About the Book:
A new duke and a woman with a secret in her past get a second chance at love in this delightful and charming Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of the Windham series.
Robert Rothmere is hiding a past no duke should have endured, but he’s not hiding it well enough. Sooner or later, his enemies will learn that he spent years locked away at a private asylum. To get their hands on his wealth, they’ll try to send him right back to his worst nightmares. If Robert is to foil their schemes, he needs to marry a perfectly proper, blessedly boring, deadly dull duchess, immediately—and he knows exactly which quietly delightful lady he’d love to entrust with that role.
Lady Constance Wentworth has cultivated a reputation for utter forgettability. She never speaks out of turn (in public), never has a daring thought (that she admits aloud), and never comes close to courting scandal… as far as anybody knows. Her path crossed Robert’s years ago, though, and she’s never forgotten the extraordinary lengths he traveled to keep her safe when she hadn’t a friend in the world. She longs to be his demure duchess…but little does he know that to marry her would be utter madness.
Robert Rothmere, Duke of Rothhaven, is attending a social gathering, as he slowly attempts to ease his way into a lifestyle that’s now foreign to him. After a childhood accident, Robert began to suffer from epilepsy, which was called falling sickness at that time. His father became ashamed, and had Robert institutionalized at the age of ten, and declared that he was dead. At this asylum, Robert was subjected to endless cruel “treatments” and “experiments” which served only to create more fears and insecurities in him. After several years there, a new maid was hired, one with intelligence and compassion. She managed to sneak food to Robert when he was being starved, as well as teaching all of the patients how to aid and assist each other, despite their sad circumstances. Robert fell a bit in love with the maid who had such a positive effect on him, though she wasn’t there for more than a few months. Years later, Robert’s father has died and his younger brother, Nathaniel, learns that he’s still alive, and brings him home. When Robert spots the maid from the asylum at this same gathering, he doesn’t hesitate to approach her.
Constance Wentworth is now the sister of a duke, though that’s a far cry from her childhood which was lived in poverty, and fraught with the effects of having an abusive father. Constance has excelled at making herself invisible, never drawing attention to herself, and acting the wallflower. Her sister, Althea, is now engaged to Nathaniel Rothmere, Robert’s brother. When Constance spots Robert, she instantly realizes that he’s the young man she helped years ago at the asylum, though he bears little resemblance to the sickly boy now. Constance is happy to see that Robert is alive and, apparently, well, but she can’t help but react a little coldly to him as he approaches, because he never responded to her correspondence after she left. For all these years, she never knew what had become of him.
Robert and Constance spend some time together talking, learning more about how their lives have progressed over the years. When Constance learns of Robert’s reasons for not answering her letter, she understands, and some of her reserve fades away. They continue to meet, and their connection causes concern for each of their families. Nathaniel doesn’t want to see his brother hurt, while Constance’s family doesn’t want her to become attached to a man they feel is lacking. Author Grace Burrowes paints a very sad picture of how those with epilepsy were treated. Many thought them insane, idiotic, or, even demon possessed.
Robert and Constance find their relationship growing stronger, and it’s not long before he proposes. While Constance longs to accept, she has a confession to make. There’s a very serious secret she’s harboring, and she can’t enter a marriage without her husband knowing. Robert also wants to make it clear that he is in constant danger of being declared incompetent and stripped of his title and wealth. When they do agree to marry, Constance comes to see first hand what an epileptic seizure is like, and how the public reacts. (And it’s not with sympathy and kindness.)
THE TRUTH ABOUT DUKES had me on a roller coaster of emotions. The love between Robert and Constance was wonderful, and couldn’t have happened to a more deserving couple. I love her understanding, kindness, and acceptance. I also really appreciated Robert’s determination to aid Constance in her quest. It was so heartbreaking, though, to watch what Robert had to endure, both physically, as there wasn’t medication to help him, and mentally, as his very sanity and intelligence was brought into question. There were some very nasty villains, eager to profit financially by their false accusations and greedy ambitions. It broke my heart to see Robert almost accepting that he didn’t deserve happiness. However, this is a romance, and when their families begin to support this couple, miracles can happen. THE TRUTH ABOUT DUKES is warm, emotional, romantic, thought provoking, character driven, and ultimately joyful. (While part of the Rogues to Riches series, this book can be read as a standalone, though I heartily recommend all books in the series.) ~Rose