Never Deceive a Duke by Liz Carlyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Enjoyable historical romance.
She's the widow of the recently deceased duke.
He's the long lost and very reluctant heir.
There is backstory angst. Antonia has buried two husbands, and there is heartache and betrayal in her past. And, her family while not terrible isn't very supportive (in part because the times and sexism.) But she's basically had loss and her own demons, even if she is beautiful, rich, and from the upper class.
Gareth is a self made man who has basically been on his own since he was about 12 or 13. His earliest childhood was good -- loving grandparents and mother. But then his father died, and then his mother, and his grandfather lost his money, and the relatives who should have taken care of him did not. And that's just the start of it. He does not view being the duke as a good thing.
In addition to these two getting together, and helping each other, there is also a murder mystery!
I like that this touched on issues of class, and sexism, and the value of work, and responsibility. Honestly, the best part of "long lost heir" stories isn't the "and now I'm rich and powerful, wowza" bit but the "huh, there is responsibility here." Because, especially for this time period, being a duke is equivalent to being a CEO. And how most of these stories approach that aspect is to have the person take it seriously. (Bad guys and villians and bad fathers tend to focus on the "rich and powerful" part and irresponsibility leave the estates, and those dependent on it, in a terrible place.)
Other bits: Gareth's mother is Jewish, and the prejudices of the time are part of the story.
Also: Gareth spends time on a ship and there is abuse. Not a lot of detail about it, but a heads up because that's a big "no" for some readers.
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