A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen (The Devils of Dover #1)
Released: February 20, 2018
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “I am not going to accept less of you, Clara Hayward. I will have you, and you will have me.”
August Faulkner is not only a man with a keen sense of business. Not only a man whose father was in debtor’s prison for years. He is also a duke. An inherited title, but a self-made man of wealth. August finds businesses that are crumbling, buys them, breaks them down and rebuilds. He leaves the former business owners angry but he buys them fairly and has no remorse for what he leaves behind. When he hears that the Hayward shipping business is in trouble, he starts to sniff out a new venture. But he needs to get close to the Hayward brother who is now in charge of the shipping since his parents have died. And in order to get close to the brother, he decides to get close to the sister.
Clara Hayward first met August ten years ago when he dared to ask her to waltz. Clara never fit in with society – wealthy, and a lady – but extremely intellectual and considered a wallflower. More so, the men were too scared of her intelligence to deem her worthy of their attention. But that waltz with August that night found two souls who dared each other for more. But when the waltz ended, so did that few minutes of intense chemistry and they went their separate ways. Clara is now the headmistress for Haverhall School for Young Ladies, a school where the best of the best fight to get in. Unfortunately for Clara, she must sell the school to help her brother finance the family’s failing shipping business. And guess who buys it?
When August’s sister leaves a note saying she is leaving for the summer to attend Haverhall, August rushes to Dover to find out what in the world his sister is doing, and to get close to Clara, so he can woo her brother’s shipping business. When he sees Clara again, that passion comes back but he is also entering into her world – where woman can learn to make their own choices and August is up for quite the life lesson.
August is a flawed hero – at least if you compare him to a modern man. He thinks women need to be cared and protected against anything in the outside world. He doesn’t understand why his sister, who has great ambitions for running hotels, doesn’t appreciate it when he buys her the finest dress or the best necklace. He doesn’t understand why she wants to care about business or anything outside the home. Clara is all too familiar with the frustrations of being a woman and staying in the good graces of society, which is why she opened her school. She teaches the girls painting, and dancing, and all of the things a woman needs to learn to stay in society. But in the summer, she picks select girls to really live out their fantasies. They shadow physicians, and landscape gardeners – and as in August’s sister’s case – hoteliers. August continually bumps heads with his sister and Clara over the fact that a woman would want anything more than being protected by a man. His journey to come out of this mindset is very well done and not rushed.
The romance in this one made me smile. From that one dance all those years ago – where Clara knew he was dancing with her on a dare from his friends, and she stared directly in his eyes and gave him the dance of his life – he has been searching for that passion from a woman ever since. Their banter and sexual tension is delightful in this one.
“You have that many abominably asinine requests?” Clara knew she should simply nod and smile politely, but somehow he was drawing her into this…banter that she has no business participating in. And it was exhilarating.
“You might be surprised.” He grinned, and her pulse immediately skipped.
“You know,” she said, returning his grin, “I don’t think I would.”
Something shifted in his eyes. Something hot and possessive. Something that made her knees weaken and an ache settle low in her belly and her breasts. “There she is,” he murmured almost inaudibly.
Clara doesn’t let August get away with anything in this book, and I really enjoyed her. She is also not afraid to show him that she is attracted to him and to admit they have something good together.
“Do not put words in my mouth, Miss Hayward. Because that’s not who I see when I look at you.” The force of his words made her eyes widen. “I see an intelligent woman, the same one who once put an ignorant buck in his place and taught him that things are rarely as they seem. I wish I had understood that then.”
“And what would you have done differently if you had?” she asked quietly.
“I would have asked you to dance again.” August reached for her hand and caught it, bringing it up between them, his thumb sliding over her bare knuckles. “I wish I had asked you to dance again.”
She was silent for a long minute, a gut-wrenching, electrifying mix of desire and longing flitting across her usually unreadable features.
Her fingers tightened on his. “I wish you had too,” she said, and August felt the breath leave his lungs.
A great balance between the romance and Clara’s life at the school along with some family drama. It’s sexy and fun. A delightful romance! Very much looking forward to the next book.