Friday, February 4, 2022

Review & Giveaway - - The Runaway Duchess

The Runaway Duchess
by Joanna Lowell
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 18, 2022
Reviewed by Santa

Pretty and pampered, Lavinia Yardley always dreamed of becoming a duchess. But family disgrace forces her into marriage with the most vile duke in England, and she finds herself desperate for a way out. When a rustic stranger mistakes her for globe-trotting botanist Muriel Pendrake at a train station, Lavinia has a split second to decide whether to submit to her fate or steal someone else's.

Neal Traymayne spent his youth traveling the world as Varnham Nursery's most daring plant hunter. Now he runs the nursery and is ready to settle down with a like-minded wife who'll fit right in with his large, happy, down-to-earth family. His correspondence with Muriel Pendrake proved they're the perfect match. Odd that the woman in the flesh seems more like a society belle than a scientist.

As they tramp the Cornish moors together, Lavinia and Neal discover a wild and rare desire. But this blossoming love is rooted in lies, and when the real Muriel Pendrake shows up, they can't hide from who they are. The truth may wither their hopes of happiness, or it may bloom into the sweetest love of all.

Santa says:

The Runaway Duchess by Joanna Lowell is the second book in this series and another five star read for me. Lowell takes us across Cornwall and enchants at every turn. Can a plant hunter and a duchess on the run - who he mistakes for a famous botanist - arrive at love? Lowell crafts a story that does just that. 

I have to say that the role of a plant hunter and the whole infrastructure behind the gardens of the wealthy of Victorian England is a revelation to me; as is the book’s hero Neal Tramayne. Neal is a world traveling plant hunter for Varnham Nurseries. Heroes do not, in fact, have to be dressed by Weston and Neal is proof of this. He is a well rounded character and, if you will forgive the phrase, very down to earth. 

We were introduced to Lavinia Yardley in Joanna Lowell’s previous book The Duke Undone.  She was Anthony, the Duke of Weston’s fiancé. That is until it is revealed her father nearly swindled him out of a fortune. She and her mother are destitute and shunned by a fickle ton now that her father is in jail. Their situation is so dire that her mother sees the only recourse is for Lavinia to marry. The only man who will have her is an abusive, old, lecherous reprobate, the Duke of Cranbrook.  

Lavina reluctantly agrees to marry him. She is repulsed at every turn and can’t bring herself to consummate the marriage. Fortune seems to shine on Lavinia for once in her life when they somehow get separated on the train ride to his estate. She meets Neal on that platform where he first mistakes her for Mrs. Pendrake. He whisks her off to forage the wilds of Cornwall. However, this Mrs. Pendrake comes off as more debutante than intrepid world traveler.

They grow close as Lavina spends time with Neal. Love enters their journey. He takes her to meet his wildly eccentric, genius of a family. He brings to Lavinia Yardley, aka Duchess Cranbrooke, a clearer vision of herself. He actually sees her even as he mistakes her for Mrs. Murial Pendrake.  

No man in her life has ever actually seen her. They’ve manipulated her as her father had. They used her as the man she gave herself to did. They married her just to use and abuse her. But Neal’s love causes the scales to fall from her eyes and see the potential she has in herself.  

This is not to say that their relationship is an easy one. He realizes that Lavinia is indeed not his Muriel Pendrake. Lavinia returns to London and continues to remain hidden as the duke is still at his estate. Neal and Lavinia meet up again at his nursery when the real Mrs. Pendrake appears and Lavinia feels lost again.  

It’s crazy but through it she discovers her truer self and that she is, of all things, a writer. It is through the intervention of their friends, and fate finally giving Lavinia a good turn, that they reach their happily ever after. Such delicious angst and her richness of characters are a treat. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Runaway Duchess.

Are you a plant person? What types of plants do you grow?

Have you read Joanna Lowell yet?

One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, February 6 will receive a print copy of The Duke Undone

*U.S. only

*Must be 18

*Void where prohibited


  1. I haven't read Joanna Lowell novels. I have plants in my house. They do well and make the house attractive. Bamboo plants, various greenery and a few small plants.

    1. Joanna Lowell brings alot to her characters and writing.

  2. This story sounds captivating and special. I did not know about this author. Plants add atmosphere and I have several small ones in different areas.

  3. I have a talent of killing indoor plants :-( It doesn't help that my house doesn't get a lot of natural sunlight. I do enjoy having a veggie and herb garden though and manage to keep the plants happy. I have not yet read any of Joanna Lowell's books, but they do sound interesting.

  4. I generally kill off plants, but my neighbor has given me 2 and put me on a schedule of watering once a week on Sundays and they are still doing well. I'm not familiar with Joanna Lowell - thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Good luck! My kids gave me plants for Christmas! Hope you pick up a copy of the book! I really enjoyed it!

  5. This sounds wonderful! I used to be a plant person, lost interest, but I'm now trying again. Just got my first houseplant at Christmas for round two.

  6. Read The Runaway Duchess to it! They talk about all kinds of flora. Who knows - your plant may fall in love and thrive.

  7. Thanks so much for this post. The book sounds lovely.

    God has given me a green thumb - the rest of the fingers do well too. I grow African violets, begonias, impatiens, Swedish Ivy, bromeliads, and others. I used to start trees from seeds. Then when they got too big I gave them away cause trees are blessings to be shared. And I could no longer move the pots around the patio.

    This is a new to me author and this book does sound like a book I would enjoy.

    I hope that everyone is well and safe and happy.

  8. A new-to-me author, this book sounds like a winner.

  9. So excited for this one — great review! I love plants in theory, but I’m not great about keeping them alive 😅 I have a spider plant that’s still going strong at the moment, though

  10. The Duke Undone sounds groundbreaking (!) - Thanks, Santa! I haven't read Joanna Lowell yet, but you've convinced me I should. As for plants: I don't do much indoors, but every summer I grow strawberries, tomatoes, and corn for the wily deer, rabbits, and squirrels to get to before any of it's ripe enough for me to pick. I yell and scream like a mad woman, and they continue outsmarting me.

  11. I read The Duke Undone and am looking forward to reading The Runaway Duchess. I am an avid gardener, especially native plants. I have attended a few talks about plant hunters, so this sounds like a good read for me!

  12. A new to me author!! I no longer have house plants, but I do plant various flowers in my yard.

  13. I have not yet read any of Joanna Lowell's books, but this one does sound interesting.

    I am a plant/garden person. We have always had a flower and a vegetable garden wherever we have lived. Nothing beats fresh vegetables from the garden. We always look forward to the first picking of each of the vegetables. Asparagus is a favorite and the first crop that produces. Our asparagus bed is about 20 ft by 15 ft. I do have extensive flower beds that health issues is making it hard to care for. My favorites are irises, peonies, snap dragons, vinca, heather, lilac, lavender, begonia, fuchsia, hosta, and many more.

    Thank you for the review.

  14. I have not read any of Joanna’s books.

    I love flowers and gardening. All kinds of plants. In Florida I love hibiscus plants and all the tropical foliage.
    In Wisconsin, we have lilacs and a lot of evergreen trees. Spirea plants and host as.
    I do not have any indoor plants. I am a snowbird.

  15. I have not read Joanna Lowell yet but this books sounds delightful. My mom passed me her love of growing plants. It is the depths of winter but I have been babying along indoors a couple of different types of fig cuttings, a grape cutting and some thornless yellow raspberry starts, some potted herbs and a few pots of greens (arugula, lettuces, kale and asian greens). I am greatly benefitted with a few South facing windows. I love plants but especially ones I can eat or enjoy for color or fragrance.

  16. Just wondering if this giveaway has a winner yet?