In the third book in her London Underground series, Dare to Love a Duke (Avon), Eva Leigh again creates a strong female protagonist who isn’t afraid to take risks and knows her own mind.

Lucia Marini, known only as Amina by visitors to The Orchid Club, is a foreigner in London. Born to the Italian mistress of her aristocratic father and cast aside by his English family, Lucia is forced to survive on the streets until the proprietress of a secret establishment gives her the chance to prove herself.

She seizes the opportunity and eventually accepts the responsibility of managing the club and all its employees with one clear goal in mind: to earn enough to finance a home for girls who are suffering from the same plights she has overcome.

The Orchid Club is nothing Thomas Powell expects, but everything he desires. It’s a place of pleasure, passion and freedom where anyone can go to see their wildest fantasies come true, regardless of their station in life. It’s also where he meets Amina, the club’s captivating manager who is as intriguing as she is dedicated.

Tom returns time and again, only learning her true identity upon his father’s death when he seeks her out one final time before he must accept his birthright. When a startling discovery brings Lucia and Tom together again, this time without the cloak of anonymity, the newest Duke of Northfield must choose between carrying on his father’s legacy or forging his own path, regardless of the consequences.

Leigh does an admirable job of depicting Tom’s struggle. He must protect his family’s reputation, but he also cannot fathom using his position to further an agenda that’s not in accordance with his personal beliefs. Tom is torn between wanting to preserve the ties his father has created and wanting to do good, do better, then his father ever could.

Lucia is the angel on his shoulder. Where Tom hesitates, she plunges ahead, determined to make a difference. From experience, Lucia knows what it takes to rise above, and institute change, even when it’s difficult. She understands duty and obligation, but she also believes in hope and in the value of giving back.

As confident as Lucia is, her scars run deep. Love isn’t part of the plan and keeping men at a distance ensures she will never experience the pain of its loss. But if Lucia is Tom’s inspiration, he is her champion. He believes in her and wants to protect her in a way nobody has before.

And this is where Leigh succeeds. Tom and Lucia balance each other in a way that’s both genuine and relatable. I was impressed by them both– by Tom’s commitment to his family and to Lucia, and by Lucia’s tenacity and adherence to her values.

Equally noteworthy is the theme that weaves its way through Tom and Lucia’s story: no great goal has ever been achieved without great courage. Some risks yield the finest rewards. You just have to be willing to take the leap.

Dare to Love a Duke is now available to purchase.

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Eva Leigh is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ’80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.