A MOST UNUSUAL DUKE

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Beatrice, dowager Marchioness of Castleton, never wants to marry again. She was forced into her first marriage and then discovered her cruel husband was a versipellis, or shape-shifter, revealing to her an entire paranormal wing of the beau monde—including the prince regent. Arthur, Duke of Osborn, another versipellis and cousin to the prince, also doesn’t want to marry, as it would betray his childhood vow to never step into his role as an Alpha. But Prince George has other plans for the two of them, and those plans require a quick and quiet wedding in the back of a chapel. After the ceremony, Beatrice and Arthur quickly agree that theirs will be a “white marriage,” meaning it won’t be consummated, and she gets to work meeting his staff and repairing his estate, still in shambles, destroyed by the man who killed his father when he was a child. They settle into their unexpected new lives, separate though in the same house, but when his sister and her family come to visit, Beatrice discovers that the versipellian world is far more diverse and kind than she experienced in her first marriage. Having guests also brings the newlyweds closer, and as proximity begins to build a powerful attraction between them, they shift from a white marriage to a more passionate “cordial affiliation.” But the marriage can’t truly be consummated until Arthur is finally willing to overcome his childhood trauma and face down his enemies—which may be too much to ask. The second book in Allen’s Regency shape-shifter series is, like the first, A Wolf in Duke’s Clothing (2021), an enjoyable combination of subgenres, fully devoted to the tropes of both. The book moves effortlessly between paranormal lingo and Regency touches, and though the plot is fairly basic, the dialogue is clever and funny. Readers equally interested in Prince George’s historic fashion sense and shape-shifter pack dynamics will be thrilled.

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