The Once and Future Duchess by Sophia Nash (Royal Entourage #4)

The Once and Future Duchess by Sophia NashAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Avon

My Copy: Edelweiss

Reviewer: Pam

In theory, the Duke of Candover is the most eligible peer in the realm. But in truth, he has a deep aversion to the merest hint of marriage, not to mention two botched engagements which have marked his jaded soul. Now, after a debauched bachelor party that causes public outcry, the Prince Regent is demanding that it’s Candover’s turn to be brought to heel. And Prinny secretly believes that Isabellee Tremont, the Duchess of March, is precisely the lady up to the challenge.

Isabellee must marry, but a day of reckoning with the man she’s loved for years is her greatest fear. If Candover insists she’s too young and innocent for a seasoned world-weary man like him, there’s no shortage of other candidates. Gentlemen of prestige and position. Gentlemen whose attentions are driving Candover to jealous distraction. Yet one abandoned moment under the stars hints that if they can put aside pride and duty, then a love once denied might just be their destiny.

This is the fourth book in the Royal Entourage series and although I have enjoyed each book in the so far, this one is my favorite. I love the relationship the hero and heroine have and enjoyed the romance.

Isabelle Tremont, Duchess of March, is a rare woman of rank; her father died three years ago and left her the duchy as there are no other heirs. She is part of the honorary Royal Entourage, a group of royal dukes that recently got into all types of trouble, on the Duke of Candover’s wedding eve they tore up the town leaving the people of the city furious and the Prince Regent trying to save face and getting the unmarried Dukes settled into domesticity.

James, the Duke of Candover has had two attempts at marriage and now he decides that he is in no hurry, but the Prince, sees things differently and has sent several messages to both Isabelle and James expressing their need to marry. Isabelle goes to James believing she will help both their plights and proposes, he declines. She is dejected but undaunted as she tries to find a solution to the Prince’s request.

The basis of this series is very entertaining, a play on the Hangover movie where the group spends an entire night rampaging around the city, getting roaring drunk, and causing havoc, they must deal with the aftermath and there are several extremely funny moments, especially when the Prince gets involved and sends notes with his thoughts and requests. The Prince is reeling from the public fallout of the evening of debauchery so is going one by one through the entourage and making sure they do the respectable thing and find a mate. In the first three books he has successfully found wonderful women for those troubled dukes and now he is trying to complete the process of taming the rest.

I really like Isabelle, she is warm and friendly even though she was brought up to be a duchess, yet she has always felt a bit unwanted, her father always wanted her to be a boy, her mother left the two when she was little, and she has been in love with James for years and although he suspects her feelings, he rejects her. You can just feel the emotions as the author captures this well. I also like her purpose; she is strong and goes about her task with determination. James is also very likable, he believes he is too old to be with Isabelle and although he enjoys her company he backs away often. He feels he is saving her from being stuck with an older man in their later years. I enjoy reading this trope, where the heroine is in love but the hero believes he is saving her from him, he just does not know what is good for him. The two together are combustible and they have this witty dialog that goes perfect with their relationship.

I so enjoyed seeing previous characters from the other books come and go with this story as they added so much, it is fun to see what each couple is doing and how their lives have changed, and I also enjoyed the new stories that were introduced such as the relationship between the Duke of Sussex and Amelia which is a very interesting sidebar, and the utterly entertaining Calliope who does her best to make a situation worse or at times better, depending on what side of the fence you are on. Although this is the fourth book in the series, it can be read easily as a standalone, the author does a great job on introducing you to the running story arc. A very enjoyable book to end a series.

I give The Once and Future Duchess by Sophia Nash 4.25 stars!

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