Book Review: Liz Carlyle’s Never Deceive a Duke

Posted March 6, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Liz Carlyle’s Never Deceive a Duke

Never Deceive a Duke

on July 24, 2007 and has 416 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Second in the Neville Family historical romance series. The couple focus is on Gareth Lloyd, er, I mean His Grace, the Duke of Warneham, and the widowed Duchess.

My Take

Carylyle continues her unique take on the post-Regency period with her feisty women and rakish, but caring men. It was not a nice place with the old duke. I’d say the world is better off without him or his ideas. Now that he’s dead, the duchess is determined to have a say in her life from here on no matter what her father demands — she has some very modern notions — while Gabriel is determined she shall be happy.

I did enjoy it for the warmth of the series’ characters — and the addition of Antonia, although this was an odd story with some truly horrible people in it. And it certainly sounds to me as though Gareth getting press ganged did him a world of good — if only so he wasn’t raised as a “proper” Ventnor. We do learn what happened to force Gareth onto the youthful path he had to follow. Could almost make you appreciate social workers and their interferences.

It’s a lot of vague references for which Carlyle sometimes spills out additional information, dribble by dribble. The duchess’ madness was one of those vague bits; Carlyle only hints at the possibilities. I’m certainly glad we’ve become more enlightened in our times about grief.

The whole rainstorm/sex encounter was rather odd. Almost as if Carlyle was looking for a different encounter from the usual and just gave up and used this one to help reinforce her desire to have Antonia appear mad. Another vague bit.

A lot of trouble caused by bullies, and we’re still allowing them to get away with it today.

The Story

Seems Gareth Lloyd is really Gabriel Ventor, the new Duke of Warneham. A position he struggles against until Rothewell talks him into going down to Selsdon Court to see what’s what only to find madness and too many mysterious deaths.

The Characters

Gareth Lloyd is who he became; Gabriel Gareth Lloyd Ventnor is who he was. He is an owner, along with Xanthia and Kieran Neville, of Neville Shipping.

His parents were Ruth and Major Charles Ventnor. Rachel and Malachi “Zayde” Gottfried were his Jewish grandparents (Zayde had some very practical ideas about life).

George Kemble is back and helping out down at Selsdon Court as valet/secretary/what-have-you. Is there anything this man cannot lay his hand to? Vicomte de Vendenheim-Sélestat works at the Home Office. Mr. Peel is the Home Secretary.

The Ventnors of Selsdon Court
Cyril is/was the son and heir. Coggins is the butler; Mrs. Musbury is housekeeper; Mr. Benjamin Watson is the estate agent; Metcaff is a discontented footman (and one of the duke’s bastards); and, Statton is a pensioner who’s come back to work in the stables with this quinsy going around. Howard Cavendish is the lawyer charged with finding the only remaining ducal heir.

The delicate, widowed duchess is Antonia Notting, the old duke’s fourth wife (the old boy was desperate to get himself an heir); Nellie Waters is her maid. Lord Swinburne, the earl, is her father with a new young wife, Penelope. James, Viscount Albridge is her dissolute brother. Eric, Lord Lambeth, was Antonia’s first husband. He and their three-year-old daughter Beatrice died.

Reverend Needles crammed Gabriel’s head full as a child. Captain Larchmont of the Saint-Nazaire became the young Gabe’s “protector”.

Sir Percy (gay) and Lady Ingham; Dr. Martin Osborne, the village doctor (his mother, Mary Osborne died three years ago); and Rev. Hamm and his wife (whom the duke seduced) dine weekly at Selsdon Court. John Laudrey is the local justice of the peace. Celeste de la Croix was a high-flyer and the toast of London — and married to Jean de la Croix. Sir Harold Hardell is a barrister now and a former schoolmate of the late duke’s. He and the bullying, lying Jeremy, Lord Litting, the first duchess’ nephew, were guests that night the duke died.

Xanthia Neville is about to be married to Stefan, Marquess of Nash. Kieran Neville, Lord Rothewell, is her dissolute brother. Trammell is Rothewell’s butler.

Knollwood Manor is the decrepit dower house that Gareth wouldn’t wish on an enemy.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a shower of yellows from the softly hazy background to Antonia’s buttery yellow satin empire-waisted gown, falling off her shoulders.

The title is appropriate, for the culprits should never discount one’s friends and Never Deceive a Duke, especially this one.