The Duke's Proposal
For a lot of us, Leslie LaFoy consistently delivers pleasurable books. And the good news is that, even though it’s not without flaws, The Duke’s Proposal is another in her string of well-written European Historical Romances.
The last in her trilogy of books featuring the illegitimate daughters of a duke, this one tells the story of the youngest daughter, Lady Fiona, and her improbable romance with the handsome and talented Ian Cabbott, Duke of Dunsford.
Fiona is a young woman who doesn’t really enjoy the social whirl and has a reputation amongst the ton as being a bit psychic. Ian also despises society and prefers instead to focus on his work as a renowned surgeon, but a promise to his mother to find himself a bride leads to his meeting Fiona in the company of her temptress Aunt Jane.
To make a long story quite a bit shorter, the Duke enjoys a brief one night liason with the willing Jane on the same night that Fiona discovers her beloved cat has been injured. Knowing that only Ian can save her pet, Fiona shows up on his doorstep, cat and gun in hand. There’s a brief scene in which Fiona talks tough before Ian agrees to operate, with Fiona offering able assistance. As the morning approaches, Ian comes to the realization that Fiona would make a perfectly amiable (and perfectly compliant) bride. The fact that she is compromised after spending a night in his home simply makes matters easier.
Fiona, of course, initially refuses Ian’s proposal, but soon enough finds herself in tentative agreement. That is until she catches her beloved Aunt Jane on her knees before Ian in a private room at an evening’s entertainment. Ian, it seems, didn’t have quite enough time to alert Fiona’s aunt to his betrothal.
Fiona, quite understandably, is angry, but, after some pretty satisfying groveling by the chagrined Ian, she tacitly agrees to the proposal for the time being, with the understanding that she is free to back out at any time. And, that, fellow readers, is the book’s conflict. And it’s a weak one.
The book’s problems multiply when you add in the fact that in the course of a very few pages the sunshine-y, positive force of Fiona’s personality turns a taciturn and clinically depressed young invalid into Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Ma Soprano into Carol Brady. Uh-huh.
Even with these problems, I enjoyed The Duke’s Proposal. Leslie LaFoy’s deft hand kept me interested even when matters turned to the sappy side and I liked both Ian and Fiona and happily enough followed their story, however slight the conflict betweeen them.
If you’ve enjoyed the author in the past, I can just about guarantee that you’ll enjoy this one. There is something about a Leslie LaFoy novel – including the especially quiet ones – that works for me. Even if, as in this case, it doesn’t all exactly work perfectly.