Nicholas Lyon gambled his way into a fortune and ownership of the most opulent, notorious gentlemen’s club in England. But when Nick’s cruel brother dies, he inherits a title he never wanted. The sooner Nick is rid of the estate that has always haunted him, the sooner he can return to the life he’s built in London. But there’s one obstacle—the exquisite Thomasina Thorne.
When the new heir to the Tremayne dukedom suddenly appears in Mina Thorne’s life, she’s flustered. Not only is he breathtakingly handsome, but he’s also determined to take away her home and position as steward of the Enderley estate. If Mina learns what makes the enigmatic duke tick, perhaps she can change his mind—as long as she doesn’t get too close to him.
With each day Nick spends with Mina, his resolve weakens as their colliding wills lead to explosive desire. Could she be the one woman who can help him finally bury the ghosts of his past?
A Duke Changes Everything is the first book in Christy Carlyle’s new series set in the early Victorian Era. It features a reluctant duke who happens to own a successful London gaming club – seriously, nineteenth century London – the historical romance edition – not only has about a million more dukes than could feasibly exist, but it seems the entire city consists of gambling establishments owned by aristocrats. It’s become such an over-used character type that my eyes are starting to glaze over whenever I read a synopsis in which the words ‘duke’ (or earl) and ‘gambling club’ appear in the same sentence.
Anyway. This particular duke has absolutely no interest in being one. Nicholas Lyons is the second son of the Duke of Tremayne, who, from the sound of it, was completely insane. Believing Nick to have been the product of his wife’s infidelity, the old duke hated his younger son and subjected him to unbelievable cruelty before the duchess was able to get them both away to France. When she died, Nick was just sixteen and he returned to England penniless, determined to make his own way and wanting nothing whatsoever to do with his family. After his father died, the title passed to Nick’s older brother, Eustace – and it’s the latter’s recent death that sees Nick now saddled with a dukedom and attendant duties and estates he doesn’t need or want. His memories of Enderley Castle are far from happy ones, and so naturally, the last thing he wants is to set foot in the place, but he knows he’ll have to if he’s going to carry out his plan of selling everything of value, setting the place to rights and then leasing it out.
Mina Thorne has lived at Enderley her entire life, and seeing the previous duke took no interest in the place, took over her late father’s role as steward. She’s highly competent and genuinely cares for the land and its inhabitants, although naturally the local gentry shake their heads disapprovingly and insist it isn’t proper for her to hold such a position.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.