As an American who loves to travel, I simply adore reading books about out-of-place characters, although most of the ones that come to mind involve a heroine rather than hero. That makes The Texan Duke a refreshing change from all the stories of American heiresses in England. Instead, we have the story of a die-hard Texan showing up in Scotland to reluctantly claim his inheritance, much to the dismay of all concerned. Although this is the third book in Karen Ranney’s Duke series, you don’t need to read the others to enjoy this one.
Connor McCraight was born and raised on a ranch in Texas and has never dreamed of living anywhere else. His father was Scottish and occasionally spoke Gaelic when irritated, but beyond that Connor never thought much about his father’s origins. That changes when a solicitor shows up at his ranch and tells him that after the death of his uncle - a man he never knew existed - Connor is now the Duke of Lothian. Although Connor’s first instinct is to simply ignore this inheritance, His mother convinces him that his father would’ve wanted him to at least visit Scotland, so he consents to go with the solicitor. As he comes to realize the enormity of his inheritance, (which includes a family mansion, Bealadair, which is not entailed), Connor decides to sell everything off to provide money for his ranch. The family has recently been a bit strapped for cash after buying more land off a friend, and this inheritance will get the place back on its feet.
This is Connor’s mentality when his carriage pulls up at Bealadair on a snowy Scottish night. Waiting for him are his aunt, three cousins, one cousin-in-law, and his uncle’s ward. Both Connor and his newfound family are not prepared for the clash of Scottish and Texan, as a world of old traditions meets someone from the land of fresh starts. Raised surrounded by longhorns and open vistas, Connor feels no real attachment to Scotland or the customs he’s now expected to be a part of - he just wants to go home.
That changes somewhat when he notices his uncle’s beautiful ward. Elsbeth Carew’s father was a friend of the old duke, and when he and his wife died in a train crash, she was immediately brought to Bealadair to live with the McCraight family. As she grew up, she was generally treated as a daughter of the house, although she now assists the elderly housekeeper in running the household
It’s easy to see why Connor and Elsbeth are attracted to each other. Beyond a mutual physical attraction, they seem to recognize each other as kindred spirits. Elsbeth takes note of Connor’s stance on his first day at Bealadair as he surveys the land, remarking to herself on the confidence in his body language. Unlike other members of the aristocracy, he is clearly a man accustomed to labor and who values his accomplishments more than his birth. Likewise, Connor finds himself admiring how adept Elsbeth is at her job, managing the household efficiently and even taking time to care for their herd of Scottish cows. It seems the best way to win the heart of a cowboy is to show off your familiarity with cattle.
Of course, a romance between these two isn’t destined to be smooth sailing. Having grown up at Bealadair and knowing its tenants well, Elsbeth is dismayed to learn about Connor’s plans to sell up. She gives him a tour of the castle and lands to make sure he understands the place before selling it, but never tries to get in the way of the sale. She gets major points in my book for acting like a reasonable adult, as does Connor. Rather than brushing off her concerns regarding the tenants or ignoring the history of the land, he listens attentively to what Elsbeth has to say and, while he doesn’t change his decision, he does his best to keep Bealadair’s interests in mind.
The only thing I didn’t like about The Texan Duke was the slight mystery plot woven into it. As far as I could tell, this is included in order to provide moments of danger and drama which further Connor and Elsbeth’s relationship, prompting them to confront their feelings earlier than they perhaps ordinarily might have done. When the plot is uncovered (and quickly wrapped up) at the end, it proves to be ill-planned and does little to provide us with any information that is relevant to the tale. Given this minimal effect on the story, I could have done without it.
Aside from that complaint, though, I truly enjoyed The Texan Duke and would definitely recommend it to any fans of Karen Ranney, or anyone else who enjoys seeing a brash American land in Britain.
Recent Comments …
I read and reviewed one of Anne Renwick’s books here – I seem to remember quite enjoying it.
It’s the original one–unlike many of the other older historicals, this one hasn’t been updated.
Forget Me Not was the first one I thought of, I liked it so much. I look forward to her…
I am more of a, “knew each other as kids then lost contact” sort of person, such as in Rogue…
Am I the only one who had to do a double-take on that Liz Carlyle cover? Lol
“Ooops, we’re still married” is one of my favorite tropes. I love stories featuring couples who think they were divorced…