Publication Date: December 3, 2014
In The Duke’s Offer by Felicity Goforth, Charlotte Barton is a spinster caring for her father who has earned a fortune in pottery. When Charles Randall rides into the country to tell her that her father is ill, he doesn’t anticipate the interest of his cash-strapped brother, the Duke of Walmer. With growing affection toward Charlotte, will Charles expose his brother’s true motives? Can Charlotte turn down the offer of a Duke?
The author, Felicity Goforth, gave me a copy of this novella in exchange for my review.
The Duke’s Offer is a sweet and light story set in a time when marriage was practical and a duke asking for the hand of a woman below his station was a fairy tale. Goforth presents a straightforward tale of a woman with good sense and a solid ability to observe the world. The woman is presented with a proposal and everyone views her as having freedom of choice. Is she really able to choose? There is a sick parent to consider. What a boon to the Bartonware business as they launch high-end decorative pottery pieces to have the aristocracy in the family.
The formality of Goforth’s narrative style doesn’t hide the emotional depths of her main character. Charlotte is deeply insecure while well aware of her virtues. She’s the plain Jane of the province, but happy to stay with her beloved father as she’s viewed their alliance as the two of them against the world since her mother’s passing. At 28 years old, she and society consider herself well on the shelf. Charlotte is an every woman to act as a touchstone for every woman reading the novella today.
Charles, contrary to the stereotype of historical romance, is moderately handsome but not a man one would excuse from trekking mud into one’s sitting room. What unfolds in the fullness of the story is a man who is perhaps a bit too trusting of the motives of others and who is willing to clean up the messes of an irresponsible and slightly lascivious older brother. His generally sweet nature rises from the page and causes the reader to smile. I don’t want to mess up my bed with him, but I can see why Charlotte might and because I like her I really want it to work. Suddenly the brilliance of Goforth’s approach is revealed.
The Duke’s Offer is a deliciously light bite of fiction. There are no baddies twirling their mustaches. There are no kidnapped Nell Fenwick’s secured to train tracks and waiting to be saved. The antagonist is perhaps as much the class system as the privileged young lord looking to secure a financial future so that he could continue behaving irresponsibly all the while in love with another woman. Told from a different angle, The Duke’s Offer could have been a very different romance indeed.
I highly recommend The Duke’s Offer for anyone looking for a short, sweet, historical romance. Read an excerpt and buy The Duke’s Offer by Felicity Goforth on