The basic plot of A Duke to Die For is akin to that of Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck: a young woman finds herself the ward of a titled gentleman and ends up marrying him. Of course, there are many differences between the two books, not least
of which is the quality of writing and historical accuracy, but A Duke to Die For does have some moments of charm.
Henrietta Tweed believes
that she is under a curse. When her parents died, a woman told her that all her guardians
would die, and that seems to have happened. Her father left a list of six men who could be her guardian until she came of age; when she arrives at the house of the Duke of Blakewell, he's the last on the list, the others
all having died after becoming her guardian. However, this isn't the duke that her father knew
- it's his son, a handsome young man whose disorganized life is fairly rakish but mostly harmless.
Blake doesn't want a ward, particularly one as attractive and appealing as Henrietta. He doesn't believe in her curse, of course, but as he tries to find her a husband
- and as she helps him with his correspondence, his health and his fear of heights
- he begins to wonder if he can let her marry anyone else.
This is very much a simple plot, simply told, with minimal twists and turns, few disagreements among the characters, and the curse aspect resolved in a way which seems too easy. Historical accuracy isn't that good in terms of dialogue although some of the background information about ballooning
is interesting; that aspect isn't resolved here (two more planned novels about Blake's cousins may continue the theme). Although both Blake and Henrietta
are appealing characters, Blake's behavior as a guardian is pretty dodgy toward his ward, and her tumbling into love with him reaches a great depth very quickly.