Pressured to take a wife, jonathan Carlisle has retrreated to a rural hunting lodge to consider his options only to be kidnapped. Badly wounded in his escape, he awakens in the home of a country physician and his beautiful daughter Melanie. Uncertain of who his enemies are, Jonathan trusts no one and feigns amnesia, but he can not deny the tender passion he shares with melaine. And yet, despite their growing bond, he is unaware that Melaine is burdened by a damning secret, until she confesses the truth: she is wanted for the muder of her husband.
Lady Catherine intends to see her younger brother, the eighth Duke of Chatham, Jonathan Carlisle married. Nine mistresses in ten years have kept Jonathan satisfied, and he has no intention of falling in with his sister's matchmaking. So he ducks her introductions to yet more eligible women by escaping with friend Bertram Lewis on a "very urgent business trip." When Bertram cancels at the last minute, Jonathan sets out alone, only to be threatened at gunpoint by kidnappers. Then a flash of lightening startles his horse and he is thrown from his horse over a cliff.
Sighted clinging to a log, Jonathan is rescued from the waters and cared for by Dr. Edger Pickering and his daughter Melanie. Recognizing that his damaged fine clothes indicate wealth, the doctor and Melanie carefully conceal their identity. Melanie's eight-year-old son does not speak, so does not represent a threat to their anonymity. When he awakens from his coma, Jonathan immediately realizes that Melanie is keeping secrets. Fearful she might be part of the kidnapping plot, he claims amnesia. Soon they find themselves fighting their mutual attraction and the truths they both conceal.
In the most endearing installment yet of the infamous Lady Cat's family, THE RUNAWAY DUKE combines mystery and romance in a marvelously entertaining read. Melanie's determination to protect her son lends her character startling strength given the years of abuse she endured at her deceased husband's hands. Jonathan's certainty that she is the woman for him despite the impediments between them will warm reader's hearts as he determinedly seeks the answers to Melanie's problems. Further, the exciting conclusion provides a powerful climax to this carefully plotted tale. An absolutely memorable read, THE RUNAWAY DUKE earns the WordWeaving Award for Excellence.