It’s really hard to believe that Jodi Ellen Malpas has never written a regency historical romance before. Her debut regency novel, One Night with the Duke, is everything a reader wants in a regency romance; there’s a misunderstood alpha hero and a heroine who yearns to be set free from society’s demands. Unlike other regency romances, though, One Night with the Duke has Jodi Ellen Malpas’ signature all over it.
In One Night with the Duke, young Eliza Melrose is dreading her first social season at the ton. Her family moved to the city from the country after her father’s business took off. Eliza would rather be reading, or, better yet, writing for her father’s newspaper. Unfortunately, writing isn’t something that respectable young women should do. Eliza’s family would much prefer that their daughter prepare to be married, which is the last thing she wants.
Eliza starts to notice activity in the Winters home in her neighborhood. She’s heard the rumors about the Duke of Chester and how his son murdered his family. When Johnny Winters, the notorious duke himself, returns to town there are whispers and furtive glances about his presence. A chance encounter with the Duke leaves Eliza breathless, and suddenly she wants to know more about him.
Dark hero Johnny Winters is broody enough, but this rake operates in a different world than his fictional compatriots. Eliza is strong and bold and bucks against the restraints placed upon her by society and the unwritten rules of the ton. She won’t be pushed around…until she realizes that she might actually like it.
Whether it’s This Man’s Jesse Ward or One Night Promised’s Miller Hart, Malpas knows how to create complex male characters who are fierce and moody on the outside but protective, loyal and intensely passionate on the inside. It takes an equally fierce and strong woman to crack the roguish exterior to see what’s inside, and Malpas has shown us time and again that she can create female characters who are equally complex as their male counterparts. Though they might not see it, these characters are better off together than apart and readers get to sit back and enjoy the ride while they figure out their issues.
I absolutely loved exploring Malpas’ new world. As the first book in her Belmore Square series, One Night with the Duke is just the beginning and that’s a good thing. It’s fun seeing how Malpas gets creative with the conventions of the day; when an exposed calf has as much promise and innuendo as a modern-day nip slip, well, that gives Malpas plenty of room to play.
Malpas writes regency romance with ease. Reading One Night with the Duke is like letting your brain float along a lazy river in an inner tube; it’s absolutely effortless and easy to lose one’s self in the story. Not only that, but longtime fans will notice the same cadence in One Night with the Duke that’s present in her other books. Despite the setting, there’s no question you’re reading a Jodi Ellen Malpas story and that’s a testament to her immense talent.
If you’ve never read a regency romance, One Night with the Duke is a great starting point. If you’re a longtime regency reader then you’ll enjoy Malpas’ regency debut. One Night with the Duke is sexy, thrilling and oh-so-much fun.