Friday, 10 February 2017

Review: The Duke's Secret Heir by Sarah Mallory

Four years ago in Egypt, Ellen Tatham fell in love with an English soldier named Max Colnebrooke and married him. But on returning to England, no record can be found of their marriage - the Chaplain and Max's regiment were not even supposed to be in that part of Egypt. Was she tricked by a conman? Ellen writes to Max's family, to tell them she is pregnant, but they dismiss her as a fortune-hunter. Utterly ruined, Ellen is forced to create a new identity for herself, that of a wealthy widow with a young son. Now she is the toast of Harrogate - which is the exact moment Max reappears in her life - as the Duke of Rossenhall.

From Max's point of view, Ellen ran away from Alexandria under the protection of the French Consul - so naturally he assumed she was having an affair with the other man. When he meets Ellen again, to demand a divorce, he finds her living with her son - who is obviously his. How dare she keep his child a secret from him?

I have a bit of an addiction to historical romance but even I get fed up of seeing the same tropes over and over again - wicked rake falls for innocent debutante who changes him, etc - so it's particularly refreshing to read something so completely different. Ellen and Max were mad for each other but now, through a series of misunderstandings on both sides, they actively dislike each other. In addition, the obstacles they have to face are very real, not something that can be easily overcome by one short conversation.

I love how the characters spark off each other, that first Ellen has the upper-hand, and then Max. Ellen is very independent, and has money of her own, so she's not easily bullied, while Max has to get over his past (and himself!). Their son, Jamie, is beyond cute and I loved the way Ellen dealt with her horrible sister-in-law - and not in a way I was expecting. The strength of the story is definitely in the characters and I was really rooting for them to find their happy ever after. Definitely recommended. Fans of historical romance will love it!

Note: Ellen appears as a secondary character in Sarah Mallory's novel The Chaperon's Seduction, but you don't have to have read that book to enjoy this one.

Thank you to Sarah Mallory for my copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest review.

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