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
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.