Desert Isle Keeper
All the Duke I Need
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Caroline Linden never misses.
All the Duke that I Need is no exception to that rule, with my hero of the year for 2022 thus far front and center and an appealing, spirited romance in the offering. Her characters are alive and lively in a way that’s entirely unique to her, and the whole book was a joy.
Philippa – Pippa – Kirkpatrick is a lovely and eligible heiress, but so adores her home and is so deeply entrenched in the daily running of it that she has no desire to roam. She lives at Carlyle Castle, the seat of the Duchess of Kirkpatrick, who has been her guardian since the passing of her son-in-law, Pippa’s father, at an unexpectedly young age. With one son mentally incapacitated and nearing death, one son dead in the Revolutionary War, and her daughter (Pippa’s stepmother, Jessica) long passed, the Duchess yearns for Pippa to find love and happiness of her own even as she is also searching for the heir to the dukedom of Carlyle. In the meantime, the estate needs a new steward, and when and when he arrives, Pippa’s world changes forever.
American William Montclair has taken the position at Carlyle to get out of his brother Jack’s way. The twosome have been fighting over their shipping firm ever since their father sent both brothers to London to establish the English arm of their business; Will is not suited for office work, and Jack is not suited to shipboard travel, and they argue constantly about money and duties. Will reasons that he’ll only be gone for a year, enough time for Jack to comfortably get things in shape, and it’s unlikely their father will ever find out he was gone.
Will shows up at Carlyle on a mild spring day dressed dramatically and behaving quite forwardly, suggesting modernizations, repairs and improvements that raise eyebrows. He flirts openly with Pippa the second she meets him, and she is instantly fascinated by him but puts him in his place for making assumptions about her staff. Her unexpected boldness finds him equally smitten. Will lies about his background to everyone at Carlyle. He doesn’t expect to fall for Pippa, and he doesn’t expect to immediately clash with the proper Duchess (Will does not help his case by stripping in the courtyard and coming to meet his new employer dressed in footman’s clothing after his clothes are ruined), which means Philippa must run some interference to protect his job. Promptly humbled, Will works to get into the good graces of everyone while trying to woo Pippa and do his job. As the year rolls by, they begin to fall for one another. Which means Will must choose between fleeing at the end of the year or staying – and risking telling Pippa the truth, which will likely disintegrate his hope of marrying her for good.
What a good romance, and more importantly what a couple of great character portraits.
Philippa (only the closest to her get to call her Pippa!) is smart, caring and resourceful. I loved her journey toward unraveling the duke mystery, and I loved watching her try to both love the duchess and forge a brand-new future for herself. Philippa is half-Indian, and how she feels about her lost mother, her late father, and her role in life as a half-white, half-Indian woman is beautifully handled. She knows her own mind utterly, and the romance she stirs up with Will is enchanting.
Speaking of Will – wow, did I love our hero! Will is zesty; he put me in mind of a lively type in the vein of a Cary Elwes. He wants Philippa to like him so badly and yet has his own vulnerabilities, and struggles with difficult relationships with his father and brother. Both he and Pippa are vibrant and jump from the page beautifully.
The romance is built on attraction, good banter, and strong commonalities, just as all of Linden’s other romances are; watching Will and Pippa go from simple lust to true love is a great, fun ride.
Linden knows how to craft memorable, realistic supporting characters as well as memorable plotlines, and there are some wonderful supporting characters here. I adored how everyone else, as well as the omnipresent and wonderful duchess, is protective of Philippa
There is a mystery here connected to the overarching dukedom plot, and yes, if you know anything about the Rule of Three Part Book Trilogies, you likely know that Will’s part of the solution here. One doesn’t necessarily need to have read the previous books to understand what’s going on here regarding it, since Linden ably catches everyone up to speed early in the novel.
All The Duke that I Need is a darned fine romance, and a lovely book that stands among Linden’s best.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier