A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby is an excellent start to Vanessa Riley’s Rogues and Remarkable Women series. I have found Riley to be a consistently good writer with strong heroes and heroines and their remarkable stories with complex bits of history that I never knew about. I loved her previous Advertisements for Love series, and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing how this new series progresses.
Patience Jordan is an Afro-Caribbean heiress from the West Indies. When her English husband dies mysteriously, Patience tries to make enquires about the cause of his death, and before she knows it, her son has been kidnapped and she has been stripped of her home and fortune and clapped into Bedlam. She is at her wit’s end with sorrow and worry over her infant son. All she wants to do is rescue him and return to the West Indies.
The Widow’s Grace is a secret society that helps widows down on their luck return to their former status, find their families, and perhaps even find true love. The society helps Patience to hire on as her son’s nurse in the ducal household of his guardian, all unbeknownst to him.
Busick Strathmore, the Duke of Repington, is used to commanding people and their respect, as a duke and in combat. He wears the mantle of power and influence lightly but comfortably. So he is perplexed to be at daggers drawn with his ward’s nurse.
One thing to note is that the book is in first person from Jordan’s point-of-view and in third person from Repington’s. Riley’s choice to write it this way is brilliant. You get to understand Patience’s world from her eyes — her fears, her struggles, her desperation — and there’s an immediacy to and an intimacy with her thoughts, feelings and actions. For Repington, the third person allows him to initially distance himself from his war injuries and the life he now has to lead as an amputee in the rarefied aristocratic world that admits no blemishes.
With Patience’s encouragement and support, Repington embarks on a life of strength and vigor, not allowing his injuries to hamper him. Repington’s belief in her and his respect for her allows Patience to come into her own and stand firmly against patriarchy and racism and society at large. Thus, their relationship allows each to be much more than they were before — there is a balance of power in their relationship.
In addition to the deeply emotional story of the protagonists, gothic touches and a mystery keep the plot moving smartly through this book. A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby is a book to savor.