Review: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

Reviewed by Jen

I really enjoyed this first installment in Caroline Linden’s new Wagers of Sin series, that features a stuffy duke and the independent pretend-widow that captures his interest. I’m always a sucker for a romance that features a hero and heroine of different social classes and the “forbidden” element that brings. Not only does this book have that, it also has a wonderfully stuffy hero who the heroine manages to unravel completely.

The story starts strong with a peek inside Sophie’s history. She is the granddaughter of nobility, but when her parents die, her beastly grandfather ships her off to school and cuts her off when she reaches 18… all because he never approved of her parents’ marriage. Thanks to her first 12 unconventional years, Sophie has a gift with cards and with gambling, and once she is on her own, she visits gaming hells to amass the money she needs to set herself up for marriage. She even invents a phony dead husband give her the kind of access a spinster would never enjoy.

Her plan was actually working until the duke’s younger brother, Phillip, took an interest in her. You see, Phillip has a bit of a gambling problem and his brother, Jack, has been paying off his debts. But Phillip takes things too far when he goes back to the gaming hell at the same time Jack is there to pay off the proprietor. Jack catches his brother blowing even more money and flirting with a captivating woman in a red dress. Jack is immediately drawn to Sophie and thinks to teach his brother a lesson by taking her away from him.

So this is one of the only parts of the story that didn’t entirely click for me. One, that Jack is so overcome with Sophie at first sight that he gambles against her, himself…loses a ton of money… then wagers even more against a week of her time. (This is totally against character for him and I’m never a fan of the insta-thing.) The other is that the normally careful Sophie accepts his crazy wager, knowing it could ruin her hard-fought respectability.

Obviously, Sophie loses and thus begins her forced proximity situation, trapped for days with the duke. But they quickly become friends, bringing out the best in each other before it turns physical.

I really liked these two together and how they played off each other. Particularly, I enjoyed seeing the warmth peek through Jack’s cold veneer. These two had a good rapport and though they fell for each other rather quickly, I found it to be an engaging ride with a satisfying conclusion.

I will happily read more in this series, and though I feel like the books will focus on Sophie’s friends, I hope Phillip gets his own chance for happiness in a later installment.

Rating: B/B+

*ARC provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon

My Once and Future Duke
by Caroline Linden
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Avon

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