Duke's Project by Sharon Lanergan

Cerridwen Press


ISBN: 9781419915963

Reviewed by Cassie



East End street girl Dani thinks she's found something she can sell when she comes across a nice, shiny boot in an alley.  Unfortunately, the boot is on a dead body!  She reports the crime.  Later, she manages to push her way into the home of one of the dead man's relatives, the Duke of Stratford, hoping to get a meal and some money out of him in exchange for information.  She doesn't expect the duke to be handsome, and kind, and offer to help her.  She definitely doesn't expect to develop feelings for him.

Simon Thorndike, the Duke of Stratford, is looking into the death of his obnoxious cousin as a favor to his aunt.  He's surprised when Dani appears at his door.  At first, he only wants to help her out a little, but then he begins to think he could help her a lot.  He takes her in and asks his aunt to help her to learn to be a lady.  With a mystery to solve and an increasingly tempting woman under his roof, will Simon end up with a lot more than he bargained for?

Duke's Project has a sequel, Duke Pretender, which I read first.  Oops!  Like the sequel, Duke's Project features likeable characters and a murder mystery.  The My Fair Lady-esque "turn her into a lady" plot was cute, especially with Dani as the "lady" in question.  Dani is a tough, resourceful, emotional character who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect the ones she cares about.  Simon, the duke, is fond of taking in strays and always feels responsible for everyone around him, a trait he tends to take to extremes.  The secondary characters, a range of people from East Enders to members of Simon's set, are well written and advance the story.  There are two main conflicts in the story: Dani's social status, and the murder mystery.  I thought the murder mystery was initially quite interesting, but toward the end it began to get a bit convoluted for me.  There were a couple of very predictable twists near the end, making the plot stretch credibility even for a work of fiction.  Even so, I enjoyed Duke's Project.  The characters were easy to like, and there is foreshadowing for future books in the series.  Having already read Duke Pretender, I now have to wait for Duke Protector, the story of Simon's little sister.



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