When the Duke Was Wicked by Lorraine Heath

Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book is about the hero, Lovingdon. It opens with a journal entry from him and it closes with one too. It’s about how he learns to love again after the death of his wife and child, by showing Grace, the heroine, what it feels like to be loved. It’s also about Grace, who needs to learn how to love herself after a medical issue that has left her with deep insecurities and in fear that it may also take her future. It’s about grief and overcoming loss for both of them, but mostly it’s his story.

There is so much feeling in this book. Lovingdon and Grace have a long history that is already built on love and trust and this journey they take draws them together in ways neither expected. Grace already loved Lovingdon once before and finds herself wrapped up in him again, when her original goal was to pull him from his own grief. 

And Lovingdon…watching him transform was just the sweetest thing. Because in the beginning you have this sense that the future stretches out before him, seeming like an eternity in the worst of ways. As it would feel if you had to face another 50 or 60 years without the people you loved most by your side. And I don’t think Lovingdon had any clue how to get through it or even that he could. 

Then he goes and spends the entire book telling Grace how to know when a man loves her. His words are from the heart and are originally drawn from his memories with his wife. But overtime they become so much more. They become how he loves Grace. He doesn’t even realize what he’s doing and doesn’t even know how to love her or that he’s capable of it. But in these words, these lessons, he does tell her, bit by bit, piece by piece, exactly how he cherishes her. Every moment that his heart is reawakened he’s sharing it with her. It’s like he needed the excuse to open his heart again and once the smallest space is there Grace works her way in further and further until it’s burst open and there’s nothing left to do but let himself love her. 

And it is so bloody lovely. That is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s lovely. This book is full of soft touches and caresses and kisses and love scenes that are all written with their feelings at the center. Particularly for Lovingdon, who has the most heartfelt thoughts about Grace, who looks at her and kisses her with adoration, who heals through her courage and tenderness. 

The end is what has me rounding it up to 5 stars instead of down to 4. Lorraine Heath just gives us everything. It doesn’t end the moment Lovingdon say’s I love you. We’re given a wedding, which is not simply perfunctory, but purposeful and emotionally revealing. And we’re given a passionate wedding night full of love, something that I find is often missed in romance novels. The love scene after they’re both loving outloud.

But best of all, we’re given all the things that needed to be said. To see Lovingdon come to terms with loving someone he may lose is perfection. And seeing him say goodbye to his wife and child was bittersweet. And seeing their future and how his feelings continued to evolve over time through the epilogue was touching and wonderful. 

There are a few small reasons this book loses half a point. First, I don’t want to say I dislike Lorraine Heath’s writing style, so let’s just say that the story here is more beautiful than the way it’s written. It lacked a bit of poetry, if you know what I mean. Second, there were a couple passages with POV from a villain that had no impact on the book until the very end and I just wish it hadn’t gone there. I don’t like villains but I promise I’m being totally objective when I say that this book did not need it. There are better ways the end goal could have been accomplished that matched the beauty of this book. Third, Lovingdon didn’t focus much on his daughter and focused a bit too much on his dead wife. It wasn’t that I found it annoying but I think the pain of losing a child was a bit glossed over. 

Those are minor infractions, though. All in all a wonderful book that I highly recommend.

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