Anyway, we are here to talk about the conclusion to Caroline Linden’s The Truth About the Duke trilogy, The Way to a Duke’s Heart. I have utterly enjoyed this trilogy and not just because Linden is one of my favorites.
The Truth About the Duke is that many years before he improbably inherited the Duchy of Durham, Frances de Lacey married an entirely unsuitable woman. To both their credits, they both realized pretty quickly that they would not suit, and went their separate ways. Without a divorce. Or annulment. Or anything.
Then Frances became a duke, and found himself a duchess, and had three sons: Charlie, Edward, and Gerard. Who had no idea about this first marriage until their father died, wracked with guilt, and a not quite deathbed confession. Frances was hoping no one would ever find out- he’d not spoken to his first wife in decades. No one knew, not even his sister.
But someone knew. Someone had been sending the old duke blackmail letters. The three books are the stories of each son doing their part to figure shit out. Edward sics the lawyers on the case, Gerard goes hunting with the intent to kill the blackmailer. Charlie, the heir, gets drunk a lot.
Book three is Charlie’s book- after his brothers get started and meet fantastic women and tell Chalrie that he needs to grow the fuck up and do something about his own damn inheritance. Charlie, who’d had a rocky (at best) relationship with their father, realizes that maybe they are right. He starts in Bath where Gerard has sussed out the identity of the blackmailer.
In Bath, he checks into an inn and promptly inconvienences Tessa, who just needs a room and a bath and to NOT be overheard making snarky comments about Charlie. She gets two of those. As meet-cutes go, it’s pretty standard, but charming.
Charlie figures out that Tessa is in business with the suspected blackmailer, so when she goes off to Fromme to inspect a canal, he follows her. Sparks fly, there’s a bit of classic denial of attraction, and then there’s hot sex. It’s what I expect from Caroline Linden, and she does not disappoint.
What I really enjoyed about this trilogy in general, and this book in particular, is the three very different couples and three very different women. They are all strong women, but they are strong in different ways. Tessa, in particular, is a financial genius, and helps her brother with his investments. She is unapologetic about being smarter than everyone in the room, and isn’t always the most tactful person. She’s resigned herself to being a widow for the rest of her life, and has been burned by a dude who did not appreciate her awesome. (HOLLER)
Charlie appreciates her awesome, and is in the process of discovering his own awesome. He’s got himself the mother of all daddy issues. He’s been living down to his father’s expectations his entire life, and now needs to live up to his own.
I miss the crazysauce days of the early 90s when plots were PLOTS, and I get a little tired of the endless Regency ballrooms. Linden gets away from the ballrooms and makes a plausible plot that still feels rather fresh. I like legal twists and turns (SHOCKER), which made Edward’s story about the hunt for a solicitor and the proper way to handle this mess fun, and being a little bit bloodthirsty, Gerard’s hunt for the blackmailer for knee-breaking purposes was enjoyable. And Charlie having to figure out everything and tie it all up into a pretty bow while wooing the girl and getting his shit together- I can relate.
So brava, Madame Linden, on another fine trilogy.
The books in this trilogy in order are:
One Night in London (Book one)
Blame it On Bath (Book two)
The Way to a Duke's Heart (Book three)