A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied…
Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?
Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?
For a Christmasy, Regency romance this one ticks all the boxes; a cute childhood friends to lovers story, a dilemma to solve before reputations are ruined, and the reuniting of old friends and lots of humorous shenanigans.
Daphne and Paul's relationship is bittersweet with neither of the pair realising how significant their interactions were to each other as they were growing up. In adulthood the chemistry between them is strong and I loved how much humour was thrown into their banter and their late night adventures. It offered a nice balance to the poignancy of their shared grief.
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