The second book in Allen’s Regency shape-shifter series is, like
the first, an enjoyable combination of subgenres, fully devoted to the tropes of both. The book moves effortlessly between paranormal lingo and Regency touches; the dialogue is clever and funny.
to read a Squee review from
An excerpt from A Most Unusual Duke
Volume two in this paranormal Regency romance series starts off with a wedding-of-convenience: despite her intention to refuse to engage in the marriage forced upon her George, Prince of Wales, Beatrice changes course quickly in the face of Arthur's goading...
“We shall break our fast in here going forward,” Arthur pronounced as he speared up another rasher of bacon directly from the platter.
“Not our new duchess!” Conlon dropped his serving forks in dismay.
“We’ve not the staff for to-ing and fro-ing between here and the morning room or whatever it’s called.” He knew very well it was called the morning room. He would not ask his aged staff to traverse the tangle of halls to get to said room, nor would he countenance cold food. Madam would like it or lump it.
“If she’s that high in the instep she’ll find it hard going indeed,” he grumbled as the staff took to their feet upon Madam’s entrance. She raised her brows at the sight of the rasher on his fork; he stuffed it into his mouth. Conlon pulled out her chair, and she sat with the decorum of a queen on her throne.
Arthur sat back and crossed his arms over his chest, for which he received a lingering gaze on his forearms. This was so unexpected he looked down to see what had caught her eye. It was not his coat, for he wore none; her gaze was likely a subtle dig at his disheveled state.
“I have always thought it a pity that more time was not spent around the chief hearth,” Madam said as Ciara set a cup down at her place; she then thanked Conlon for the plate of toast and eggs he had, against expectation, dished up with speed. “Although we would not like to interfere with Mrs. Porter’s domain.”
“It’s her domain under your sufferance,” Morag began.
Arthur cut her off. “Mind your tongue, woman.”
“Your Grace,” said Madam, as she spread jam on her toast. There was a world of censure in the invocation of his title. The things the woman could do with her tone and an eyebrow. If he was being honest, it was quite intriguing. An unfamiliar shudder ran through his being, his bear stirring, perhaps.
“Madam?” He stabbed another rasher with his fork and watched her watch him take a bite, like a heathen.
“We shall address one another with respect, if you please.” Morag made a face. “All of us, Morag.”
“Fair enough, ma’am.” The scaldy hen beamed. She always enjoyed being set down after having pushed her luck.
“I for one look forward to taking my meals here, with the appropriate manners exhibited by each and every one of us.” Madam took a bite of her toast and hummed with pleasure.
Arthur set his skewered rasher down on his plate. “As I was only saying myself, Madam, it is for the best. I think only of your comfort.”
“Do you?” She took a bite of eggs, and Arthur sensed he’d put his leg in a trap. “That is wonderful. For comfort is at the forefront of my mind this morning.”
“Do tell.” He braced himself for a litany of complaints.
“I am so impressed with the bedding.” Oh dear, did Madam want to go down that route? Arthur leaned forward in his chair and folded his arms on the table. A wash of pink appeared at the very top of her cheeks, as delicate as the first blush of dawn as her gaze fell once more to his arms, but she soldiered on. “It is apparent that this house has been maintained with immaculate care.” She took another sip of her tea, cool as a breeze, and yet her little finger trembled. Arthur reached out for the teapot and warmed up her brew. The urge to grin at her was almost too much to fight. He hadn’t grinned in an age.
“I suggest we dine as a household as well,” she said as she added a drop of cream to her cup.
Arthur scoffed. “There is a perfectly good dining room set aside for the evening meal.”
“Set aside it is, on the other side of the hall.” Morag held low opinions about the layout of the place and never failed to voice them.
“Of course, I have yet to familiarize myself with the house.” Madam set her knife and fork down delicately. “I intend to do so, top to bottom, and suspect there is much to be seen to.”
“A lick of cloth to master the cobwebs and it is done.” The servants gaped at him in disbelief; Madam sailed on as if he had not spoken.
“Once I have gone through,” she continued, “I will determine if revising the use and function of several rooms is in the best interest of the household. There is none to say nay.”
“Is there not?” As deeply as he revered Shakespeare, teasing Madam was more diverting than watching a wire dancer traverse the Pit in Haymarket.
“I shall do everything in my power to return Arcadia to its former glory.” A palpable thrill ran through Arthur’s being at her words. “It is my duty. I am the lady of this house.”
Madam rose and swept out of the room.