In the midst of the Napoleonic wars, another battle rages. The Duke of Somerset is soon to die, but he’s not about to give up control of his family. He changes his will, forcing his son and heir John to remain under the authority of a man dissipated by alcohol and perversion, Lord Bartholomew, the Duke’s brother.
When Bartholomew makes threats against the young woman John is supposed to marry and then challenges the betrothal, John take steps to protect Kitty. He forbids her from visiting the estate without her mother or father in attendance. He then assures her father, Earl Raeburn, that he intends to marry Kitty in three years, when he reaches his majority and takes control of the estate.
Uncle Bartholomew responds to this interference more violently than John anticipated. After two attacks against John’s life, his mother decides it’s no longer for safe for John to live on the estate. In the dead of night, they visit the gypsies, who have come to help with the harvest. After offering them a healthy bribe, they agree to flee the area, sheltering John in their caravan.
John hopes the letter he’s left Kitty will sufficiently explain the situation, but it doesn’t come close to meeting her romantic requirements of a love letter.
The three years pass much too slowly. John doesn’t belong with the gypsies, and they never let him forget it. He misses his mother and Kitty, the only two people who ever showed him acceptance or affection.
He’s finally ready to return to his estates, when he receives a visit from someone high in his majesty’s government. The whole world is at war with Napoleon, but someone from the gypsy caravan is supposedly offering vital information to the enemy. If John wishes to save the gypsies, he’ll have to prove their innocence. This means acting as a spy for the British government, something no gentleman duke would consider. When he doesn’t return at the appointed time, it could also mean the end of his betrothal to Kitty.
John is almost ready to reveal the guilty parties, when he receives word that Kitty has decided to launch a Season in London. With his bride available on the Marriage Mart, John is convinced he can no longer wait to return to acceptable society. At the first big costume party, John attends dressed as a gypsy and falls instantly in love with his own fiancee. Knowing Kitty’s desire for all things romantic, he begins a careful onslought of her heart. Capturing her attention is easy, following through with the wooing whilst managing a career as a spy is not. If John isn’t careful, he could lose alot more than his estates. He could lose Kitty and his life.
Being a Gypsy Duke isn’t easy with the threat of treason hanging over your head.
In my opinion a novel isn’t a regency novel just because of its time period. It all comes down to the ‘feel’ of the novel, and this book had it. Not once, as I read this novel did I feel like it wasn’t a regency. A great regency deals with class issues, ton parties, and romance. This book had it all. Initially, when I read the premise of the book, I thought to myself that it had a lot going on. But I was so surprised to see how Ms. Mires took a situation that I never would have considered in a regency and made it work. John was a good hero. You could see how the pressures of his situation forced him to make the decisions that he made. I will say, when he finally pursued Kitty, it was sweet in a corny kind of way that left me smiling. Kitty. I really liked her. She was spunky and fun without stepping out of her historical era. There was one moment where I was worried that she would let me down, but she fixed it. She was hands down, my favorite character to read. I enjoyed all the secondary characters and I found myself wanting to know more about the gypsies (ahem, especially in regards to a big reveal). There were a couple of regency nuances that I wasn’t sure were 100% correct, but these never bothered the story. Spiritually, I found it a bit odd that Kitty would marry John not aware of his lack of faith (though, perhaps, realistic), but I loved how she prayed all the time and let her faith rest in God and not in man. I also liked the slow way John became a believer. It had a real touch of reality to it. Great novel, especially if you love this era.
** I was asked to read this from the author, my opinion was not affected in any way.**
Romantic scale: 9