I may be a man, and not just a man, but a blue-collar, construction-working man, but even I sometimes pack an historical romance in my lunch pail and sneak off somewhere private during my lunch hour so I can enjoy my turkey-avocado sandwich while reading the latest Victorian bodice-ripper from the breathless, heated pen of Leslie Lafoy.
"The Duke's Proposal" finishes the trilogy of novels detailing the life and loves of Caroline, Simone and Fiona, the three illegitimate daughters of Geoffrey Turnbridge, the fifth Duke of Ryland. I am the second son of Ma. Caroline and Simone's stories are chronicled in "Her Scandalous Marriage" and "The Rogue's Bride", respectively, both of which I enjoyed immensely, and now the Lady Fiona Turnbridge must consider her future as she too becomes entangled with a wealthy, handsome gentleman of means. I once got entangled in some electrical cable. The other guys were mean, and certainly not gentlemen.
The young gentlemen of the novel consider Lady Fiona Turnbridge eccentric and unmarriageable, despite her fair looks, green eyes, and large dowry. Fiona seeks happiness elsewhere, studying medicine and caring for sick animals, leaving her content if not entirely fulfilled, like a jelly donut.
One night Fiona finds her beloved cat severely injured and shows up at the doorstep of the tall, dark, and handsome Lord Ian Cabott, Duke of Dunsford and former military surgeon, for help. Ian, himself something of an outcast from his peers, and despite Fiona's arming herself with a pistol, spends the night with her saving her cat. Ian sees qualities in Fiona that mirror his, and furthermore realizes the practical benefits of having her in the home to assist in the rehabilitation of his sickly ward Charlotte. Ian makes a marriage proposal to Fiona, who, to his surprise, turns him down. Now Ian has to convince Fiona of his honorable intentions, but she will require much more before she can agree to his proposal. My wife eventually agreed to my proposal after many, many years of begging, so I can relate.
Leslie Lafoy has again written a thrilling romance between two very strong, independent-minded characters who challenge and frustrate each other, making their final union all the more satisfying. I may be a rugged man, work with power tools, and wear a hard hat, but by the end of the novel, I too was hoping, with a quavering heart, that Fiona would finally accept, dare I say it, the Duke's proposal.