REVIEW: The Sixth Henry by Caroline Warfield

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The passion of red—the sweetness of white. Together they may create a love for the ages.

When Henry Bradley, sixth of that name, is suddenly elevated to Duke of Roseleigh, he finds the responsibilities almost outweigh the privileges. Beset by litigious neighbors, needy tenants, and nagging relatives, he also endures pressure from all sides to make sure Roseleigh’s brilliant red roses best the Earl of Edgecote’s white ones at the York Rose Show in the spring. When the Earl’s daughter Margaret pays an unexpected visit to offer her condolences on the death of the old duke, he finds an unexpected ally in the long-standing family feud—and a balm to his lonely heart.

Can the two of them come up with a proposition—or perhaps a rose—to ambush all comers in the Rose Society and turn the competition upside down?

Dear Ms. Warfield, 

I was looking around for what to read next and saw this novella. I’ve enjoyed several  of your other stories and I liked the blurb for “The Sixth Henry” so Rose Wars it was.

Henry had never expected to succeed to the family Dukedom given that he was the son of the second son but we all know how these inheritance things play out. Henry loved his grandfather who, bless him, was a conscientious man. One to look after his tenants, see to his duties, try to make things easy for Henry as Henry took up the responsibilities, and above all, make sure the gardener had all he needed to win the annual rose competition. The family name is Roseleigh, after all. 

The night of his grandfather’s funeral, Henry writes out a list of practical things he needs to accomplish with number six being “find a wife.” The next day he begins to tick off a number of them but when Lady Margaret appears a day later, things get in a bit of an uproar. Lady Margaret is the daughter of their chief rival for top rose honors but her reason for journeying to the estate of the Roseleighs is to offer her sincere condolences.

Okay so probably an unmarried woman of that day and age would never have done this journey but Margaret also wants to end this silly feud. Henry’s family might be suspicious of her but Henry is enchanted. The woman is lovely, intelligent, and knows her agriculture. If he had to make a list, Margaret would take the top 12 spots out of 10. She obviously feels the same but with a feud to bed down, these two are going to have to take their time before going courting. 

Despite this novella being right under the 100 page mark, it covers a lot of ground and does it nicely. Henry is a good guy but one who grows into his stature as a Duke while still managing to adroitly handle lots of people who are making demands on his time. I love that he places the welfare of his dependents/tenants first rather than being a puffed up popinjay who is all about “I’m a Duke.” 

Margaret is gobsmacked by the wonder of the Roseleigh library (gotta love a woman who loves books) and glasshouse. She does do something a little shady but her reasons are good and when Henry finds out, he’s totally on board. Also for a novella, and despite having the two MCs fall fairly quickly for each other, time is allowed before the “I do’s.” Henry adores Margaret’s superior qualities and he knows good things will come to those who give their heroines free rein. As he tells her once she’s explained her plan and how she got there, “Devious as well as clever. I’m a lucky man.” B

~Jayne      

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Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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