Publication Date: April 26, 2022
Series or Standalone: Desperately Seeking Duke #3
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
All the Duke I Need took me by surprise in the best way! I went into this book with no expectations but found it so cute and ended up loving it by the end. The romance was adorable, and I loved how Caroline Linden brought all the pieces together to solve for the lost heir to the Carlyle dukedom that has been central to the plot of the Desperately Seeking Duke series.
Raised by her guardian, the Duchess of Carlyle, Philippa Kirkpatrick is one of the greatest heiresses in England, but she has little desire to leave the Carlyle estate for a season of husband-hunting in London. William Montclair is in London to expand his family’s trading firm, but he has no passion for that work. Impulsively, he takes a job managing the Carlyle estate but promises his brother he’ll do it for one year only. Philippa is shocked by the handsome, scandalous new steward, but is determined to help him win over the Duchess as she sees how much he cares for Carlyle as she does. Will is falling for everything about Carlyle, including Philippa, but he cannot stay beyond a year or risk upsetting his family.
I was pleasantly surprised by the romance in this one! While not the steamiest, I felt like it delivered on the emotions. I loved how Philippa and Will managed to get under each other’s skin. They needle each other in the best way to try to fight off their attraction, which, of course, means there is great banter. Linden did a great job building the sexual tension as I kept screaming at them to KISS ALREADY – it was the perfect balance of wanting them to get together and actually being together. The romance is relatively low angst in terms of drama. There is a bit of the “we cannot be together,” which is driven by her status and the temporary nature of his job. Overall, I found the romance incredibly sweet and endearing. I loved Will and Philippa together and was so glad they got their happy ending.
I also loved that Philippa is a mixed-race female lead. She’s half-Indian and half-English. While not related to the Duchess of Carlyle by birth, she’s treated as if she were the Duchess’s blood granddaughter. I loved how competent Philippa was – she was essentially running a huge Dukedom on her own and was respected and admired by the staff for her efforts. She also knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go get it – even when it comes to the nature of her own heart. She cares little about what society thinks and would instead do what she loves with the people she cares for then find a wealthy, noble husband.
Will was a really interesting male lead. While he “dressed like a pirate, he looked like a rake, and he sounded like a Frenchman,” there is more to Will than meets the eye. He intrigued me as he was so devoted to improving the Carlyle estate – and so GOOD at being the estate manager despite never being one. His commitment to his job and improving the lives of all on the Carlyle estate was admirable. He’s got a bit of a loveable rogue, and I enjoyed his personality as he was serious about his duties, but his personality was not too serious. He wasn’t afraid to be charming and playful. He brought out the best in others.
I correctly called that this book would tug at my heartstrings on page one, and it did by the end! We finally get to meet the Duke of Carlyle, whose at the center of the series yet rarely seen. Every scene with him broke my heart a little bit as he was a man struck down in his prime. He’s more perceptive and aware than anyone gives him credit for, but I also understood why Society would judge him harshly. Seeing the Duke also made me understand and sympathize with his mother, the Duchess of Carlyle, more. She can come off as a bit harsh, exacting and set in her ways, but she’s doing it to protect her son. She’s suffered SO MUCH heartache in her life, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure her last living son is happy.
And let’s talk about that ending! Ugh, my heart! The ending was both what I expected and not what I expected in the best possible way. I don’t want to get into any spoilers, but I loved how Linden made you assume one thing based on all the breadcrumbs of information she presented, but the end result was slightly different from expected. The ending packed a punch to the emotions and made me teary-eyed. I would love to get another book in the series as I feel like there is more to explore with the revelations at the end of the book.
All the Duke I Need is hands down my favorite book in the Desperately Seeking Duke series. The romance delivered and I loved how Linden brought all the pieces together to present such a beautiful and emotional ending! While this can be read as a standalone, the ending packs more of an emotional punch if you read the full series. Regardless, definitely pick this book up when it publishes!
Thank you to Avon/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.