The Duke and the Doxy
by Caroline Lee
‘Second Chance Manor’ has been a truly enjoyable series of stories written by 6 excellent authors of historical fiction. “The Duke and the Doxy” is the last book in the series and I don’t think anyone could have wrapped it up more perfectly than Caroline Lee has done. You can absolutely enjoy this story as a standalone. You’ll get even more out of it if you’ve read any of the other books that came before, simply because then you’ll appreciate how deftly the author manages to weave so many bits and pieces from the other stories into this one.
Raina is the daughter of a Scottish Earl, but when she gave birth to an illegitimate son, members of the aristocracy were horrified and have ostracized her. She is just as repulsed by them. Raina takes joy in her son and is a fiercely devoted mother. The former headmistress of the school for young ladies that she attended invites Raina and her best friends to a long summer house party. The former educator wants to give her unmarried former students a second chance to find husbands. Raina brings her son along because she has no interest in meeting anyone; she just wants to see her friends.
The Duke of Cashingham is a widower who has promised his young son that he’ll try to find a new wife. Although he hates socializing, he decides he’ll go to the house party being conducted at the estate next to his own. But he’s only going to go once a week to meet a few people and dance with prospective brides. Every week he becomes more and more disappointed because none of them suit him at all. Instead, the highlight of his summer becomes the outspoken and somewhat scandalous woman he encounters by the river on his property. Everything about the Scottish woman fascinates him, and he thinks her precocious son is great, too. Raina assumes Cash is merely a low-ranking gentleman. Cash thanks that’s wonderful. Interacting with Raina and her son liberates a part of his personality that no one else would ever recognize because it’s so different from his normal ‘Duke-ly’ behavior. He’s so enamored of her that he propositions her. When the truth is revealed about their real identities, Raina and Cash are both stunned and dismayed.
The adults bungle everything but the children are willing to go to great lengths to make their foolish parents see the light. This book is fun and funny. It’s full of witty dialogue and meaningful conversations. It manages to have sweet and silly shenanigans, and also be filled with romantic moments and steamy encounters. While orchestrating the lives of Raina and Cash and their sons, Caroline Lee also manages to seamlessly incorporate updates about the other characters featured in the series. I think reading this book is a lovely way to end the summer.