Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Series or Standalone: Love on Holiday #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
Duke Gone Rogue is a charming start to Christy Carlyle’s new Love on Holiday series! The romance between Maddie and Will, the Duke of Ashmore, was sweet with relatively no angst. While lower on the sexy scale, I still found myself really enjoying this one as it was just so stinking cute how much these two characters came to care for each other.
Will, the Duke of Ashmore, is trying to be the antithesis of his dishonest, scandalous father, which makes him a bit of a stick in the mud to be around. Following a broken engagement, his sisters suggest (well, actually force) a vacation on him out to their notorious and run-down estate Carnwyth in Cornwall, and Will reluctantly goes. Meanwhile, Madeline Ravenwood’s passion is for flowers and garden design, but she’s working hard to keep her family’s nursery afloat while Ravenwood’spreparing for Princess Beatrice’s visit to Haven Cove. As part of her preparation for the Princess’s visit, she needs to convince Will to restore the eyesore of Carnwyth, which he agrees to if she shows him Cornwall. As they spend more time together, they cannot imagine being apart but will their positions in life make that impossible?
From Will and Maddie’s first meeting, the chemistry was electric. The bulk of the story takes place over two weeks, and the reason the romance works so well is because these characters have a great connection. I loved that the romance wasn’t based solely on lust either. While there is an attraction between them, their romantic connection goes deeper than that. Both value and respect each other for who they are and what they care about. The romance is not super steamy, though we do get a sexy bathtub scene towards the end. The fact that the story was not so focused on sex actually helped the relationship feel incredibly genuine and heartwarming. The romance was also relatively low on the angst scale as Maddie and Will knew how to communicate with each other so well. Honestly, it was refreshing to see that in a historical romance.
Outside of the romance, our leads were also fantastic characters. I loved that Maddie was an independent woman, but it wasn’t an overtly in-your-face kind of independent. She’s incredibly hardworking and always willing to lend a hand – she’s earned the respect of her community and peers through her work and generosity. I appreciated that she worked hard to run her family business even though it wasn’t necessarily what she wanted to do with her life. She feels conflicted about her family business, but she is also determined to make it succeed to honor her parents’ legacy. Meanwhile, Will is trying to escape his father’s legacy and redeem the family title. While being a Duke might not be his passion, he’s determined to do right by the title and those who rely on him. He’s got a bit of a gruff exterior, particularly at first, but being in Haven Cove and with Maddie does a world of good for him. He loosens up and becomes more carefree throughout the novel. Watching him fall for Maddie was sweet as when he’s with her as I felt like you see the true Will, not the ducal persona he puts on in society.
The plot was relatively straightforward but incredibly cute. I’m a sucker for stories that take place in a charming seaside towns (hence why the Spindle Cove series is one of my all-time favorite series), and Haven Cove is utterly lovely. It’s an idyllic retreat that feels like an escape. The actions and consequences of society back in London feel like it can’t reach there. Even with the royal family visiting, it still feels like a world unto itself. I really hope we get to return to Haven Cove in future books in the series.
If you’re looking for a light, heartwarming romance, Duke Gone Rogue is perfect for you! This was the perfect change of pace from all the Immortals After Dark books I’ve been reading. I found myself closing this book with a smile on my face as it was so stinking cute, and I’m looking forward to checking out future books in the Love on Holiday series.
Thank you to Avon/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.