I had a familiar feeling of joy after finishing this book. Erin Knightley has proven to me time and time again that she is a brilliant romance writer. The Duke Can Go to the Devil is the third book in Knightley’s Prelude to a Kiss series. The first three books follow a trio of women who are performing in Bath for the first annual music festival.
The Duke of Radcliffe in the festival’s beneficiary, and to his utter dismay, he must attend the last week of the festival to handle some personal family matters. At a celebratory birthday for him, he first glimpses Mei-li Bradford. She has quite an unusual instrument to be playing, and what he hears is (in his mind) would make Mozart turn over in his grave. Because of this, Radcliffe loses all interest in her since he is very traditional. Exasperated from all the marriage seeking women, he escapes outside for a bit of peace. Then Mei-li walks out the same door and disturbs his respite.
Mei-li (May) is very well traveled since her father is a ship captain. Sadly, her mother passed away a year prior and her father left her to stay with her uptight aunt. May is just counting down the days until her father’s return so that she can get back to the ship and travel with him. She is very unconventional and doesn’t care what society thinks. Her aunt however, is all about propriety and is constantly vexed by May’s behavior and dress. At the Duke’s party, May tries to escape from her aunt for a bit and goes outside.
Radcliffe, thinking May came outside after him like any other marriage minded female, is downright rude to her and accuses her of machinations against him. May becomes affronted and attacks back at him for being rude. And thus starts a battle of wills between the two. They are complete opposites in every way imaginable, and their ideals conflict constantly. However, despite their differences, they have an unmistakable attraction to each other.
This is a good opposites attract story. The two main characters just pin the other as rivals and try to thwart the other at every turn. I found the back and forth to be amusing, and then I loved how those things that originally drove them nuts became what they loved the most about each other. I would rate the romance to be about PG-13. It has all of Knightley’s customary style, a sweet romance with a little bit of spice!
**ARC copy provided by Publisher**