ONE NIGHT IN LONDON – Caroline Linden
The Truth About the Duke
The Duke of Durham has three son. Charles, Lord Gresham, the eldest and heir, devotes himself to enjoying life…wine, women, and gambling. The youngest De Lacey, an impulsive sort, is a Captain in His Majesty’s Army. In the middle is Lord Edward, the dutiful son who calmly and efficiently manages the monies and properties of the vast Durham estates. And what does the Duke himself? Durham lies dying in Sussex and pleads for all his sons to come to him; he has a secret to impart and apologies to make. Edward is naturally there; Gerard arrives from abroad before it’s too late, but Charlie can’t mange to come from London. The duke dies before revealing his long-kept secret. It is up to the family lawyer to deliver the letters that reveal the stunning news that threatens the three lords’ very inheritance. Edward and Gerard are shocked and react in their various ways. Gerard takes off to find the truth and the person who threatens the status quo. Edward sets off for London where he finds Charlie laid up with a broken leg, but seemingly unmoved by the dire threat; his is a very laconic personality. Next, Edward sends for the best solicitor in Town to help him in fighting for all their futures.
Meanwhile, the widowed Francesca, Lady Gordon has finally been granted an appointment with London’s leading solicitor, Mr. James Wittiers. He is right on the verge of agreeing to take her case when he is called out of the room by his assistant…and never comes back. Francesca connives to learn Wittiers has been stolen from her by Lord Edward de Lacey. Francesca is in a fight to claim the orphaned daughter of her late half sister who is being kept from her in spite of the promises made by the girl’s father before he died. Georgina is living with her step-mother and her brother. The brother forbids Francesca even to see her niece. Francesca is not one to give up easily. She’s as fiery as her Italian mother and right now is wholly steamed at the solicitor-stealing lord. In moments, she’s pounding at his door demanding to see him.
Is this a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object? Well…it’s true the serious, steady—some say cold—Edward and the charming, volatile and independent Francesca could hardly be more different. It’s also undeniable that an instant attraction, unwelcome to both, stirs physical feelings.
Eventually, the two agree to work together: Francesca will use her contacts to lessen the gossip about the duke’s secret, and Edward will help find and win Georgina for her. That this means they must meet often is something Edward feels he must fight against. Francesca, on the other hand, wonders if anything could come of their association, and, if so, what would that mean to her pleasant life.
ONE NIGHT IN LONDON is both fun and moving. It’s not a quick read; and in the latter half contains several lengthy love scenes, but it’s entertaining on the whole. The characters are well-defined, and Edward, especially, goes through a metamorphosis. The happy ending does leave a cliffhanger, however. I would guess we have two brothers’ stories to go before all is wrapped up. BLAME IT ON BATH is expected next March and is most likely Gerard’s tale.
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