[Note from Frolic: This post is brought to you by our friends at Kensington. Looking for your next historical featuring a STEM protagonist? Look no further than Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries!]
Ah, dukes, you tempting minxes of the British peerage, how we adore you. From stuffy to wild, rakish to celibate, romances provide us countless takes on this classic archetype. Below, Hannah and Mazey, gleeful residents of romancelandia, round up their top five dukes.
Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries
The third book in Jeffries’ Duke Dynasty series chronicles Miss Oliva Norley and the Duke of Thornstock, also known as Thorn (and, yeah, Thorn can often be a prick but in that rakish way that I’m total trash for). Olivia is a bluestocking chemist, and we can’t help but to stan STEM Queens, and Thorn is a secret sensitive playwright, who often feels like his title as duke is more of a role and less of who he truly is. This book delivers delicious second-chance-romance goodness, with a touch of enemies to lovers vibe, and a plot revolving around a mystery that spans the series.
Thorn is a particularly delicious duke because of his countless contradictions. To the ton he’s a refined, haughty, rakehell, but, to Olivia, he learns to open himself up. He slowly discovers vulnerability, sensitivity, and greatly encourages Oliva to pursue her dreams in science. Is there anything better than a big strong duke being all like “I can’t ~love~” and then, spoiler alert, he totally falls in love.
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
The fourth book in Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series packs in so much glorious duke goodness. Griffin, the Duke of Halford, a rogue in all senses, is abducted by his mother and told he has to pick a lady to wed at “Spinster Cove.” To teach his meddling mama a lesson, he chooses Pauline, a struggling barmaid with dreams of opening a bookshop. She’s an unrefined, crass, quick-witted goddess that quickly sends the impenetrable Griffin to his damn knees, ya’ll. Long live the queen.
This book is funny, honest, raw, and is a beautiful portrayal of the different-sides-of-the-track trope. And, listen. LISTEN. This book has a scene that I can only describe as inconique. It involves a desk, some dirty talk, and an erotic knowledge of noble hiearchy. Please have a fire extinguisher available for your kindle.
A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole
Would any list of dukes be complete without #swordbae himself? Meet Tavish McKenzie, the grumpy silver fox blacksmith duke that doesn’t know he’s a duke. Duke By Default is the second book in Alyssa Cole’s beloved Reluctant Royals series. Portia Hobbs travels all the way to Scotland on a quest to leave mistakes and disappointments behind her. She gets an apprenticeship with a swordsmith and her attraction to her new boss is immediate. Tav is gruff, guarded, hot, and seems none too taken with his new apprentice. He just wants to keep running his armory and not have to mess with this posh American girl. Then Portia discovers that Tav is actually the secret son of a duke, and Tav has to decide how that newly discovered part of his heritage will fit into the life and identity he’s built.
Most of Tav’s charms are obvious—I mean, hello, he’s a blacksmith. Scratch that, he’s a swordsmith, and not only does he make swords, he knows how to wield one (insert juvenile snicker here). He collects books. He’s “gruff but vulnerable” and admits when he’s been an arse. He also spends a good amount of time examining what it means to have the power of Dukedom suddenly bestowed upon him and how to use that new power for good.
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Okay, I know—I KNOW—Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent is technically a viscount in this book, but my king becomes the Duke of Kingston in later books so I’m going to bend the rules of this article for the man that owns my heart and soul.
DIW chronicles the marriage of convenience between the extremely shy Evie Jenner and the shameless scoundrel Sebastian. Evie is fleeing a home life of abuse to take care of her dying father, and Sebastian agrees to marry her for the amount of wealth he stands to inherit. But when Evie, with what I can only imagine is unparalleled sexual restraint, brushes off Sebastian’s advances of passions, he does whatever it takes to prove himself to her, including staying celibate. What ensues is scorching sexual tension, hysterical banter, and a reformed rake that could melt even the hardest of hearts and the strongest of panties.
Worked Up by Tessa Bailey
This Duke has nothing to do with the ton. Duke Crawford is a blue collar man from New Jersey whose favorite pastime is watching ESPN. He’s become quite jaded about love after watching his four sisters get divorced. So when a children’s book illustrator stumbles into his favorite sports bar and manages to distract him from the game, he’s not quite sure what to think. But Samantha is in a tricky situation and there’s only one way out: a modern marriage of convenience to the gruff behemoth who seems to have decided his new purpose in life is to protect her and make her happy.
If heroes who act like alphas and are actually the biggest softies are your jam, Duke is for you. He is the grunting, growling man of your dreams that is completely dedicated to the comfort and satisfaction of his partner. Here is an actual quote: “His woman would get her satisfaction when, where, and how she needed it. Everyone else could deal.” This is a high-heat book with Tessa Bailey’s signature dirty talk. Duke might not be actual nobility, but he is a king when it comes to making sure his partner is taken care of.
Hannah calls her Bookstagram and Twitter accounts Hannah Hearts Romance because she really does—the angstier the better. She is a licensed therapist, Myers-Briggs nerd, and coffee semi-snob who is always looking for more books about the healing power of love and connection. She will also talk incessantly about horses, soccer, and Turk dizis with anyone who will listen (and even some who don’t).