In Christy Carlyle’s A Duke Changes Everything (HarperCollins), Nicholas Lyon is a man with scars, both literally and figuratively. Cast aside as a bastard and tortured by his nobleman father, Nick is only too happy to renounce a title that has brought him nothing but pain. Forced to survive on his own after his mother’s death, Nick eventually builds a gambling empire, one where he holds all the cards. At Lyon’s Gentleman’s Club in London, the house always wins. That is, until an unexpected turn of events forces Nick back to a life he left behind, to a title he never wanted, and to a woman who just might have the power to chase away his ghosts.

Thomasina Thorne was raised to conform to the expectations of her station. A steward’s daughter is supposed to be a lady, to always do what’s right and proper and to “never let [her] struggles be known.” But she was also taught to serve and, while hiding her true nature has always been a challenge for Mina, her sense of duty is steadfast. Defying social and gender norms, she assumes a role few women of her time can – management of an estate.

Though she’s expecting the return of the new Duke of Tremayne, Mina is unprepared for her reaction to the striking, confident man who has so much to hide. She’s even more unprepared to learn of Nick’s plans for the only home she’s ever known. Desperate to protect her childhood home and her job, Mina vows to convince Nick that Enderley can be saved. It’s not until she launches her campaign and learns of the nightmares that reside within the castle’s walls that she starts to question not only if she still belongs there, but whether Enderley should be saved at all.

In Nick and Mina, Carlyle has created two characters that complement each other perfectly, though it doesn’t seem so at first. Their chemistry is palpable from the start, but Nick is independent and self-sufficient. Though he’s instantly enamored with the fiery, yet practical golden-eyed stewardess, Mina seems too bound to her sense of duty and responsibility to ever understand his struggles. Still, they are a match, and the more they get to know each other, the more Nick learns of Mina’s closeted adventurous spirit and a desire for freedom that rivals his own.

Despite both the internal and external hurdles Nick and Mina must overcome, Carlyle makes the progression of their relationship look easy. They change together, their arcs seamlessly intertwining with clear plot points that propel the story forward. Mina helps Nick see a future that doesn’t involve stripping aristocrats of their fortunes or burning his family history to the ground and Nick ensures that Mina can be the person she was always meant to be without losing the woman she is.

I was invested in these characters. I cared about them, but only because I understood who they were and what they wanted from the beginning. Even Nick’s butler, Wilder’s, story tugged a little at my heart because I believed in their shared history.

If strong characters and solid story structure aren’t enough to make romance fans pick up this read than its tried-and-true message should: To get what you want, sometimes you have to follow your heart, not your head.

A Duke Changes Everything is now available to purchase.

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Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings. Contact Christy at [email protected] or find out more at