Second Duke's the Charm
by Kate Bateman
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Pub Date 26 Dec 2023 | Archive Date 09 Jan 2024
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Paperbacks
Meet Her Majesty’s Rebels: three brilliant women who run King & Co., London’s most exclusive investigative agency...
The wedding-night death of her much older husband left Tess Townsend the Dowager Duchess of Wansford—and still a virgin. Now she and her two best friends investigate London’s most scandalous crimes, and while Tess longs to experience physical pleasure for herself, she can’t risk losing her treasured independence...
Cynical shipping magnate Justin Thornton never expected to inherit a dukedom, but he’ll do his duty. When the ravishing woman he kissed at a party turns out to be the Dowager Duchess, Justin sees an obvious solution: a marriage of convenience that will suit them both.
But the passion that sparks between them is anything but convenient. As Tess works on a new case at the request of Queen Charlotte, her increasingly suspicious behavior makes Justin question her motives—and her past. The infuriating woman clearly can’t be trusted, but Justin doesn’t believe in love, so there’s absolutely no danger of him falling for his own wife...is there?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 394 members
Her Majesty's Rebels is a new series from Kate Bateman that feels like MacLean's Hell's Belles meets Quinn's Bridgertons, and I'm so excited for the next few books. Second Duke's a Charm delivered on some of the best tropes historical romance has to offer: marriage of convenience, forbidden love, intrigue and strong female friendships. I ate it up.
Thanks to SMP, NetGalley, and the author for the eARC in exchange for my review.
I am constantly in awe of romance authors who skillfully strike the delicate balance between love and mystery, and Kate Bateman is undoubtedly one of them. In this captivating novel, she flawlessly intertwines the thrilling tale of a courageous heroine and her life as a spy with a heartwarming romance that blossoms between her and the hero. The intricate dance of passion and suspense within these pages is truly indispensable to the overall narrative.
I’m always amazed by romance authors who manage that perfect balance between romance and intrigue and Kate Bateman is one of them. She perfectly weaves the plot in this book of the heroine and her spy life with the romance between her and the hero. Both the romance and the drama are essential to each other. Tess is such a sweet and fun heroine. And I loved her friends and can’t wait to see their stories in the future! Justin (sigh I hate that name lmao sorry to any Justins out there. It just feels extremely modern. I know it isn’t but, all I think of is the slew of Justins we’ve had in pop culture haha) is the typical “I’m not falling for my wife of convenience” husband that immediately falls for his wife of convenience. It was delicious to see.
Props to the final climax of the story. Edge of my seat fun hehe 🐎
To put it plainly: Kate Bateman's books are the pinnacle of historical romance, and Second Duke's the Charm confirms what any reader of her prior work already knows.
Kate Bateman = HistRom Queen.
Tess is a duchess and widow empowered by the wealth of her dead husband's title and lands, so she's not thrilled when the next Duke in line is at last located (and survives long enough to take his seat in Lords). Lucky for Tess and reluctant peer Justin, the chemistry between the two of them is off the charts. They waste no time arranging a marriage of convenience, only to find some deeply inconvenient feelings put a wrinkle in their plans to live separate lives.
This is the first book in a new series, and while Tess's friends are clearly fine candidates for stardom in future novels, observant readers will catch a reference to three brothers on the margins of this story that I hope will get stories of their own. Just the thought of a minimum six-book series from Bateman makes life worth living (no pressure, Kate!).