I have greatly enjoyed Lorraine Heath’s Once Upon a Dukedom series, starting with Scoundrel of My Heart and The Duchess Hunt. Book 3, Return of the Duke took a different route than the others with a mystery to solve, and I continued to greatly enjoy this steamy historical romance series.

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The summary, from Amazon:

In the thrilling third book in New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath’s Once Upon a Dukedom series, the dashing son of a disgraced duke teams up with a sultry beauty to thwart an assassination plot against Queen Victoria.


When his father, the Duke of Wolfford, is hanged for an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, Marcus Stanwick is stripped of everything. Vowing to return honor to his family, he seeks to expose the others involved in the treasonous plot and bring them to justice. His search forces him to turn to a woman he despises for her unforgiveable betrayal—a woman known as the heartless harlot.

Harboring secrets, Esme Lancaster has her own reasons for wanting to discover who’s behind the conspiracy that’s still afoot. She doesn’t trust Marcus but can’t deny the handsome devil makes her wonder if she does indeed possess a heart, one he could very easily steal.

As their hunt for the truth leads them into danger, Marcus finds Esme isn’t cold and calculating as he’d assumed but fire and brimstone, with courage and determination to match his own. Soon, they’re unable to deny their growing desire for each other. But giving into temptation comes at a cost, and they must decide if love is worth the risk of losing their one chance for redemption.

Buy The Return of the Duke here.

And don’t miss Book 1 in the series, Scoundrel of My Heart. Read my review here.
Or Book 2, The Duchess Hunt. Read my review here.

When Marcus’s father, the Duke of Wolfford, committed treason by plotting to kill Queen Victoria, he was executed and the family was stripped of their titles and assets. Marcus has lived a difficult life since, practically on the streets, while simultaneously working to uncover the full plot to kill Victoria in order to bring back honor to his family’s name. He approaches Esme, his father’s former mistress, to see if she has any information. Little does he know, Esme is something completely different than she appears.

I can’t give too much away without spoiling the twisted plot that throws Marcus and Esme together. The two eventually give in to their sexual and romantic attraction during their hunt to uncover who else is involved in the plot, lure them in, and put a stop to their potential treason. I will admit I found the plot to be a little convoluted at the end, but the romance between Marcus and Esme was strong. I loved that Esme was so kickass, sometimes saving the day or escaping a situation alongside Marcus, sometimes saving Marcus, and sometimes being saved when it came down to it. I also appreciated the representation of reproductive cancer and infertility in a woman and how it did not make her less worthy or less of a sexual being.

Overall, this was a fun read, perhaps the least strong in the series, but still very solid and a wonderful standalone. I rate it 4 stars and will be reading more by this author for sure.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Return of the Duke (Once Upon a Dukedom, #3)Return of the Duke by Lorraine Heath
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not my favorite in the series but Heath killed it again.

View all my reviews

Book Club Questions

  1. Explain the relationship dynamic between Marcus and Esme.
  2. Why are Marcus and Esme both hesitant to admit they love one another?
  3. Why is Marcus so set on restoring his family honor? Does a part of him doubt his father was truly a criminal?
@daily.manifestationx I love Lorraine Heath for a spicy historical romance 😍 #booktok #romancebooks #romancebooktok ♬ original sound – Marissa

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