Denying the Duke
Four years ago, Alex, a second son, had planned a life together with Lady Patience. However, when Patience was betrothed to his brother, the heir, Alex left his family's estate and joined the military.
Alex returns to assume the title Duke of Bedford when his brother unexpectedly dies. He is unprepared for both his new responsibilities and the reunion with Patience. The horrors of war are a heavy burden, and when he learns that Patience never married his brother, he is stunned.
Patience withstood the bullying of her fiancÚ and her father for four long years. She refuses to marry Alex just because he's the duke, especially if he no longer loves her. How would that be better than what she has already endured? Promises made in their youth are not enough to overcome the changes life has wrought for them but love can grow and transform, if only Patience could believe that.
Each book in the Lords and Ladies in Love series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
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Heartbreaking and heartwarming, their passion making their connection absolute!
Alex was the ‘spare’ son, second in line to his family’s Dukedom, looked over by society and his family, tormented by his bully of an older brother, Cyrus, they could not be more chalk and cheese. Just as disheartening as his brother, were his parents. Cold and distant, they spared no time for the second son, and no affection either. All in all his home life was pretty miserable.
A glimmer of hope for future happiness though appeared when Patience and her family came to visit. He and Patience shared an immediate connection, gravitating towards each other, spending all their time together. Even though it was a whirlwind romance, they declared their love and pledged to wait for each other till Patience was older and Alex was settled in a career. Fate, however, stepped in and Patience found herself being betrothed to cruel Cyrus. Devastated, Patience resisted, but the handshake agreement was done and dusted, her father leaving her in no uncertain terms what her fate would be if she refused. Right here I should give a trigger warning. The treatment Patience receives at the all too often harsh hand of her father is distressing but it is an integral part of her character growth and inner strength.
Unable to accept that his future had been ripped out of his hands and heart, Alex flees the family estate and purchases a commission in the military, knowing that there is no way he can stop the marriage between Cyrus and Patience without scandalous consequences. Over the next four years he endeavours to forget Patience, dedicating himself to serving his country and putting as much distance, physically and mentally between his memories and his present moment. Oh how I felt for Patience and Alex. Their story was heartbreaking. The abuse that Patience suffered at the hand of her father, the cruel twist of fate when she was betrothed to the Cyrus, and the persistent years of bullying and abuse at the hand of both her father and Cyrus till Alex’s return, just cemented how resilient and strong Patience was. She withstood four years of coercion to become Cyrus’ wife, and it was only after his death that she had found a reprieve.
Returning to assume his role as the new Duke of Travistock, to say Alex is shocked to discover that his brother and Patience never married, would be an understatement. As he discovers just what Patience has suffered, anger slices through him, and regret and pain wash over him that he was not there to protect her and save her from it all. Alex was still deeply in love with Patience, but he was a changed man, suffering from the effects of war, the bloody images invading his nightmares and convincing him that he could not possibly allow Patience to be subjected to his PTSD ongoing, that she deserved better. When her father tries to bully him into marrying Patience he pushes back, but when Alex realises he will just sell her off to the highest bidder, Alex does the honourable thing and steps in and offers her marriage. What he didn’t count on was Patience’s initial resistance to his idea and her reasons for that. Her independence borne out of years of having to stand up for herself, her safety and wellbeing, her years of abuse and bullying making her more determined to live her life on her own terms. She didn’t want Alex to feel indebted to her, she wanted him to love her, and, as she sees more of war-hardened Alex, she is not sure that he does.
Both of these characters had suffered mentally and physically since their first innocent kiss, both searching for some peace and to put the bad memories of the last four years to rest. I admired Patience’s tenacity and determination to marry on her own terms. She wanted Alex but she needed him all in, fully committed to their relationship. She also had to come to terms with her feelings about the man that had returned from war. Could she give him what he now needed, could she love him with all his scars? Of course she could, and her perceptiveness regarding helping