Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Gabriel Duke makes his money buying estates then flipping them for a profit and his newest acquisition next to the Lady Penelope Campion is sure to make him a mint. Social climbers would love to say that they live next door to a Lady, but possibly not this Lady, a wallflower that takes in strays in need of a good home.
Penny is given an ultimatum, emerge out onto society and get rid of her furry charges or admit defeat and live with her brother a spinster. She believes she can remain alone even without her animals so she enlists Gabriel Duke’s help to find new homes for them since he’s eager for the furry creatures to leave as well. With a stolen kiss with Penny doing the stealing, their agreement has gotten more complicated. Gabriel is not a beast that Penny can tame, but she likes the challenge.
There’s something about the heroes in the Girl Meets Duke series, they’re gruff and grumpy without falling into the whole borderline abusive territory that some historicals go. I get that some people are into pushy/grumpy/bully type heroes, but I think it can go too far at times. You can be stern without being a jackass, to be frank.
Just like the other stories the chemistry and banter between Gabriel and Penny was perfection! All the heroines are slight outcasts and Penny is an animal lover with a heart of gold and a dark past. (CW: Penny’s backstory includes grooming and abuse from a family friend in the past. It’s revealed roughly around 3/4 into the book.) The story is really heartbreaking but the way that Penny handled the trauma and become the beautiful soul that she is in the book is so inspiring, especially at a time where things like this likely did happen and the girls were too scared to speak up in fear of being ruined to society.
I can’t praise this series enough. If you’re looking to get into Tessa Dare books, this is the perfect series to start. It is perfection! I can’t wait for the final book.