The Diamond and the Duke
Grade : B

This is the third book in the All the Duke’s Sins series. I didn’t read the first two books in the series and this one stands well alone but I think it would have been nice to have read them for more background on the characters. This has Beauty and the Beast and friends to lovers vibes both of which are done with verve.

Lieutenant Wesley Audley and Lady Eleanor (Ellie) Balfour first meet as he is heading off to war and he comes to say goodbye to his sister, Cailin who is married to Ellie’s brother, Courtland (Desperately Seeking a Duchess).Wesley is an unusual man in that he is the illegitimate son of the Duke of Bentley and grew up working in a mine. He's headed to war because his sweetheart, Claire, suggested he ask his father for a commission and so he did. Ellie is a friend of his sister's and while he is visiting Cailin, he is kind to Ellie and takes the time to talk with her. Ellie admires him and develops a sort of schoolgirl crush on him.

Once Wesley was deployed, Claire never wrote to him. Ellie, when she hears of this, takes it upon herself to begin sending him letters, pretending to be Claire. Each chapter begins with a letter from her and she signs them, Lovingly Yours. I’m not exactly sure how he didn’t realize they weren’t from Claire, but I went along with it. However, over time, Ellie begins to think she is misleading Wesley and she stops sending him these missives.

Two years later, Wesley comes home badly injured from war, scarred and brokenhearted, and wants nothing more but to hide away from everyone. He holes himself up in his father's library and this is where Ellie finds him and begins to visit him.

Ellie is eighteen years old now but doesn’t want to marry for reasons that are revealed later in the story. But, despite that, she is drawn to Wes. Each are lonely and seem to be kindred spirits. Ellie has her own anxieties. Her father was horrible to her when she was young but he has since passed away. She believes she is a nuisance to her brothers and sisters, especially after she caused a scandal for her brother Cortland (in book 2 of the series). The time she spends with Wes gives her a contentment she doesn't have in her every day life.

As the two spend time together, Ellie helps Wes heal from his injuries and when he’s able to walk again, he is granted a dukedom for his bravery in battle and goes to London where he spends all his time in the gaming hells. I didn’t see that coming! (He doesn’t think he is good enough for Ellie and was embarrassed after she saw him at his injured worse.)

One year later, his brother Rafe (Along Came a Lady) finds him and tells him that Ellie has come to London for her debut season and could use his support. Ellie talked with him about how she dreaded having a season and he worries she will be lonely and afraid. But, instead, what he finds, when he attends her ball, is that she is popular and is even called the Diamond of the Season. But this is a facade. In truth, she is miserable because she fears marriage (for reasons I can’t reveal). Seeing Wes makes her happy and he realizes he has missed her terribly. But they must overcome Ellie's fears and Wes' sense he's not good enough for her. Theirs is an angsty story in all the best ways.

I had a hard time putting down this book, especially in the first half. In the second part of the story, Ellie asks Wesley to court her so her suitors will lose interest in her and he agrees to this for the three weeks left in the season. It’s sweet when they spend every day together, falling more in love, and the newspapers call them the Diamond and the Duke. They still have a few hurdles - Ellie thinks he’s still in love with Claire and there are some old misunderstandings between Ellie and her brothers and sisters.

This was a quick, solid read and I enjoyed it. I especially liked Ellie’s character and her family. While I liked Wesley, I thought it took him too long to realize he was worthy of Ellie. I also want to know more about Wesley’s early life and how his father found him. And though this works as a stand alone, I wanted to know more about Rafe, whose story is told in the first book in the series. If you love angsty Beauty and the Beast tales, I think you'll find this a fun historical romance.

Reviewed by Kayne Spooner
Grade : B

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : February 20, 2024

Publication Date: 02/2024

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Kayne Spooner

Kayne Spooner is a retired science teacher, dog owner, and proud grandma who lives in beautiful Colorado. While she's an avid reader of all genres, romances have always swept her off her feet. Kayne gravitates toward stories with humor, swoon-worthy love interests, and memorable furry sidekicks, although really, if there's a happy ever after, she's here for it! She loves sharing her passion for books with the romance community and connecting with fellow readers.
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