Charles de Lacey, Earl of Gresham, has grown up knowing his duty is to be the duke one day and when someone threatens his families claim to the title, he sets about to find out the truth. Surely is moral, uptight father wasn't married before his own mother, therefore disclaiming Charlie and his brothers? After all, his father prevented Charlie from marry a 'nobody' and it changed his relationship with him forever. He turned into a scoundrel and enjoyed life and left the estate running to his brother and almost disregarded his fathers claims but his brothers force him to take charge of his own life. After all, it is Charlie's dukedom, not theirs. Upon his travels to meet the man that mailed the blackmail letters, he meets a most intriguing young lady, Tessa Neville. When it becomes clear that Tessa knows the supposed blackmailer, he befriends her and follows her about the countryside to meet this man and determine if Tessa is in any way involved. But Tessa slowly slides her way into every aspect of Charlie's life, leaving him wanting her forever but Tessa, just a common young woman, knows that she will never be good enough to be a duchess. Can Charlie discover the truth about his father's past and at the same time, finally find some peace and happiness he has longed for with Tessa?
Finally, the long awaited conclusion to the Durham Dilemma! I was very pleased with how the whole mystery aspect turned out. It had a couple little twists that I wasn't expecting (well, I didn't know what to expect truthfully lol) and I also liked that it was not an over-the-top conclusion. I enjoyed watching the romance bloom between Charlie and Tessa. Tessa was so much fun to read--she is smart (she is investigating whether to invest in a new canal system being built), strong, confident and not afraid to speak her mind. This is a bit of an amusement to Charlie since everyone always treats him with a bit of reverence due to a future duke. Tessa stands up to him but also relies on him when help is needed. I also liked Charlie's back story and watching him transform from a scoundrel to a man deeply in love and doing whatever it takes to win her heart. Overall, a very solid conclusion to a very enjoyable series. I was a bit bogged down by the telling of inner thoughts versus showing more of those thoughts through more conversation, which I personally just prefer more of. However, Caroline Linden has made me a fan of hers through this series and I look forward to what she comes up with next! Recommended for fans of strong, intelligent heroines paired with a hero who is bent on finding the truth and stumbles headlong into love mixed with a mystery that will keep you guessing. 4 stars
eARC provided by Avon via edelweiss.com
**This book is part of Avon's K.I.S.S. and teal program that helps raise awareness for ovarian cancer. For more info please visit this site. (which is outdated as I post this but I will check back soon to update link)**
The Truth About the Duke series
Best enjoyed in order, but could be read as a standalone since the scandal is explained in each