by Gaelen Foley
Ivy Books, December, 2000.
So far all of the men in the lovely Belinda Hamilton's life have miserably disappointed her. Her scholarly father's pride and ineptitude landed him in debtor's prison, and her on the street. After being raped and sold to the highest bidder, Bel has no choice but to enter the demimonde, where she quickly becomes London's most sought-after courtesan. The Duke of Hawkscliffe is determined to find out the truth about the murder of his ladylove, and is willing to sully his reputation by starting a liaison with a courtesan. He makes a deal with Bel which is strictly business, as the two set out to find a murderer. The pair soon fall madly in love. But a Duke must never marry his mistress; it would be the scandal of the decade.
The Duke is a very unusual historical romance. The heroine, Bel, has had the absolute worst that could happen to a girl of good family in 1814 England -- she was ruined in the eyes of polite society. After this shocking beginning, the storyline moves forward quickly as Bel determines to make the best life for herself that she can, given her circumstances. Gaelen Foley provides a backdrop of the horrible injustices of the aristocratic society of the time, which provided severe penalties to those who didn't measure up to the ton's high standards. Poverty among the lower classes was also rampant, as was child prostitution. Robert Knight, the Duke of Hawkscliffe is a man bent on vengeance and on reforming some of England's worst societal practices, and his romance with Bel is both moving and passionate. Gaelen Foley is a very talented author whose stories will keep you thinking long after you've finished the book.
The Duke is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the February, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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