“Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” – Buddha
As Heath Blackwood, of ‘Duke in Hiding' by MJ O'Shea, soon realizes, hiding from danger necessitates lying about why you are in a certain place, who you are, what you do, and where you are from. Heath doesn't see any harm in telling a few lies to preserve his safety and, honestly, doesn't see how it would matter, that is, until he becomes intimately involved with Theo Brody. As they become closer, Heath feels guilty about lying to Theo, or at the least, not telling him the whole truth about who he is because he is afraid that his dishonesty will cause Theo not to trust him. So Heath puts off the confession until he gets caught in his own lies.
At first, Theo dislikes the snarky, stuck-up Englishman who seems condescending at best. Although Theo is a down-to-earth, decent man, he won't tolerate what he considers disrespect and calls Heath out on his behavior. Heath admits his homesickness and lack of desire to be on Wickstaff Island as an excuse for his disgruntled behavior, and Theo admits that they have started off on the wrong foot and agrees to try again. They strike up a friendship that soon begins to be more. Theo decides that he loves Heath and is not willing to miss out on an opportunity to be intimate with him, even though it means he will miss him intensely when he has to go back to England.
Heath loves Theo and is happier than he's ever been when he's with him. He's convinced he has met the man of his dreams and has no intention of letting him go. He's already calculating, deciding what to do about their relationship when he has to return to England, not seeing the distance as a huge obstacle. Heath's best scenario involves convincing Theo to come live with him. Heath hates that he's lied to Theo and intends to tell him who he really is, but keeps putting it off. Heath has finally gathered up the courage to tell him when fate intervenes. The authorities in England discover and arrest the culprit who tried to kill him and he must return to England to face his family and the controversy that will surely be surrounding the charges and trial.
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful fairy-tale style of story. Heath and Theo are both well-developed, intriguing characters. So is Gilly, Theo's best friend. The secondary characters are a delight as well and exemplify citizens with a small-town mentality, most of whom know everyone’s business and although nosy, mean well. If you enjoy romance, small towns, handsome men, nobility, and love, you may like this story. Thanks, M.J., for a romantic, happily-ever-after tale.