The mystery subplot was fine, nothing crazy. The romance was the real shine here.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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This was a great historical romance! It had a blend of familiar, beloved tropes such as enemies to lovers, but also included unique elements to the story such as Raya’s work as a businesswoman, the rare occurrence of her inheriting and English castle, and the work she did to make it a profitable enterprise. Anthony, the duke, reminded me of King/Farmer George from Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte in that he was interested in his own work and passions other than his duties as a duke. The business aspect of the story overall helped to add a layer to Raya and Anthony’s love story because they had to work out things such as trust, judgement, and ownership/balance in their relationship as represented through the castle and the business that Raya builds around it.

It was also wonderful to read of Raya’s Arab-American background, especially contextualized in a late-1800’s historical setting. Raya’s background, traditions, and culture did add to her challenges and the challenges that she and Anthony faced in their relationship, but also rounded out her character and made this a great historical romance for diverse representation and enriching the reader’s historical knowledge. This also connected really well to the themes of home and family, which was an important sticking point for Anthony’s character, their sparring, and ultimate love story as well.

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I recieved a free copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this book.
Raya was left a castle by her cousin whom she had never met.
Strick couldn't believe that his father had left his family home to his wife instead of him but had always believed that the castle would become his again after his stepmother's death.
Raya was pushed out of her family business by her brother and now the castle she has inherited is incapable of supporting itself. But Raya has a plan and needs Strick to support her.
I really enjoyed Raya's independence and business acumen but I loved Strick. He had a reason to dislike Raya and the changes she proposed but his willingness to change and his infatuation with Raya was endearing.
There were a few steamy scenes that were well done.
I do hope we get Hawk's story next. He was just a passing character in this book but his past was intriguing.
5 stars.

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The Duke Gets Desperate follows Raya who unexpectedly comes into an inheritance of a castle from a distant cousin and how she clashes with Anthony, the duke who had expected to inherit the castle. I really liked their dynamic and how it evolved over the course of the book. I loved Raya as a main character and how headstrong she was in wanting to run her own business. Watching her figure out how to save the castle was a really fun plot line. I think Raya and Anthony's first kiss came a little too soon in the story for me as I wanted the tension to have been built up a little bit more, but I did enjoy the development of their relationship as the story went on.

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My favorite thing about Diana Quincy's totally bingeable books are the glimpses of Arab culture that we get woven through the story. Her heroines are so unique and smart and special because of their culture and I love getting that experience.

The Duke Gets Desperate is the story of Raya who unexpectedly inherits a castle. Strick, the duke who expected to inherit, live in the castle and owns the grounds. They both need income to make the castle and community thrive so her business sense comes into play. But also their hate to love is explosive and tense on page and it's fantastic.

Pick this up for hate to love, lots of kissing, but also external conflict that keeps you reading past your bedtime.

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An extra star for the mirror scene. Maybe I should start a petition asking historical romance authors to include at least one hot mirror scene in their books. Everyone will be happy, no?

Steamy and full of snarky banter, The Duke Gets Desperate explores a romance between an English duke and an Arab-American merchant, who learn to love and trust each other despite many challenges.

I loved the romance between the two protagonists. Arab-American Raya Darwish is unapologetically fierce and feminist. Raya is very capable of taking care of herself and isn’t seeking a husband. Moreover, Raya possesses a solid business acumen. She believes women should be financially independent, and frankly, she’s correct! A lot of Raya’s experiences resonated with me. I found it hilarious how Raya brightens each time there’s an opportunity to make money. “Making money animated this woman the way a naked strumpet aroused a man” LOL! Duke of Strickland AKA Strick, on the other hand, is somewhat of a jerk in the beginning, especially for vilifying Raya’s deceased cousin. However, Strick grew on me as the book progressed. He was thoughtful, supportive, and happy to put Raya in charge of finances. I liked his interest in archeology, too.

I adored Raya’s dramatic aunt. I wish Majida auntie appeared more in the second half of the book. “No one executed dramatic wailing quite like Arab aunties.” Haha! So do Desi aunties. Furthermore, I loved the descriptions of Arabic dishes. There were also trivial misunderstandings which annoyed me a little. But they didn’t linger too long to curtail my enjoyment. Raya and Strick managed to communicate and resolve their differences. The mystery was interesting, but I was able to figure it out. It's an irritating talent I possess.

Overall, an enjoyable read.

CW: racism, sexism, murder.

Thanks to NetGalley and Avon for the e-ARC.

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I loved this book. Diana Quincy writes delightful romance books with fabulous characters. I would recommend to others. This was a great book!!

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When American Raya inherits her cousin's English castle, she clashes with Anthony, Duke of Strickland, who believes the manor house is rightfully his. Facing financial ruin, they must collaborate. Their initial disdain turns to fiery attraction. But when question arise about Raya's cousin's death, Raya wonders whether Strick truly wants her—or just her castle.

I love how Raya stands up to Strick, unintimidated by his arrogant dukely presence. She forces him to come to terms with the realities of their situation, and he soon comes to value her unique talents. The passion between them is strong. The mystery about the cousin's death kept me guessing.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.

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