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The Duke's Secret Cinderella (Never a Wallflower, #3)TITLE: The Duke’s Secret Cinderella by Eva Devon (Book 3, Never a Wallflower)
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Release Date: February 21, 2023 by Entangled Publishing (Amara Romance)
Format: Audiobook (8 hrs and 23 mins)
Genre: Historical Romance; Regency
BLURB: Charlotte Browne could just kick herself. What on earth possessed her to tell the Duke of Rockford that she is a lady? But something about the duke’s handsomeness and kind intelligence makes Charlotte blurt out the teeniest, tiniest falsehood. Now it’s too late to admit she’s just plain Charlotte of no particular importance—with cinder-stained hands, a wretched stepfather, and no prospects for marriage.

Rafe Dorchester, Duke of Rockford, has done what every self-respecting duke must do—avoid marriage at all costs. But the only thing stronger than the duke is his mother, and she lays down the highest ultimatum: he’ll need to find a duchess, immediately. Only, when he calls on a potential bride, he instead finds the pert, fresh-faced Lady Charlotte. Rafe was warned to never mix the business of marriage with pleasure, but when it comes to Lady Charlotte…oh, business would be a splendid pleasure.

Except Charlotte knows that true life is nothing like the penny romances she reads. The duke can’t actually end up with a maid. When her vile stepbrother catches her coming from the gardens with the duke close on her heels, Charlotte knows just what he’ll do. And there’s only one way to save them all from scandal…

Definitely one of my favorite Cinderella retellings. It was entertaining as the author made a few adjustments to the fairytale retelling. In this story, there was a wicked stepfather as opposed to stepmother. Regardless of the variations, this story was such a delightful audiobook. The narrator, Sasha Higgins, absolutely captured the vibe of the story. She’s a new to me narrator but she did an awesome job bringing the characters to life.

The protagonist, Charlotte Browne, was living as a servant to her stepsister (and best friend) Francesca but she wasn’t bitter. She was kind, thoughtful and resourceful. On her crusade to save a servant in their household, she meets Rafe Dorchester, Duke of Rockford who believes he has meet an intriguing prospect. The Duke is being harassed by his mother to marry and went as far as making a list of ladies whom she believed to be suitable to the role of duchess. When Charlotte met Rafe, she didn’t bat her eyelashes and swoon, she spoke to him frankly and plainly making him feel like he could have an equal partner. However, Charlotte didn’t give him her true identity and that led them on a path that made Rafe’s attempt at courtship very twisty.
Eva Devon is an author that I haven’t read before, but I really enjoyed her storytelling. It was fast paced, intriguing and heartwarming. The characters made you root for them, or at least understand what their underlying motives were. The chemistry and intensity between Charlotte and Rafe was palpable. I felt so much angst that I could not stop reading. I loved the energy and confidence that Rafe brought to things that he did. Charlotte had such a resilient spirit that I wanted her to finally have love and family. Rafe’s mother and grandmother were a surprise as I didn’t expect to like them. Most of the characters wanted just a bit more than the ton would allow, so I am glad they were able to work it out and keep their respectability.

I enjoyed this story so much that I plan to read the reminder of the series as soon as possible. It may have been my first book by Eva Devon, but it will not be my last.

**Special thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing for this audiobook that I received for free in exchange for an honest review.

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