Review: The Illegitimate Duke by Sophie Barnes

Reviewed by Jen

I have consistently enjoyed all three installments in the Diamonds in the Rough series. Each followed the love story of one of the Matthews siblings, a trio who grew up in poverty only to join the ton later in life.

The focus on this book is Juliette, the sister who struggled with her health as a child. More recently, she contracted a bout of the measles, which is how she got to know our hero, Florian. He is a serious and dedicated physician, and now he is also the unexpected heir to a dukedom.

The promise of nobility has made Florian irresistible to the ladies of high society. Only Juliette seems to see him as a man instead of a potential title. She is intelligent and selfless, and she actually seems interested in what he does for a living. She would be a perfect wife, if only he ever planned to marry. You see, Florian is hiding a devastating secret. He is actually a bastard and his true father is a criminal of the worst sort. Most people thought the man, Bartholomew, had been hanged for his various other crimes, but as this story begins, Florian learns the man is alive and well. He would never expose Juliette to the potential scandal or danger involved with becoming his wife.

If only they didn’t tempt each other so much.

When a typhus outbreak happens in the slums, Juliet steps up, promising her own money to help Florian and the local hospital in their efforts to keep it from spreading. But that means she and Florian will be spending even more time together. And as that happens, and they get to know each other even better, the attraction gets harder and harder to fight.

I really enjoyed the angst in this story. Florian was so steadfast in his determination to protect Juliette from his taint. But he refused to tell her why. And he could not make a clean break. So there is this constant push and pull between them, because they really do like each other and from there… want each other in a way that’s undeniable. Florian is one of those heroes who is so self-contained. You know there is all this feeling and need bubbling inside him. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the dam to break. And when little bursts of emotion peeked out, it was so gratifying.

Juliette is the kind of heroine which skirts the line of too good to be true. She’s pretty, self taught, giving, understanding, you name it. But it was ok, because I wanted Florian to have the kind of happiness but she promised.

This is a very very slow burn, but I didn’t mind because the anticipation was well done. There is an inevitable danger plot involving Florian‘s biological father, and though that was a little predictable, it worked out the way it needed to. At the end of the day, I was satisfied with how it all played out, even if my gratification was seriously delayed.

I’m also glad to see the series will not be ending here. It looks like Florian’s brother will be the hero of the next book, along with the mysterious widow who runs the hospital. It should be interesting to see how that romance develops.

Rating: B

*ARC provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Illegitimate Duke
by Sophie Barnes
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Avon


  1. Sophie Barnes says:

    Thank you for the lovely review!

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