The Lost Duke of Wyndham is paired with Mr. Cavendish, I Presume, to be published in
the fall of 2008, and the two books approach the same story and events from different characters' views. When highwayman Jack Audley is recognized by an old lady
- apparently he is the image of her dead son - he finds himself drawn into an extraordinary situation. If Jack's parents were married, then he, not Thomas Cavendish, is the Duke of Wyndham. Thomas has grown up knowing that he will be Duke and has carried out that role for ten years since the death of his father; he even has an engagement arranged years before to a suitable wife.
Jack doesn't want to be a duke. For a start, he's not trained to the position, doesn't think he has the skills, and it's clear that Thomas makes an excellent duke. However, as the household travel to Ireland to consult parish records, Jack finds yet another reason not to want to be the duke. His grandmother's companion, the lovely Grace Eversleigh, might be willing to marry Mr. Cavendish, but she knows she's not good enough to be a duchess.
The Lost Duke of Wyndham is an interesting book
that starts particularly well. However, it loses its way somewhat about halfway through, and the second half doesn't live up to the promise of the first. The Dowager Duchess of Wyndham feels too much like a pantomime portrayal of a sour old woman, the romance between Grace and Jack doesn't quite convince, and the scenes with Thomas often felt incomplete (presumably they are explored further in the next book). The resolution seems too facile to this reader, and I
wasn't entirely convinced by the emotions and behavior of many of the characters. It almost feels like a farce toward the end, with various characters traveling across Ireland and being rude to each other.
Despite these criticisms, The Lost Duke of Wyndham is still a reasonable book as long as the reader isn't looking for historical accuracy. Julia Quinn has a lively way with dialogue and it's an easy read, which will no doubt appeal to fans of her other books.