Tell me if this sounds familiar: there’s this Duke. He is dark and handsome. But he has a bad reputation. He might be called the Devil Duke (I’m thinking here of The Duke by Katherine Ashe, or Stephanie Laurens’ Devil Cynster, 6th Duke of St. Ives, who appears in every single book of hers that I’ve ever read) or the Dangerous Duke (like the titular hero of The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter).
This Devil Duke probably leans into his nickname, and may even actively cultivate it. (Perhaps by reading a book on witchcraft at a party, in one particularly ridiculous example of this phenomenon.) The reasons for embracing the nickname may be a cover for other plans, or due to angst, or maybe just because it’s fun and decadent to have a really bad reputation.
Think Mr. Rochester, but classically handsome and with a title and also without a wife locked in the attic. We hope.
Broad generalization: Everyone likes a bad boy. (I know, I know. #notallsmutreaders, etc.) But here’s the thing with bad boys: they are generally not so financially stable. They don’t come with a mansion or three. They have motorcycles or mafia ties or whatever. They come from the wrong side of the tracks.
But! If you make a Duke a bad boy, then you can have the best of both worlds. The Devil Duke is outside of society, but still intrinsically part of it – title trumps behavior in the highest levels of the aristocracy. So he can be dangerous, but still wealthy and powerful, without those pesky criminal inclinations that haunt mafia or motorcycle heros. (Or other bad boy Regency heros for that matter – the pirates and highwaymen and so on, who may have buried treasure, but not societal stability.) And even if he does have criminal inclinations, or a shady past, or want to dabble in witchcraft, or have treasonous family members… well, he’s a Duke, so once he settles down, stability inevitably follows. He is welcomed back into the arms of society.
Next Time: Let’s talk about the dreaded mother-in-law. Yes, folks, it’s time we turned our attention to the Dowager Duchess.