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Audio Book Review-The Return of the Duke by Lorraine Heath

by | Jul 30, 2022 | Audio Book Reviews, Book Reviews | 5 comments

This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.

About The Book

In the thrilling third book in New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath’s Once Upon a Dukedom series, the dashing son of a disgraced duke teams up with a sultry beauty to thwart an assassination plot against Queen Victoria.

When his father, the Duke of Wolfford, is hanged for an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, Marcus Stanwick is stripped of everything. Vowing to return honor to his family, he seeks to expose the others involved in the treasonous plot and bring them to justice. His search forces him to turn to a woman he despises for her unforgiveable betrayal–a woman known as the heartless harlot.

Harboring secrets, Esme Lancaster has her own reasons for wanting to discover who’s behind the conspiracy that’s still afoot. She doesn’t trust Marcus but can’t deny the handsome devil makes her wonder if she does indeed possess a heart, one he could very easily steal.

As their hunt for the truth leads them into danger, Marcus finds Esme isn’t cold and calculating as he’d assumed but fire and brimstone, with courage and determination to match his own. Soon, they’re unable to deny their growing desire for each other. But giving into temptation comes at a cost, and they must decide if love is worth the risk of losing their one chance for redemption.

My Review

First Impressions

The Return of the Duke is the last in the Dukedom trilogy and I am so pleased with this book. This author in recent years has become such a hit or miss author for me. So I never know what I am getting into with this author. I am so happy to say that this book was such a WIN for me. Not my favorite of the series, as I think book one still wins that medal, however, I was so delighted with this book and everything that is delivered in this one here. I absolutely adored what Lorraine Heath delivers here, and it was so different and was still just as spicey as you would come to expect from her writing. Lorraine Heath has always been ahead of the steam when it comes to historical romance. This story was such a kick ass romance, and if you are a fan of spies and lovers ,then this one will totally work out for you. I was so charmed by this one, and I didn’t expect it. I went smart and tried it out in audio and so grateful that I did. It has a talented narrator and really made this book shine.


In The Return of the Duke, we have a story where our hero, Marcus Stanwick, was the heir to the Duke of Woilfford, and is determined to find the culprits that worked with his father in the plot to kill the queen and the reason that he and his siblings were stripped of everything that had because of it. On his journey to get to the other involved, he comes across Esme Lancaster, who has secrets of her own and is on her own journey as she is a secret agent for the crown and has been working with the Queen for years now. She doesn’t know what Maccus’ angle truly is, but she doesn’t trust him. But as they come with a compromise in working together, there is a chemistry that builds between them and she doesn’t know that she can keep her resistance to Marcus much longer. But to Esme this is just a job, but soon it becomes so much more than that. As Marcus and Esme get closer to revealing the truth about the lies and secrets, will they find a way to their happy ending or are their worlds too different to find common ground?

What I Loved

The Return of the Duke was such a captivating romance and I enjoyed it so dearly. In fact, I had the most challenging time actually rating this book, it wasn’t quite a five (because I did have a few issues) but I will say that this one truly worked for me in such beautiful ways. There is a sense of redemption in this story and we really get to see so much depth to a hero that has been so secretive in the past two books. I loved this side of him that we get to see in this one here. I truly found him so remarkable in how honorable and full of integrity he is. We see how his father’s betrayal really affected him and how he is wanted to redeem his family name. We see his good heart and sense of responsibility to his siblings. Then we have Esme, who is the “secretive” of the pair. Normally the hero comes off as being the secretive one in a romance, but Esme is the one that fits this bill. We don’t really know her intentions at the beginning of the story and I really admired her tenacity and strength. She is a vibrant woman that has so many capabilities, she has her own strengths and will to get the job done. She is a survivor and is completely loyal. I truly had a blast with the layers of chemistry that is built throughout the story. We see so much in their romance in how its deeply layered side by side with the plot that worked so well. Marcus and Esme make such a strong team and really balance out each other’s strengths in a synchronized manner. You see the level of attachment they have, but also their fierce level of protectiveness for those in their care.

What I Struggled With

I will be honest inthat the heroine was a hard one at times, and she didn’t show any vulnerabilities or flaws at all. I don’t really want a perfect heroine, I want a character that is real and relatable and she felt so “perfect” and untouchable. I also wasn’t a fan of her actions in the end. The story built up into such a crescendo but the ending just didn’t harmonize with the rest of the story, and left me feeling so untethered. I want a “riding off into the sunset” and this one just didn’t quite deliver on that front.

The Narration

I will say that Kate Reading has such remarkable talent, especially in how she narrates historical romances, there is something in her manner of voice and delivery that is so attractive and endearing. I really enjoyed the way she used the levels of her voice to display the hero and heroine and other gender of characters that we get faced with in the story. The accents were done just right and the way she delivered the sexual tension really built throughout the story so well. I do think that Kate Reading is a star out of female narrators and such a joy to listen to. Her voice is highly engaging and she immediately pulled me into the story here.

Overall View

I found The Return of the Duke to be a remarkable listen and Lorraine Heath definitely delivered a solid finale that struck gold! Its a story of sacrifice, sizzling chemistry and a duty bound love that will warm the heart and bring such light delights to entertain!

Book Details

Title: The Return of the Duke

Author: Lorraine Heath

Genre: Historical Romance

Format: Audiobook

Source: Audible

Length: 9 Hours and 21 Mins

About the Narrators

Kate Reading is an Audie Award–winning narrator who has recorded hundreds of titles in many genres. She has received numerous Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, in addition to being named Narrator of the Year and Best Voice in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Book Links

Amazon| Barnes & Noble| Kobo| Goodreads| LibraryThing| Storygraph| Literal Club| Audible| Anyplay

Book Evaluation

Storytelling Quality: 4.5

Story Itself: 4.25

Character Development: 4

Writing Style: 4.25

World Building 4

Feels + The Romantic Heart 4.5

Pacing 4

Plot 4.5

Narration= 4.5

Cover Art 5

Ending 5

Book Ratings

Rating of the Book

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Steam Level

Simmering cup of tea—soft warm touches and light intimacy

Warmin’ by the fire- a medium level of sexual tension, a balance of sexual and emotional intimacy, lighter on the details in the sexual moments.

Steamin’ up the room -the sexual content is more explicit in the language and tone, heavier amount of sexual scenes.

Blazing fire to the building-The prime focus is the sex scenes, scorching hot, and could burn one. Less focus on the emotional intimacy to the relationship.

Series Order

Once Upon A Dukedom

Scoundrel of My Heart-Pub 2021 #1 in the Series

The Duchess Hunt-Pub 2021 #2 in the Series

The Return of the Duke-Pub 2022 #3 in the Series

About The Author

Lorraine Heath has always had a soft spot for emotional love stories. No doubt because growing up, watching movies with her mom, she was taught that the best movies “won’t half make you cry.”​​​​​​​

She is the daughter of a British beauty (her mom won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor® during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero, (the Joker on the original Batman TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her “dual” nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan, and she enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.

When she received her BA degree in psychology from the University of Texas, she had no idea she had gained a foundation that would help her to create believable characters—characters that are often described as “real people.” She began her career writing training manuals and computer code for the IRS, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she became not only hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since.

Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards including RWA’s RITA®. Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including ​​​​​​​USA TODAY and the New York Times.

The author of more than 60 novels, she writes historical and contemporary romance for adults and historical romance for teen readers.

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  1. Sophie @BewareOfTheReader

    I am so happy that she didn’t let you down this time! Also I love that narrator!

  2. Sophia Rose

    I’ve only read a Lorraine Heath Christmas novella, but I’ve been meaning to try a full-length. Love the spies aspect of this one. Too bad it was a little off in pitch when it came to the heroine.

  3. nbiblioholic

    I do love stories about spies and lovers. However, you know I’m hypercritical about heroines, so I might end up doing it again with this book LOL.
    Fab review!! XO

  4. Nadene (TtllyAdd2Reading)

    Sounds like you had a great time with this installment, despite your issues with the heroine.


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