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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Forever and a Duke by Grace Burrowes

Forever and a Duke - Grace Burrowes
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“You seek to be silly?” Ellie did have a devious turn of mind, no need to take offense at the truth when the same quality kept a roof over her head.
His Grace's expression remained utterly serious. “Dukes are never silly.”
This duke was. “Good to know. Auditors are never frivolous.” Ellie shared a smile with Elsmore, which felt both silly and frivolous, also slightly dangerous.

Ellie comes from a family of scapegraces, sometimes by choice and sometimes by chance but now that she has a respectable job as an auditor at a bank, she doesn't want to do anything that could jeopardize that.
Rex is a duke that has never begrudged the large family his estate provides for but when it becomes clear that money is leaking or being siphoned off somewhere, he knows he has to do something.
Ellie and Rex are from two different worlds but as they get to know one another, they're going to realize that love doesn't let a little thing like class distinction trouble it.

Third in the Rogues to Riches series, we get the romance between two previous secondary characters. Readers of the series will remember Ellie as the no nonsense bank auditor for Quinn Wentworth (My One and Only Duke) and the duke that befriended him, Rex Elsmore, even though Quinn came from the lower classes to inherit the title. You could comfortably start the series here as even though the Wentworth family appear in some scenes, you won't feel lost as the author does a good job of incorporating them with just the right amount of background information.

What would it be like, to cast prudence out the window, and seize the duke?
I am an idiot. But was she an idiot for declining what Elsmore offered or for craving it?

I was very fond of Ellie's character, she was a tough cookie but the background on her family and how that affected her childhood gave reasoning behind it. She came from a lower class background and the author wrote in how opportunity and power can hinder people looking to make a living and provide for their family. Ellie visits her sister a couple times and we get some internal dialogue about her parents but her cousin Jack and former fiance, is where readers get great insight into why Ellie thinks and acts the way she does. I thought the author did a good job keeping Jack in the grey, even though he committed what could be seen as black and white actions (I would actually love Jack to get his own book). I thought a little more and revealed sooner information about Ellie's family would have helped make her trying to deny and push Rex away more emotional and allow readers to really sink into the angst.

Rex was the other side of the coin from Ellie, he grew-up with wealth and prestige and had nothing but love and trust for his family members. He has a couple scenes with his mother and sisters, then a few with his cousins but I wish there had a been a couple more with his immediate family, to really show the warmth between them. When he hires Ellie to audit his books, he doesn't want to consider that his family could be stealing from him and I think showing him with his family more could have provided a deeper angst between him loving them and starting to not trust them.

A duke did not become attached to a party far beneath his station.
Except...he did.

The romance between the two was the sweet, insistent, slowly but constantly building to forever that Burrowes does so well. These two surprise each other with how much they like one another and I loved how Rex's gentle charming humor invited in Ellie even when she tried to keep him at arms length. This story only takes place across a couple weeks but their romance development didn't necessarily feel rushed. However, the ending did feel abrupt as Ellie was protesting if they could be together only a few pages before and the question of who and why Rex was losing money is revealed a bit disorderly. Nonetheless, if looking for a kind and teasing duke and a tough exterior but a strong beating heart underneath auditor, Forever and a Duke has a sweetness to it that would make a reading experience pleasurable.