Release Day Review: A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley

A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley
Historical romance released by Zebra Books on June 30, 2020

The Duke, The Lady, and A Baby by Vanessa Riley book coverCreated by a shrewd countess, The Widow’s Grace is a secret society with a mission: to help ill-treated widows regain their status, their families, and even find true love again—or perhaps for the very first time . . .

When headstrong West Indian heiress Patience Jordan questioned her English husband’s mysterious suicide, she lost everything: her newborn son, Lionel, her fortune—and her freedom. Falsely imprisoned, she risks her life to be near her child—until The Widow’s Grace gets her hired as her own son’s nanny. But working for his unsuspecting new guardian, Busick Strathmore, Duke of Repington, has perils of its own. Especially when Patience discovers his military strictness belies an ex-rake of unswerving honor—and unexpected passion . . .

A wounded military hero, Busick is determined to resolve his dead cousin’s dangerous financial dealings for Lionel’s sake. But his investigation is a minor skirmish compared to dealing with the forthright, courageous, and alluring Patience. Somehow, she’s breaking his rules, and sweeping past his defenses. Soon, between formidable enemies and obstacles, they form a fragile trust—but will it be enough to save the future they long to dare together?

This was a lovely historical romance that does not take place in ballrooms or castles. Instead, the love interests are an officer who was injured fighting Napoleon and a widowed heiress with a baby to protect. There are also women circumventing the rules to make sure they stay safe. The conflicts are layered like a nesting doll, and somewhat spoiler-y, so I can’t fully describe them. Busick (the injured officer) is methodical, protective, and for a while, stuck in the idea of getting back to the war. Patience (the widowed heiress) is isolated by her dead husband’s choices and the secrets he kept from her. She’s impulsive and protective. They’re brought together by the need to protect the baby, who is never out of sight for long.

Busick shows up on a mission–to take control of the dukedom he’s inherited and make sure his cousin’s son is safe. He does this much the way one might go about establishing control of a hostile castle, complete with troops and kicking out the rebellious man who wants to set himself up as the rightful lord. Busick doesn’t ride in on a horse only because he has a leg injury that prevents him from doing so. However, we know he values order and schedules because he has his arrival timed down to the minute. Throughout the book, Busick spends time bonding with the baby, having occasionally comical one-sided conversations with him. He also spends time bonding with Patience; the sexy times don’t get going until well into the book. It takes almost as long for Busick to shift his world view and rethink how he wants to live his life. For example, Busick schedules regular crawling practice for the baby, even though the baby is only a few months old–not near typical crawling age. He comes up with a way to get back on his horse. Not just because he enjoys riding horses, but because if he can ride, he can convince the generals that he could go back to the battlefield. That was a bit frustrating, given how long he’d been injured when the book began, but people also don’t change overnight.

We meet Patience sneaking back into her own house in order to make sure her son is fed and well. This involves dressing like a man and escaping through a third floor window. Let me be clear, there is not a ladder involved in this escape–just ivy. She doesn’t like Busick very much at first, because of her experience with her dead husband’s “friend,” but she needs to be near Busick in order to make sure her son is safe and secure the means for her escape from England. These two things conflicted somewhat, because there were multiple ways of achieving both goals. At the beginning of the book, Patience is all for taking her son and leaving England–which is totally understandable because England has not been very good to her (see the falsely imprisoned part mentioned in the cover copy). By the end of the book, Patience makes a different choice. She seems caught between these two points–the urge to do what makes sense to her, balanced against the urging of others to do what would fall within the wiggle room allowed to women. It was interesting to see the author deal with how a woman would handle financial insecurity when she was stuck in England in the early nineteenth century and her family was more or less halfway across the world. The answer involves a lot of sneaking around and the help of other women.

My biggest issue was the author’s writing style. However, this is a personal thing, and something you can figure out for yourself by reading an excerpt before purchasing.

This is a romance with a diverse cast of characters helping each other through the world when the world isn’t very kind to them.

Grade: B

You can buy a copy here.

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