Duke of Thorns by Sara Ramsey

Two impossible people – one a free spirited woman used to doing whatever she pleases, another a man used to controlling others either by tactical persuasion or by physical force. Two total opposites who are destined to find love despite all obstacles giving the reader the potential for an exciting romance.

That’s just what Sara Ramsey does in her most recent novel, Duke of Thorns, the first in a new series, Heiress Games. Lord Gavin Thorington depends on his luck to support his younger brothers and sisters, but the charm which had previously cursed him with fortune has now turned against him. Faced with three lost ships, failed crops, and gambling debts, Thorington must secure wealthy mates for his siblings before news of his ruin becomes common knowledge. If his young brother Anthony will accept the hand of the potential Briarley Heiress, then at least his future is secure. Off the entire family goes to the house party where one of three Briarley woman will be selected to inherit all. The determining factor is which bride-to-be selects the best (or most interesting) husband. Gavin is certain the brother of a Duke will triumph. Now, if only both of the affected parties will cooperate.

The obvious winner is Calista, the cousin from Baltimore. Gavin is instantly drawn to her independence and vitality, so unlike the other girls in society. Unfortunately, she is not schooled in the ways of the ton, so Thorington decides to become her “governess” and trains her in the essentials so she doesn’t ruin herself before her wedding day. Calista simply wants the stable home which Maidenstone Abbey will provide, as long as she can maintain the independence necessary to continue running her company. Thus, Thorington’s proposed arrangement is agreeable to her, as long as Anthony is cooperative.

As Gavin and Callie are thrown together, the chemistry they feel gets stronger, but their ultimate goals remain the same leaving a mutual romance impossible. Plus there’s the little issue of her sloop, Nero, which has turned privateer for the Americans in the War of 1812 conflict. The very ship which, ironically, has captured Thorington’s fleet and caused his financial demise.

A mess to be sure and this particular dilemma leads to a compelling Regency Romance.

Sara has made the characters come alive with witty banter and lively interactions. Even the minor characters are interesting. They should be, as many of them appeared in previous novels in the Muses of Mayfair series. These supporting players assist our hero and heroine in finding their voices, leading to a satisfying conclusion despite the numerous obstacles both must overcome. We, along with Callie, see the potential good side of the domineering Duke and root for Gavin’s heartfelt personality to triumph over Thorington’s manipulative manner, so the two lovers may forge a mutual relationship where their passion can be expressed.

A well done, thoroughly enjoyable novel with stimulating romantic interludes. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, Lord of Deceit, due out this Spring, Four and a half stars.

I would like to thank Netgalley for allowing me a free download of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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