Diana Quincy’s The Duke Who Ravished Me (Loveswept, e-book) is another long, slow tumble into love between unlikely partners: the libertine Duke of Sunderford (“Sunny”) and his new — and unwelcome — governess. Prim, proper Isabel Finch arrives with twin 7-year-old girls in tow, throwing the Duke’s life into chaos. Though Sunny instantly rejects his role as guardian and intends to send the trio packing — he rightly surmises that it will be difficult to keep up nightly bacchanals with children in residence — he is soon overwhelmed by the lot of them. For her part, Isabel is horrified by Sunny and his behavior but wary of rocking the boat, as she has her own secrets that could easily separate her from the children she loves beyond measure. Soon, however, Sunny finds himself consumed by his governess and her brash opinions (readers will cheer when she boldly calls him a misogynist), and a tentative truce becomes an unexpected friendship. Sunny finds that his old life doesn’t satisfy the way it once did and fears nothing will if it doesn’t come with Isabel and the girls. Quincy delivers a layered, lovely romance, with an ending that readers won’t see coming.
Secrets abound in Cat Sebastian’s Unmasked by the Marquess (Avon Impulse), which features the crusty, proper Marquess of Pembroke, Alistair de Lacey, who, eager to rectify the sins of his profligate father by seeing his younger brother, Gilbert, respectably matched. Things fall apart when Robert (“Robin”) Selby arrives from nowhere, eager for Gilbert to marry Selby’s sister. Alistair is instantly tempted by Robin, not realizing that he is in fact Charity Church, a servant of the Selby family who assumed the real Robert’s identity years earlier. The story is more nuanced than a traditional heroine-in-pants romance, however. Charity is non-binary, and the life she is able to live in disguise as Robin is more honest than any life she might have presenting as a woman, which she would have to do if she allowed herself to imagine a future with Alistair — a Marquess needs a Marchioness, after all. Sebastian gives readers a beautiful, emotional romance between two people who are thoroughly perfect for each other; Alistair’s response to Robin’s revelations is as powerful and poignant as the couple’s happily ever after is triumphant.
Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance. Her novel “Wicked and the Wallflower” will be published in June.