The final piece of this anthology, An Unsuitable Duchess by Carolyn Jewel, starts on a promising note. But as the story dragged on longer than it needed to, with the main characters persisting in their blindness to each other’s true feelings, I had to revise my opinion.

The Duke of Stoke Teversault, known to his intimates as Stoke, has been pining away for Georgina “George” Lark for years. He loved her before she was married, loved her as she grieved for her husband, and is now ready to consider courting her himself — largely due to the fact that he’s noticed some other men pursuing her and doesn’t want to watch her slip through his fingers again.

George, for her part, has been lusting after Stoke since he supported her after the death of her beloved husband. She’s learned to see past his icy façade and is very much interested in the man beneath.

Considering how enamored George and Stoke are of each other, this should have been a fairly straightforward story. Instead, they rather mix up their courtship, commencing an illicit affair which serves no real purpose but to frustrate the reader by adding another step to what should have been a simple courtship process. Although this is a decent novella, its first half was far more promising and enjoyable than its second.