Kerrigan Byrne Book Reviews
The Duke (Victorian Rebels)
St. Martins Press
The first time Imogen Pritchard met Collin Talmage, Duke of Trenwyth, he was a brooding soldier suffering from the unimaginable loss of not only his parents in a carriage accident, but the heir, his older brother, Robert. Suddenly he was a titled peer of the realm. Deciding to drown his sorrows with his men, he followed them to The Bare Kitten to lose himself in the arms of one of the ladies. Imogen was not one of the ladies, but the bartender, forced to work there at night to pay off her father’s debts--and a virgin. So, of course, the owner decided to offer her virginity to the duke for 20 pounds.
The next time she saw Collin, several years later, Imogen was at her day job as a nurse at the local hospital, and Collin was a tortured, almost dead, returned prisoner of war, who had suffered horribly at the hands of the Turks. He was delirious with fever, and the only person he wanted to soothe his tortured soul was someone named Ginny. No one at the hospital knew of Imogen’s night job, of course; she would have been ruined, but she had never forgotten their one night of passion and, evidently, neither had Cole.
This story will grip you from the first page. The plight of the poor, especially women, in Victorian times, is graphically portrayed in the attitudes and treatment of them by the wealthy and titled. Even Cole is a hard hero to like until almost the end, but Imogen is a no-nonsense, do- whatever-you-have-to-to-survive heroine that takes no crap from Cole. Readers will root for her throughout the book, and she is a wonderful example of just how strong women have had to be throughout the centuries. Both antagonists work hard for their happily-ever-after ending, but when they reach it, it’s worth the wait! And the secondary characters, with their equally independent wives, just add extra spice to an already great book!