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The Duke Smiles

Joy to the Duke Book Cover Joy to the Duke
(Love is All Around Book 3)
Darcy Burke
Historical Romance
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date 12 Nov 2019

Denied the woman of his dreams by his father’s meddling, Calder Stafford, has spent the last decade proving himself to be self-sufficient, austere, and utterly uninterested in joy. Now that he is the Duke of Hartwell, he’ll enact his revenge by abolishing the holiday traditions his father loved so well. His sisters will not sway him and neither will the woman—newly returned to town—who was stolen from him.

Returning to Hartwell to care for her mother, widow Felicity Garland is delighted to be back home, especially for the holidays. However, the jolly festivities she expects are nowhere to be found. When she goes to the source of the problem—the duke—she’s astonished to see how much the young man she once loved has hardened. It’s up to her to break through the impenetrable fortress around his heart—not just to save Christmas, but to save him.

As always a nice read from Darcy. We follow up Mr Grump from the previous novels and his love life and what happened with him and his father.

The storyline continues with orphans and women who need homes due to missing husbands for whatever reason and we have a type of Dickens Xmas novel without the ghosts of Christmas Past but lots of Actions of Father’s Past to replace it.

This book really just rounds up the story lines from the previous novels in the series without any more social commentary of the era – except a side of doctors bleeding people when they are very ill which really did no good at all. Doctors were basically, mostly, incompetent and a transmitter of diseases.

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Gifts keep coming

The Gift of the Marquess Book Cover The Gift of the Marquess
by Darcy Burke
Romance Historical
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date 15 Oct 2019

The Marchioness of Darlington wants nothing more than a houseful of children, but after three years of marriage Poppy has given up hope. When she learns her husband doesn’t share her sense of loss, Poppy tries to soothe her aching heart by helping at a local institution for single women and mothers. But the arrival of an expectant mother only reignites her longing, driving the wedge between her and Gabriel deeper. After losing his mother and sister in childbirth, Gabriel, the Marquess of Darlington, is secretly glad his wife hasn’t been able to conceive. He can’t bear the thought of losing her, not even to achieve their dream of having a family. Desperate to prove his love, Gabriel makes a shocking proposition. It’s a risk, but if he can overcome Poppy’s fears and hesitation, he can give her what she wants most for Christmas. From the USA Today bestselling author of The Untouchables comes a Christmas Regency series! Don't miss these holiday classics retold with love, passion, and heart. Book One: The Red Hot Earl Book Two: The Gift of the Marquess Book Three: Joy to the Duke

As always Darcy has managed to add in a social commentary to her Historical Romance series of novels.

In this book we consider the issues of illegitimacy; rape by aristocracy of housemaids and the inability of the maids to bring them to justice; poor laws and the dreadful houses for single women with children that separated them and failed to provide a means to earning a living; sterility when you need an heir and spare for the title; and finally childbirth and the dreadful rates of deaths in childbirth and of babies.

There were 3 main causes of childbirth death up till the 20th century.

1. Puerperal fever or Pyrexia – which was carried by doctors and midwives on their hands and clothes from one patient to anther due to lack of washing, disinfecting etc.

2. Placenta previa or separation of the placenta and thus haemorrhages.  If the uterus failed to contract after birth or there was some trauma, all of these could cause blood loss which they were unable to stop and of course, there were o transfusions then.

3. Eclampsia or pre-eclampsia.

In all, there were up to 25 deaths in childbirth for every 1000. And still births were not recorded so we have no knowledge of just how many babies were born and not named. It was the custom for many families not to name the child until it had lived for a week or even a month. And thus a death would not be officially recorded.

It was no wonder then, that people feared childbirth… I know I would have died in childbirth if I had lived then and so would my son.

All the above not withstanding, it was a well crafted story with a nice romance and good story-telling. I enjoy her books and they do tend to make me think about the social inequalities and other social issues, which is a good thing, and makes these stories just that little bit more.

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Social commentary and Romance

The Red Hot Earl Book Cover The Red Hot Earl
Love is All Around Book #1
by Darcy Burke
Romance, Historical
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date 24 Sep 2019

The Earl of Buckleigh was once an untitled misfit, tormented at Oxford. Now, he’s overcome his challenges and is eager for the future, especially when his oldest and dearest friend, Bianca, needs help to save the annual holiday party. Ash has a plan to rescue the event, but when the bullies from his youth are up to their old tricks, he must risk everything to put the past behind him and find true love. Furious when her brother refuses to host the St. Stephen’s Day party, Lady Bianca Stafford is committed to giving the villagers their celebration. In Ash, she sees salvation for their local tradition, and perhaps a future she never expected. But her brother has other plans for her—a Season and marriage, and not to Ash. When disaster strikes, everything she cares about is threatened and it will take a miracle—or a hero—to save the day. The Red Hot Earl is inspired by the song and story, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The thing I like about Darcy Burke is that in each book she explores an aspect of society apart from the whole historical romance and women’s lib in the 1800s.

This book looks at the problem of people having Tourette’s when it wasn’t realised to be a medical syndrome.

Tourettes is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. The disorder is named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the pioneering French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition.

Before  this time it was thought to be a ‘problem that could be cured by [harsh] treatment and was voluntary on the part of the sufferer. Of course, the more people tied to ‘cure’ it, the worse the syndrome became as stress aggravates, as with stuttering and so on.

So we found here in the Earl in question.

The problem he also had was, although he didn’t know it, but suspected, he had a 50% chance of passing the syndrome on to his children. So add that to a nice Regency romance and you get a book worth reading.

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A Duke – that’s new

Never Have I Ever With a Duke Book Cover Never Have I Ever With a Duke
Spitfire society no.1
by Darcy Burke
Romance
Darcy E Burke Publishing
Pub Date 27 Aug 2019

Graham Kinsley is shocked when he inherits a debt-ridden dukedom, and now he has just one month to repay a loan. He needs an heiress—or find a way to recoup the former duke’s losses. When he meets the alluring Arabella, he’s entranced. Unfortunately, she’s as bankrupt as he is, but if they work together they may be able to recover their fortunes. Though if they keep stealing kisses, they may lose their hearts instead.

Arabella Stoke can’t afford an attraction to the penniless duke who has vowed to help rescue her family from financial devastation. She needs to find a wealthy husband before her father succumbs to the stress of losing everything. However, as Graham brings them closer to finding the swindler who stole their money, the war between what they want and what they need may ruin them both.

This was a well written, interesting story based around the early version of a pyramid scheme. You encourage someone to invest with you a small amount, give a great return, then you obtain bigger and bigger amounts as the returns peter out.

Meantime, these investments fund the next mug investor’s return.

In a time when there are no computers. Few detectives or police, scattered newspapers, and very little formal money management (but lots of gossip about the great amounts to be made in trade, furs, gold etc in the coffee shops of the era), this type of scheme is easy to concoct. Employ a 3rd party as the intermediary and you are well hidden. Until someone figures out your scheme and plays detective.

All layered on top of a Regency Romance.

Nice.

Darcy Burke does this. She takes a social issue and weaves it into her story, from poverty, to female emancipation, to education. It gives the stories that bit extra.

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Tempt who?

One Night of Temptation Book Cover One Night of Temptation
Wicked Dukes Club
by Darcy Burke
historical romance,
Darcy Burke Publishing
Pub Date: 25 Jun 2019

Faced with a marriage she can’t abide, Lady Penelope Wakefield takes drastic measures to preserve her freedom. Her brilliant plan is foolproof until a sexy but imperious rector “rescues” her.

Rector Hugh Tarleton has no patience for the Society philanthropists who seek to bestow their pity—and not much else—on his oppressed flock in one of London’s worst neighborhoods. When the daughter of a marquess is kidnapped and brought to the rookery, he vows to protect her, but the temptation to surrender to their mutual desire will certainly ruin them both.

For me this story lacked oomph. The heroine was rather weak and lacked personality and anything much to recommend her.  Thus there was little to the story – she didn’t want to marry the nasty piece of lecher her parents had picked out for her. So she attempted to get herself kidnapped. And that was it. She met a nice rector and….

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