The Wicked Duke by Madeline Hunter (Wicked Trilogy #3)

The Wicked Duke by Madeline HunterAvailable: May 31, 2016 Amazon/B&N

Type: Historical Romance

Publisher: Jove

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

Suspected of his brother’s murder, Lancelot Hemingford, Duke of Aylesbury, was forced to give up his hell-raising habits in London for the anonymity of quiet country living. So, when an opportunity arises to clear his name in exchange for proposing to the niece of a neighbor, he sees no choice but to accept. Plus, seducing the reluctant maiden will be a most intriguing challenge…

As Marianne Radley is dependent on her uncle, she must accept the Duke’s marriage proposal at her family’s request, despite her belief he is irredeemably wicked. But along with marrying him, she intends to sniff out the duke’s unsavory secrets and expose them to the world: a plan that would be flawless were it not for one minor detail—even she, with all her determination, is not immune to the charms of a rakish duke…

This is the third book in the trilogy that tells the tale of a murdered duke, three brothers who hated him and the accusations that point to one person, the oldest brother and current duke. I have been looking forward to Lance’s story and the conclusion of the mystery since the beginning.

Lancelot Heminford is the newest Duke of Aylesbury; he received that title after his oldest brother Percy mysteriously died. Lance was visiting at the time of his death and many view him as a suspect. Percy’s death was not mourned by many as he was not well liked in society and even more hated by his brothers. However because of the murder hanging over his head, Lance has spent the last nine months wallowing in the country keeping a low profile until something is decided. This is the perfect opportunity for his neighbor Sir Horace to blackmail him into a marriage with his niece, leaving Lance without much choice.

Marianne Radley has come back to the area on her uncle’s behalf. She brought along her mother and Uncle Horace’s daughter Nora who Marianne has been helping. Nora had a fall, along with some trauma several years ago and suffers when she is agitated around others, but her uncle wants her home. Uncle Horace believes Nora was harmed by Lance and wants revenge, he helps promote the idea but will prove his innocence if he marries Marianne, but when the two meet, sparks fly between them, marriage might not be such a bad idea, but first they must find the true killer.

A great ending to this trilogy, I enjoyed the mystery and the suspense throughout the series, as the brothers and their heroines come together to find the real culprit.

I like Lance, he has graciously lived a solitary life since his brother died in order to keep the peace, and his brothers help him by visiting and trying to find the killer. I like the brother’s relationship and enjoyed meeting them again with their wives. However Lance is tired of hiding out in the country, he is ready for this farce to be over and is delighted when he meets Marianne.

Marianne is a strong heroine; she champions Nora and is determined to find out who hurt her. She is willing to be under the roof of her uncle to help but is angry with him as he tries to force either Nora or herself to marry the duke for revenge. She also has a secret that is intriguing, if not surprising, which provides more proof of her strength. She is unprepared for her reaction when she meets Lance, but the chemistry ignites and their relationship takes off as the passion between them is apparent. I love how she is determined to find answers to help both Lance and Nora.

The pace works well, the beginning of the story is slower as we meet Marianne and the storyline is set up, but it quickly speeds up when Marianne and Lance agree to marry and the race is on to find the murderer or watch Lance get arrested. I enjoyed the story arc from the beginning, there is deception and danger as the murder mystery is ever present, I have been wondering who really killed Percy and why and was very surprised at the outcome. This is the third book in the series and although you could read it as a standalone, the enjoyment is reading the entire series to get the full effect of the long story arc, and the very satisfactory conclusion.

I give The Wicked Duke by Madeline Hunter 4 stars!

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