Since young adulthood, Charles de Lacey has led a profligate life mostly full of care, isolated from his family and completely uninterested in the dealings of his estate. As the heir to a dukedom, he’s simply let his brother Edward take charge alongside his father, while his soldier brother Gerard served the purpose of bravery. But when Charlie’s father dies, haunted by a blackmailer who’s discovered a deadly secret, this devil-may-care nobleman must whip himself into shape in order to ensure he secures his inheritance. On the trail, Charlie meets Tessa Neville, a stubborn, intelligent woman whose presence around the suspected blackmailer raises Charlie’s curiosity. How is she connected with the case – and can she help him rescue his family?
The Way to a Duke’s Heart is the third in a trilogy of books about the de Lacey brothers. I’ve also reviewed the first two. You don’t have to read the first two to enjoy this book; as with most romance novels, the external plot is not really that tight and the focus is much more on the romance. All you really need to know is that Charlie is hunting for a blackmailer who could rob him of his inheritance, making him and his two brothers into virtual paupers overnight. Some clues were found by Edward and Gerard over the course of the first two books, but it is really down to Charlie to find the answers and save his own fortunes, as well it should be.
That’s because Charlie is most definitely the wastrel of the three; we learn very early on that he was driven away by his father holding him to too-high standards as his heir, while failing to allow him to marry the woman he thought he loved at a tender age. But now that Edward and Gerard have in some sense settled down with their wives, he’s left on his own to solve the mystery and prove himself worthy of his title. Tessa, on the other hand, is a businesswoman before they really existed. Running her brother’s estate, she’s left to make all the decisions for him and has made a huge success of herself. She’s in Bath to investigate a canal building project – and she does a cracking good job of it – where she and her elderly companion run into Charlie. Sparks fly, Tessa doubts, Charlie charms, and solves the mystery while he’s at it.
All in all, this was a really delightful ending to the trilogy. I liked that Charlie finally got his resolution in more ways than one; it’s obvious that it’s going to happen, but I was very pleased with the way it all turned out for him. I was completely satisfied with the finish of the mystery that has lasted over the course of the trilogy, too. Even though the blackmailer plot more or less served as a way to get these three brothers in contact with their three new wives, I did find that it intrigued me and I wanted to know what happened to their father in his younger years. And I loved Tessa, as you might expect; she’s so very intelligent with her businesslike mathematical mind, I could see why she would have had so little previous luck with men. I enjoyed Charlie’s charm and persistence with her greatly, and I very much cheered for their happy ending.
A very entertaining and highly recommended trilogy of romantic novels!
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