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The Duke in Disguise (The Sisters of Willow Pond) Mass Market Paperback – June 27, 2006
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About the Author
After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she'd always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers' Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog, Uma, and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.
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Top Customer Reviews
Meriel is in sudden need of a job to help support her mother and sisters. As the daughter of a once well to do banker, who died leaving them ruined, a governess is the job she is most suited for. She is interviewed by the Duke of Thanet and hired. While she had been initially curious about the Duke she is now down right intrigues there is definitely something different about him. Even his son comments that he is around more than he normal, and more interested in what he is doing.
Richad O'Neill is the "bastard" older half brother to the Duke of Thanet. When the Duke's life appears to be in jeopardy he agrees to masquerade as him to help find out who is bound and determined to kill not only the Duke but his young heir. Looking enough like the duke this should be easy to pull off. But, he had not figured on the attraction he found to the new governess. It is making it hard for Richard to act the rogue, and flamboyant man when he wants to act as the levelheaded thoughtful person he really is.
When the young heir figures out that Richard isn't really his father, as he takes him fishing which his "real dad" would never do he is sworn to secrecy. But, as young children do he eventually lets it slip to Meriel. It is partially reliefs to Meriel as she can't believe she is so drawn to the notorious rouge and has let him not only kiss her but more. On the other had Meriel is furious that she has been tricked. That is until she finds out her young charge is in danger at which point she joins in and works to keep him safe.
When her father's untimely death forced Meriel Shelby to seek gainful employment, she felt lucky to have been successful in securing the position as governess to the young Marquess of Ramsgate. Never mind that the young boy's father is the indolent and rakish Duke of Thanet, whose bad reputation would have put off most women, Meriel is determined to do her best for the young, intelligent six year old boy who has been shamefully neglected by his father. Which is why Meriel is thrown when the careless father suddenly turns up and begins to show unexpected interest in his son. Worse still, there is something different about the duke that catches Meriel interest and makes her consider him with new eyes. Has the duke changed for the better? Or is there something sinister about the duke's sudden change in behaviour? Meriel is determined not to give in to the allure of this new duke and to discover what is at the bottom of this sudden change in behaviour...
I won't be giving anything away in noting that the man that snares Meriel's interest is actually the duke's illegitimate half-brother, Richard O' Neill, who is masquerading as his brother in order to protect the young marquess. It is an oft used plot-line, and unfortunately, Gayle Callen uses it with practically no variation in theme. Richard is the typical hero -- nice, honourable and brave, determined to protect his nephew and save his brother no matter what; while Meriel is the typical heroine, determined to find out what's going on so that she can protect her charge, even if it is against the very man she finds herself unnaturally attracted to. There is very little suspense and practically no tension. Part of the reason for this is that the author adds noting new to this basic recipie; the other problem is that the villain of the piece is easily identified about a third into the book. Nothing to keep you guessing here at all -- unless you count wondering when Meriel will succumb to Richard as being suspenseful. All in all, "The Duke in Disguise" was a well written but rather bland 3 star read. Things do pick up towards the end, but it is rather slow going as Meriel and Richard circle around each other sizing each other up. And given that I had rather enjoyed "The Lord Next Door," it did seem a shame that "The Duke in Disguise" was a bit of a letdown.
She also believes the Duke is behaving differently as he spends quality time with his offspring, something he seemed loathed to do before yet enjoys now especially when Stephen is with Meriel. Thus the Duke devastates her plan to avoid him. As she falls in love, Richard O'Neill ironically thinks back to the vow he made to his dying brother Cecil, the real Duke, to not reveal their masquerade pretense in order to keep Stephen safe from cousin Charles; finally in love he has to hide his true identity from his beloved.
THE DUKE IN DISGUISE, the second Sisters of Willow Pond novel, is a fabulous early Victorian romance starring two likable protagonists and a precocious (perhaps too much so) preadolescent. The story line centers on the attraction between the governess and the phony duke as she struggles with the enigma of the whys of now in love with him and his so different behavior while he internally wars with his desire to reveal to her the truth in spite of his pledge. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this fine historical and seek out the previous winner, THE LORD NEXT DOOR (the tale of Meriel's sister).