Review: The Duke's Defiant Cinderella
Harlequin Historical

Brenda Larnell (A)
REVIEW: Talented author, Parker J. Cole has launched into the Historical Romance genre with her captivating debut story set in pre-revolution Paris. As the title implies, this is a Cinderella themed romance that features Lilas Moreau and Bastien, Duc de Languedoc (Duke of Languedoc). Lilas is the fille des cendres  (cinder girl), and Bastien takes on the role of her reluctant lover.

One of the most intriguing points of this story is that both the heroine and hero are people of color. That is important, as well as a unique aspect of this story as you will discover. It has a lot to do with how French society of the late 18th century regarded people of  color. Were they accepted as titled citizens with elite positions? Through the character of Bastien, we get to see how he regards himself as a titled Duke, and his place in society. As I said, that’s just one aspect of this compelling story. While Bastien is dealing with his dilemmas, Lilas has her own ordeal to handle. Her life is being threatened. Lilas and Bastien go back a long way. She was a servant in his father’s household. A family secret comes to light, and Lilas discovers that her life will drastically change as her status rises from a lowly servant to a daughter of a count, and Bastien’s on-again-off-again betrothed. I’ll leave that right there, so that you can discover how all of this came to be. In true Parker J. Cole style, this well-written story challenges the changing dynamics of family life and societal norms with a dynamic storyline that is smooth and seamless. The story also has a robust cast of complex characters.

Heading the list of characters is the famous Queen, Marie Antoinette, in a  minor character role. Two characters stand out in their minor roles.  They are the Comtesse de la Baux, Lilas’ stepmother, and Soeur Calme, (Sister Calm), a Nun who has taken a vow of silence. They are the raison d’etre that Lilas’ life is in danger. Mystery, romance, and mayhem all wrapped up in one engrossing story. I love, love, love the Epilogue that houses Lilas and Bastien’s HEA! It is set in Haiti. When you read the story you will discover the significance of that setting.

THE DUKE’S DEFIANT CINDERELLA is an excellent debut historical for Ms. Cole. I recommend it for your reading pleasure.

6th November 2022 |