I am not usually a historical romance girlie, but I’ve yet to be disappointed in a Berkley selection for me yet so I went into The Duchess Takes a Husband, Harper St. George’s fourth and final installment in the Gilded Age Heiresses series, with an open mind.

After being forced into a marriage to the Duke of Hereford, Camille suffered in silence right up until the day he died. Now, she is a free woman and taking full advantage of that. Even with the title her marriage affords her, she still finds herself on the outside of London Society, something her late husband made sure of. But it’s this outsider status that leads her to make a deal with Jacob, the illegitimate son of the late Earl of Leigh. In order for Jacob to soothe the nerves of a potential investor for his new club, Camille agrees to a fake engagement - on one condition. Jacob must show her that it is possible for her to experience something she never has before…pleasure in bed.

After witnessing Camille on the sidelines of the Crenshaw siblings’ stories, it was a true joy to see her headline her own story. Through the three prior books, we see Camille as a bit of a wallflower, shrinking herself to fit into the very tiny box her husband created for her. Delving into this story felt like a releasing a breath I didn’t know I was holding on Camille’s behalf, especially when she takes matters into her own hands and propositions Jacob. The growth that she goes through from the start of the story to the end is admirable and the friends that stand by her side to guide her warms the heart.

The on page discussion about how abuse can take place is difficult but important. Camille, like many women, has a notion that abuse is only physical, feeling as though what occurred within her marriage did not fall into that category. As she opens herself up to Jacob and becomes a part of the London Suffrage Society, she starts to unravel her complicated feelings about it and recognize it for what it was. Harper weaves this storyline in effortlessly and provides a space for other women who have suffered as Camille did to have a starting point for healing.

While Camille’s propositioning of Jacob occurs early in the book, the relationship takes on a very slow burn approach to developing. Normally, I am not a fan of slow burn, but the reason for which everything moved slowly actually made me glad for it. Jacob’s care and patience exposes him for more than the rogue that he is perceived as by others in London Society and it deepens the reader’s emotional connection to him.

This story could have very easily been a hot and heavy whirlwind of steamy scenes leading to an eventual happily ever after, but Harper took time to craft something that is not only incredibly steamy, but soft and loving. The natural development of Camille and Jacob’s relationship is a reminder that, even when there is undeniable attraction and chemistry, a relationship needs to have a strong foundation set in mutual respect, care, and especially consent. 

The Duchess Takes a Husband by Harper St. George hits shelves May 23, 2023 and you can preorder your copy here. Though this story could be read as a standalone, you’re not going to want to miss the events of The Heiress Gets a Duke, The Devil and the Heiress, and The Lady Tempts an Heir so grab a a copy of those while you’re shopping!

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!