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Elizabeth Hoyt’s Not the Duke’s Darling is the book 1 of her brand new historical romance series, Greycourt. It was one of my most anticipating releases of 2018. Her previous series, Maiden Lane, which stole many hearts and made many new Hoyt fans—as a huge fan myself I’d like to think that’s happened!—had ended in 2017 after a long run with 12 books and some novellas under its belt. Naturally, we fans were eagerly waiting for this new series to see what Ms. Hoyt has in store for us in this new journey. I’m excited that there’s a new series, even if the introductory installment wasn’t as good as I was hoping it’d be.
Not the Duke’s Darling, so far, doesn’t look to have any connection to Maiden Lane whatsoever. I haven’t come across anything that pointed to me to that direction. However, it’s only the beginning and one can only hope! Though still set in the Georgian-era, the setting is slightly after the time-frame of Maiden Lane. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any possibilities of.......
Okay okay, that’s the Maiden Lane fan in me blabbering away. :P I’ll just get into the review... The story begins with our heroine, Freya de Moray, running from some miscreants while also protecting a baby and his nanny as they ran. At first, it’s all very confusing. Is the baby hers? Or is he a family member? Then, within a few pages we discover that she’s the ‘Macha’ or spy of a secret ladies group called the Wise Women and been working for them for a while now. The Wise Women were women with healing powers (healers) who existed for generations and openly helped people with their knowledge. They abounded all over England since the ancient times. But as time went on and the threat of witch hunt—as they were termed at one of point of history—and many killed, the number of Wise Women has now gone down drastically.
The Wise Women were, and still are, selected from various families (wasn’t sure if only peers or from any family) and given education and training from a young age. These days all that is done in secret. Well they don’t have any magical powers but they have other knowledge to help. Nowadays, with a new form of witch-hunter fanatics called the Dunkelders after them, they had to go in hiding. Wise Women also love living an independent life that doesn’t go with the social norms. Some live unmarried, while others marry and go as far as to have children. Some would take lovers. Many of them live among normal people hiding that part of their identity. After all, they have to be very selective of who they trust. Many now live in Scotland where their headquarters is. Or so I thought it was. I’m not sure how far the Wise Women are still scattered all over England cause, for this book, we only learn about the Wise Women that live in an estate called Dornoch in Scotland conveniently close to Freya’s own ancestral home.