The Duke’s List (Men of the Squadron)

Andrea K.

Living most of her life in London among a world of artists of all types, Jane knows what she wants in a marriage, and it isn’t one where her only job is to produce an heir. When her father sets up a marriage between her and Cornelius, the Duke of Sidmouth, Jane is shockingly accused of being an unrepentant wanton and not at all a virgin on their honeymoon. Jane will not stand for this type of accusation but also recognizes that she is now a duchess, and a certain standard and decorum are required of her as such. Upon finding his duchess residing in the stable master’s cottage instead of the estate house, the duke must work through a list of Jane’s provocative demands for their marriage. Being the stuffy, straight-laced duke that he is, Cornelius must let go of his stubborn pride to show his bride just how much passion he can exude.

Stein’s novella is quite beguiling from beginning to end. While the story takes its many twists and turns, one of its drawbacks is the intrusion of several characters without much backstory to them. Though the story was about Cornelius and Jane, many of the secondary characters are introduced and then all but disappear altogether which leaves a reader wondering what the point of the introduction is in the first place. Jane and Cornelius have such a passion and fire for each other from the very beginning that a longer version of their story would have been enthusiastically embraced. A lovely story of passion and desire!

Marie Sanderson