“The Reluctant Duchess” by Roseanna M. White is a novel set in Scotland and England in 1912. Except for the use of horses and carriages along with motor cars, I would have thought this novel to be set in regency England because of the storyline.
Lady Rowena Kinnaird has never felt good about herself. Because of the way her father treated her all her life she had a poor opinion of herself. The man she hoped to marry damaged her in the most horrific way and her father blamed her. She prayed to God to help her, but even He seemed not to hear. When repercussions of the attack by her former unofficial fiancé began to make themselves known, it was clear to her father and ladies’ maid, Lilias, they would have to devise a way to save her reputation and honor.
Brice, the Duke of Nottingham, is very flirtatious with the ladies and quite an influential man. He is duped into compromising Rowena so that her father finds them and demands that Brice provide satisfaction. Rowena does not wish to go along with this charade, but has no choice.
Not only is Brice compromised, but he is also trying to bring a thief into the open. His family is the owner of priceless jewels that supposedly have been cursed, but are still sought after by others. Lady Pratt seems to be the one who would do anything to have the jewels and the money that they would bring to the right buyer. Brice is determined to smoke her out. He also is beginning to fall in love with Rowena and she with him. Between the two of them, they plan a ruse to catch whoever is desperate enough to kill for the jewels.
Although I enjoyed the story very much, I had trouble keeping up with the characters. I frequently had to go back to the beginning of the book to check out the list of characters to see where they fit in the story. My interest was not as intent on the story as I would have liked and I think that this is the reason.
I received a complimentary print copy of this book from Bethany House.