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Widow's Brew #3

Cheers to the Duke

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In USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie’s intoxicatingly romantic series, the “fallen” ladies of Puddledon Manor’s Benevolent Home are restoring their reputations—and their future prospects—by operating their very own brewery and alehouse...

As the founder of the Home, Josephine Smyth-Waters is determined to be there for the women who need her. But when she receives the invitation to the christening party of the Earl of Darrow’s baby, it’s a temptation almost too strong to resist. Not only will Jo see friends and former partners Pen and Caro again, she’ll finally meet the Home’s generous benefactor. Jo has been writing to Edward Russell, Duke of Grainger, for months, eagerly anticipating his charming missives. But she never expects the duke’s looks to be as dashing as his words. It’s enough to make the lovely widow a little reckless...

Even after a year, the title of “duke” still sits strangely on Edward Russell’s shoulders. But it is his duty, no matter his less-than-positive opinion of the nobility. When Edward encounters Jo—capable, fun, and utterly irresistible—he’s delighted to find someone he truly connects with. A trick of fate has placed them on two different paths... but Edward is beginning to realize that perhaps he’s not the kind of man who does the expected thing after all...

328 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published October 5, 2021

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About the author

Sally MacKenzie

36 books615 followers
Sally MacKenzie decided to become a writer in grade school when she read one of her stories to the class. Her classmates laughed and she was hooked. She sat down immediately to pen her first novel.

Well, not exactly.

The hooked part is right--cursed might be a better description--but the sitting down and writing part came later. Much later.

Sally eventually went on to college, majoring in English, and, upon graduation, did what many English majors do--she went to law school. But she still couldn’t shake her dream of writing fiction. Midway through law school, she faced the fact that she really did not want to be a lawyer. She took a permanent leave of absence, came home to the Washington, D.C. area, and sat down to type her first novel.

Well, not exactly.

She did come home and write, but mostly she wrote regulations for the United States government’s school nutrition programs. (Ketchup as a vegetable, anyone?) When her law school sweetheart graduated, he moved to D.C. and they got married. A couple years later, the first of their four sons was born, and Sally “retired” to manage their family. She wrote a story or two and some picture book texts, all now stored away in a filing cabinet, but she spent most of her energies on baby tending which rapidly evolved into carpool driving. She became an extremely skilled scheduler, getting all four boys to soccer, basketball, baseball, track, swimming, piano, scouts, and birthday parties without ever losing one. (Okay, she did lose the youngest for a few minutes, but she found him before he’d toddled into the parking lot.) And she did more writing--school newsletters, auction programs, class plays, swim league guidance, and the acclaimed annual MacKenzie family newsletter--but no fiction.

Finally, the boys started driving (Eek!) and leaving for college. The nest was emptying and she wasn't getting any younger. The time had come to chase the dream or let it go for good, so she sat down at the computer and wrote. And rewrote. And rewrote again until she had a polished manuscript. She joined the Romance Writers of America, and when the plea went out for Regency manuscripts for the 2004 Golden Heart contest, she sent in The Naked Duke. The stars aligned. She made the final round, and one of the judging editors liked the manuscript and offered to buy it.

Yee haw!!

When not writing or obsessing over the various mysteries of book promotion, Sally can be found at the gym working hard to age gracefully, at the pool on the SLOW side of the Masters swim practice, or at one meeting or another volunteering at the helm of the summer swim league.


Here's Sally with her family--she's 5 ft. 8 in. tall, but she's short in this crowd.

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5 stars
84 (27%)
4 stars
118 (38%)
3 stars
84 (27%)
2 stars
20 (6%)
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4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 106 reviews
Profile Image for Barbara Rogers.
1,463 reviews137 followers
September 25, 2021
Barbara’s rating: 4.5 Stars
Series: Widow’s Brew
Publication Date: 10/5/21
Period: Regency
Number of Pages: 352

OMGoodness – I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely, heartwarming romance. Our protagonists had both survived tragedy and unhappiness in their lives, both had survived, and both had overcome. Well, he had, but I’m not sure about her. While she has survived and has done good works, she still allows what happened during her marriage to color how she lives her life. It colors the decisions she makes and it makes her very wary and distrustful. Once burned, twice shy.

Lady Josephine Smyth-Waters was the daughter of a small village vicar – one of several sisters. All of her older sisters had already married vicars of their own, but that isn’t what Jo wanted for herself. That left her ripe for the picking when a handsome, charming, titled man arrived in their village and expressed an interest in her seventeen-year-old self. She was dizzyingly, dazzlingly, giddily in love and they were married within two weeks. Sadly, it didn’t take long for her to see the grave error she’d made. She’d never trust love again!

Over the last ten years, Jo along with her friends Caro (The Merry Viscount) and Pen (What Ales the Earl) created the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children. During the last year, both Caro and Pen have married and moved away, leaving the running of the Home totally on Jo’s shoulders. That isn’t good for Jo because she stresses over the responsibility – she feels she has to do everything herself – she can’t let their residents down. So, when Pen requested her to attend her newly delivered son’s christening and become his godmother – she had to refuse. She just couldn’t leave the Home right now. Ah, there is trickery afoot …

Until a year ago, Edward Russell had been a widowered London solicitor who was raising his young son, Thomas, on his own. While he had always known he was distantly related to Duke of Grainger’s family, he’d never met any of them – nor had he cared to. Then, a tragic set of events propels Edward into the title and his life isn’t his own any longer. He intended to follow expectations and marry to produce the spare he supposedly needed, but after a season of attending social functions and meeting simpering, insipid debutantes whose only interest in him was his title, he’d had enough. He was so grateful to be able to leave to attend the christening of his friend’s child – and to become its godfather.

I absolutely adored Edward and his son Thomas. He was a wonderful, loving, involved father who had no intention of marrying someone who didn’t love his son. It was wonderful to see Jo and Edward meet and come to care for each other. Jo had serious trust issues – not only didn’t she trust men in general, but she also didn’t trust herself or her own judgment.

This was a wonderfully straightforward love story without the navel-gazing, angsty, woe-is-me you see in so many books. It was well-written with humor, romance, wonderful characters, and the most delightful bear of a dog – named Bear. I hope you’ll love it as much as I did.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for ChasingLeslie.
326 reviews45 followers
August 28, 2021
Josephine, Lady Havenrigde, has spent years building up a safe haven for women and children. But when those same women conspire to accept an invitation on her behalf, she finds herself suddenly on the way to the christening party for the Earl of Darrow’s baby. Edward Russell was a solicitor before fate shook the branches of his family tree and made him Duke of Grainger. On a mission to find a new wife and mother for his son, Edward is thrilled to find someone like Jo that he truly connects with.

This is the third book in the Widow's Brew series, where three ladies brew ale to fund a charity Home. I recommend reading all three stories as the friendships are connected throughout.

This is a heartwarming romance where everyone is conspiring to push two individuals towards happily ever after, even if the heroine remains very reluctant. The couple has been exchanging letters for over a year, as Jo's Home is on Edward's property. There's an instant spark and Edward is ready to jump right in, but Jo has been unlucky in love and doesn't see another marriage in her future. There was a lot of internal monologuing, but I liked the focus on the couple and thought there were some really cute moments.

Tropes: Matchmaking, Widow, Widower

Steam Rating: 2

* I received an ARC and this is my honest review. #CheersToTheDuke #NetGalley
Profile Image for Trio.
2,900 reviews171 followers
January 18, 2022
Cute and a little bit corny, but very enjoyable all the same. I enjoy books about more mature characters, and both the mc's are in their 30's. Plus Jo is a total feminist, and takes care of herself first. Cheers to her.
Profile Image for Beverly.
9 reviews6 followers
February 8, 2022
I enjoyed the first two books in the series and was exited to read Jo’s story. However, I found this one to be shallow and repetitive.
Profile Image for Tracy Emro.
1,732 reviews45 followers
October 13, 2021
3.5 stars

Jo, the widowed Baroness Havenridge and the director of The Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and the Unfortunate Children – AKA The Home is attending the christening of her friend and former co-worker, Pen, Lady Darrow. An invitation that Jo had declined, but that Livy Williams, a former courtesan and new employee at the Home, accepted on her behalf. Jo is sure that Livy is trying to push her out and take over the management of the home – something that she will never let happen! But unfortunately, she can’t refuse to attend the christening, as Pen asked her to be her son’s godmother. She resigns herself to the visit but vows to put Livy in her place once she returns.

Edward Russell, the new Duke of Grainger, father to Thomas, and widower is also attending the christening as Lord Darrow is one of his closest friends. Edward is still adjusting to his new position and has decided that it is time to remarry. He loved his late wife, but he admits that he is lonely and would like to have more children. He has been supporting the Home for months and has gotten to know Jo through their correspondence, but he is not prepared for the immediate attraction he feels for her when they meet face to face for the first time. It doesn’t take long for Edward to decide that Jo would be the perfect duchess for him and he sets out to woo her.

Jo’s previous marriage was far from perfect and the whole experience left her with a strong resolve to never remarry. She also harbors fears about her age and her inability to produce an heir for her late husband, but none of this stops Edward from trying to convince her that she is the one he wants. Jo won’t commit to marriage, but agrees to an affair – just for the duration of the house party, and vows to keep her heart intact. Ah, the best-laid plans…

This was a very nicely paced, well-written story with likable characters and cameos from the previous characters. The book has a lot going for it, great secondary characters, not too much angst, a more mature couple than is usually portrayed, warm love scenes, second chances, and touches on sensitive topics like losing a beloved spouse, infertility, and personal insecurities, before concluding in a very sweet HEA. I liked this story, but I have to confess that I found the fact that Edward had been lovers with Livy a bit offputting and gave the story an unneeded/unwanted ick factor. I also felt while I did sympathize with her previous experience with marriage, that Jo was too stubborn for too long and her resistance just made the story drag. Overall, it was a fun read and I am glad I read it.
Profile Image for Susan.
4,225 reviews89 followers
September 14, 2021
Fun book. Jo, Lady Havenridge, and her two friends Caro and Pen started the Benevolent Home years earlier to help women who had nowhere else to go. The Home partially supports itself by running a brewery and alehouse and partially with the financial support of the Duke of Grainger. Jo corresponds with the Duke regularly. Caro and Pen married and moved on to life with their husbands in the past year, though they are still peripherally involved with the Home. They also remain friends with Jo and support her as best they can. Jo is a bit of a control freak, and with her friends gone, she feels she must do it all herself, despite offers from others to help. It's become so bad that some of the ladies collaborate with Caro and Pen to get Jo to the christening of Pen's son as the boy's godmother. Jo arrives at Darrow to find that Pen and Caro have matchmaking on their minds, with Edward and Jo as their targets.

Edward was a solicitor until recently when he unexpectedly inherited the title of Duke of Grainger. The widowed father of a seven-year-old son, Edward wants a mother for Thomas and a wife who can be a partner for him. Attending the ton's ballrooms does nothing to improve his opinion of the nobility, and the available ladies are not what he wants. After a particularly stressful evening, Edward opts for an early arrival at his friend Darrow's home, where he will be the new heir's godfather. He takes Thomas and their dog, Bear, with him.

I loved the first meeting between Jo and Edward. Jo encountered Thomas and Bear first and immediately connected with Thomas. He's a very forthright little boy and jumps right into pleading his case for himself and his father, even though he just met her. Edward arrives shortly after. He is immediately smitten by the woman who interacts so easily with Thomas. While Jo is attracted, her first marriage was so terrible that she has no intention of ever marrying again; additionally, she refuses to give up control of the Home. Be that as it may, Jo and Edward quickly discover that they like each other and enjoy spending time together. I liked how Jo found herself relaxing and enjoying her time away, especially with Edward and Thomas, and she irritated me when she kept forcing herself to put the Home first.

When Edward and Jo gave into the attraction between them, Edward had high hopes that it would lead Jo to marriage with him. He accepts that he's already fallen in love with her. Jo suspects that she loves him, too, but after her first marriage is wary of trusting the speed of those feelings. I liked how Edward respected her fears and feelings, giving her the time she needed to believe in what they could have together. I loved the ending, as Edward shows up at the Home to plead his case just as Jo receives some unexpected news. Once they get past some insecurity-induced misunderstandings, seeing them finally admit their feelings made a fantastic ending. The epilogue was a terrific wrap-up.

This book was a lot of fun to read. The interactions between Jo and Edward ranged from fun and flirty to serious and deeply emotional. Edward's son Thomas stole the show with his sweet care and worry for his father and conviction that Jo was precisely what they needed. The dog, Bear, certainly kept things interesting with his enthusiasm and occasionally awkward interference. I loved the close relationship between Jo, Caro, and Pen, though Caro and Pen may have been a little too enthusiastic in their attempts to get Edward and Jo together. That much pressure tended to make Jo dig in her heels rather than agree that she and Edward were right for each other. The dinner scene was both funny and uncomfortable because of two women who had no filters regarding gossip, Jo, and Edward. One of the funniest scenes was at the end when Livy explained to Jo why she didn't feel good.

#netgalley
Profile Image for Janet.
3,492 reviews30 followers
October 4, 2021
4.5 Stars
As the founder of the Home for mothers & daughters, Jo, the widowed Lady Havenridge, is determined to be there for the women who need her. But when those same women conspire to accept an invitation on her behalf, she finds herself suddenly on the way to the Earl of Darrow’s home for the christening party of the son of her long time friend and former partner, Pen, now the Countess of Darrow. Guests will include her other former partner, Caro—and Edward Russell, the new Duke of Grainger and the Home’s generous benefactor. Even after a year, the title of “duke” still sits strangely on former solicitor Edward Russell’s shoulders. But the responsibilities of the title are his duty, no matter his less-than-positive opinion of the nobility. When Edward encounters Jo—capable, fun, and utterly irresistible--he’s delighted to find someone he truly connects with.
This is the third book in the series & whilst its easily read on its own I personally would recommend reading the series in order. I love the name of the Home Jo runs, it’s name always brings a smile to my face. I'm also glad that Jo finds love. Edward & Jo have both been married, have both lost their spouses & are in their mid thirties. They are attracted to each other from their first meeting & are quickly smitten but whilst Edward has moved on Jo is still haunted by her first marriage. I loved how their relationship grew & changed all the time aided & abetted by friends, Edwards son Thomas & a huge dog called Bear. I found this well written book to be heart warming & had me smiling & shedding a tear or two. I loved how the epilogue rounded off the series tying everything up very nicely indeed
My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read
Profile Image for Candy Briggs.
731 reviews9 followers
July 28, 2021
Lady Josephine Havenridge is a widow. She started Home as a sanctuary for women and children in dire need. Her two friends helped her run it, but the ladies had gotten married and moved with their husbands. She was feeling the pressure of having all the responsibility. She had been invited to her friend's house for a Christening.
Edward Russell, the Duke of Grainger, also had a christening to go to. He was looking for a wife. A year ago he had been a solicitor and now a duke. His young son, Thomas needed a mother. He could not handle the ton anymore. So he left early. He had been helping with the home, and he was excited he was going to meet the founder. They had been writing for at least a year. So they all got packed up, including bear and Thomas, and off they went.
This was a really cute story. I even giggled some. It was funny and encouraging. When she saw her friends again I enjoyed reading about the hugs and excitement among the three women. Jo's interaction with the other house guests was fun to read. It was wonderfully written and very entertaining. I highly recommend this novel and hope you like it as much as I did.
I received this ARC from Net Galley and voluntarily reviewed it.
Profile Image for Fae.
766 reviews22 followers
August 17, 2022
My first book from this author.

I was enchanted by the naturalness and the banter between Edward and Jo. They just really got along well very much once they met, which I’m sure was due to the fact that they corresponded with each other for a year prior to meeting in person.

However there was the issue of their romance moving too fast and suddenly they realized they were in love with each other.

It would have been better if we were shown examples of the letters they exchanged, and more bonding between them. As it was, I could not believe in their rushed romance.

Also, I felt the sex scenes could be improved. It was quite short and not sexy at all. The conversations amongst Jo and her two friends took up too much time, which could have been spent on developing their romance instead.

Nevertheless, it was very nice to see Jo getting along with Edward and Thomas. It was refreshing to see a very simple plot, with no murder, machinations or miscommunication trope.
Profile Image for Margarida.
199 reviews2 followers
July 8, 2021
I love our heroine, Jo. She's a widow who has pulled herself up by her bootstrings. She's established a home for other women and girls who need a leg up. She's been corresponding with the Duke, Edward, for like a year. Thank goodness the old guy is such a kind benefactor. Jo is feeling a little restless since her co-founders have married and moved on. She has everything on her shoulders. Now, she's been invited for the christening of the happy result of her friend's marriage. No way can she go. Unfortunately for her, her frenemy has gone behind her back and arranged for a 2-week trip. Worn down... she accepts. Once there, she meets an amazing little boy and his dog. They hit it off right away. He happens to be the son of the widower Duke Edward... who by the way... is not a kind old man. Gulp. He is young and handsome... and taken with her right away. Jo has said she'd never chance another marriage. Lovely story of second chances!!!
Profile Image for Jenna.
1,686 reviews18 followers
December 13, 2021
The story is dragged out but it's sweet & charming so I just read along for the cute ride.
Profile Image for Margaret Watkins.
2,639 reviews51 followers
October 3, 2021
This is the first book I have read in the series, but I have always enjoyed the author's writing. I found this romance lighthearted and entertaining with a gentlemanly hero and a woman who is determined to stand on her own two feet. The Dule of Grainger has made no secret of the fact that he is looking for a wife and a mother to his son. However, it is young Thomas who makes himself known to Lady Jo and makes his feelings heard on the subject. As Edward and Jo are thrown together by well-meaning friends, Jo experiences a certain amount of frustration, especially as she has determined to remain single and never again to allow herself to be put under the domination of any man. However, she cannot ignore her attraction towards Edward and also finds herself softening towards his son and his dog. Taking time and patience to win her over, Edward eventually breaks through the barriers, bringing this novel to a happy conclusion. I received a copy of this novel as a gift through NetGalley and this is my honest and voluntary review.
Profile Image for Lisa C.
620 reviews15 followers
June 30, 2021
Enchanting story of Jo, the widowed Lady Havenridge, and founder of the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children, and Edward Russell, the new Duke of Grainger. Jo is an independent, strong woman determined to never marry again, and Edward is a man looking for a wife and mother for his son. Loved the turn around of the characters, as usually it's the man who is not wanting marriage. Loved both these characters and Thomas, Edward's son, was also a favourite. Well written and keeps the reader engaged. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Brenda.
2,296 reviews21 followers
August 14, 2021
This is an amazing story.
Jo and Edward are so much in love but neither one wants to admit it.
The truth will prevail.
Sally Mackenzie has written a amazing story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinion of this book which I read and reviewed voluntarily.
Profile Image for Mina.
404 reviews16 followers
July 22, 2021
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Yes! I loved Jo. I have a soft spot for independent and courageous heroines, especially in historical romance. Jo is a widow and founder of the Benevolent Home, how fosters anyone that has been abandoned, abused, ridicule, or left on the shelf, and is looking for a way to better their life. The aging Duke of Grainer, benefactor, and someone that Jo has been exchanging letters with for years and also looking for a wife and mother for his son. Jo goes on a trip and there she meets a little boy and his dog, also the father: a young man. Who happens to be the not so "aging" Duke of Grainer. It's love a first sight, at least for him, Jo takes a little convincing.
634 reviews8 followers
July 21, 2021
Jo, a widow, is not looking for any kind of romance when she reluctantly attends a christening. Widower, Edward, is taking a break from looking for a woman to become his wife and a mother to his son when he attends a christening. Thrown together by meddling adults, they eventually realize that what they have is special. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Kensington Books for my honest review.
Profile Image for Sandi aka Maudley.
790 reviews16 followers
August 10, 2022
I usually don't care for dithering heroines, but Jo just tickled me with her conversations with herself and Freddie. I am sorry to see this series end. The writing is clear, descriptive and carries the story along at a good pace. I'll truly miss Little Puddleton's ladies and the Home.
Profile Image for Ghazal.
295 reviews5 followers
July 8, 2021
I received "Cheers to the Duke" from Netgalley and voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Sally MacKenzie is an amazing author whose sense of humor is absolutely amazing. The witty dialog between all the characters is refreshing and constantly gave me a smile. Lady Jo Havenridge and Edward Russell, the Duke of Grainger have both lost their spouses and are attending the same Christening party. The Duke, who was not long ago a solicitor, is now looking for  wife not only for his son, but also to ensure the continuation of the Dukedom. Lady Jo, has been running a home for destitute women and is happy with all that she has accomplished since her husband's demise. Yet, the instant attraction between the two has them rethinking their futures as to the reasons why their plans for the future may be flawed. Absolutely loved this story.
Profile Image for Turureta.
14 reviews
Read
June 25, 2021
Cheers to the Duke is the third book of the Widow's Brew series. I haven't read the previous ones, but that is not a problem, this novel can be read as a stand-alone.
These characters have a lot of worries and we witness their thought processes. This is a book with a lot of thoughts, the protagonists, as much as human beings probably, go around and around ideas, concerns and the reader is spectator, there are no secrets. We know it all via the omniscience of the third-person narrator.
The structure of the book follows a pattern: her thought process: she worries, she finds something she likes, she wants… His thought process: he worries, he finds something he likes, he wants that is the same she wanted, liked in the previous round or that she will like or want in the next.
If this is your type of book, you'll enjoy it. Not my cup of tea.

An ARC of this book has been provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review and that is what I gave here.
Profile Image for C.J. Butcher.
Author 2 books3 followers
July 3, 2021
This book made me go and read the other 2 in the series. It was soooo good and I loved the time period it was set in. You'll definitely love this if you like Regency or Historical.
Profile Image for Christy.
265 reviews5 followers
June 23, 2021
I enjoyed the other books in the Widow’s Brew series and was excited to read the concluding book, Cheers to the Duke. It was a sweet, sexy story. An uncomplicated escapist Regency romance.

Lady Havenridge is a widow from an unhappy marriage who’s not sure she wants to give up her freedom to be married again, but she does acknowledge her loneliness as she has lengthy conversations with her dog.

The Duke of Grainger is a former solicitor who suddenly inherited the dukedom and is actively looking for a wife and mother for his young son.

Meddling friends see to it that they have close proximity at a house party to try to make a match of two people who so rightly belong together.

Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
445 reviews4 followers
June 19, 2021
I recieved a free copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the third book in the widow's brew series and while the characters for the previous books make appearances, this can be read as a stand alone.
Jo has been running the Home for widow's and other women with children alone since her partners got married.
Edward was a solicitor but now is the duke and must find a wife.
They have communicated about the home for a year as Edward is a benefactor of the Home but a house party may lead to more. Especially with everyone conspiring to bring them together including Edward's son.
I liked that they had a relationship before the met at the house party so it wasn't instalove.
I liked Edward. He was charming and sweet and allowed Jo the opportunity to discovered what she wanted.
Profile Image for Elodie’s Reading Corner.
2,395 reviews109 followers
September 16, 2021
🍾 Cheers to the Duke 🍾
The Widow's Brew Series Book 3
✒️ Sally MacKenzie
https://www.facebook.com/sallymackenz...
Release Date 09/28/2021
Publisher Kensington Books
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CBM66LX/...

𝗕𝗹𝘂𝗿𝗯

In USA Today bestselling author Sally MacKenzie’s intoxicatingly romantic series, the “fallen” ladies of Puddledon Manor’s Benevolent Home are restoring their reputations—and their future prospects—by operating their very own brewery and alehouse . . .
 
As the founder of the Home, Jo, the widowed Lady Havenridge, is determined to be there for the women who need her. But when those same women conspire to accept an invitation on her behalf, she finds herself suddenly on the way to the Earl of Darrow’s home for the christening party of the son of her longtime friend and former partner, Pen, now the Countess of Darrow. Guests will include her other former partner, Caro—and Edward Russell, the new Duke of Grainger and the Home’s generous benefactor. While Jo is determined to resist her friends’ matchmaking ways, the duke’s handsome looks and charming words are enough to make the lovely widow a little reckless . . .
 
Even after a year, the title of “duke” still sits strangely on Edward Russell’s shoulders. But the responsibilities of the title are his duty, no matter his less-than-positive opinion of the nobility. When Edward encounters Jo—capable, fun, and utterly irresistible--he’s delighted to find someone he truly connects with. A trick of fate has placed them on two different paths . . . but Edward is beginning to realize that perhaps he’s notthe kind of man who does the expected thing after all . . .

𝗥𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄

Will she be able to put the past to rest and open herself to a new venture …

Here is I suppose the last book in this series as now all three women who started the Home have or will find a new one.
Jo was the one who came up with the idea and it nourished her bruised soul for years. Upon a disaster of a marriage which left her even more insecure than prior it, she had no place to call home, nor money to spare or even children to dote on. But with her friends happily married, she worries, so much, too much.
Thus why she was coerced in attending the christening of her friend’s son. A respite for everyone.
Edward should never have been a Duke if fate had not sawed a whole branch from his family tree. So here he is, and everyone reminds him he smells of trade. Not unexpected for a barrister.
Still, he is the Duke now, and believe his duty is to marry again. But the marriage mart does not attract him and his every attempts point how much an outsider he is. Still for his motherless son he pursues this venue. But a rest is needed and his friend’s party a welcome change.

So here they are trapped together as everyone around them has decided they were the perfect match for one another. Edward is this quite willing to follow the idea when Jo struggles a bit more, dampened by her past mistakes. I first thought her too guarded, but she made once a dramatic mistake, and no one should have to make a life altering decision in a matter of days. Their chemistry is what brings them together but they will need trust and faith to go forward.
I loved Jo’s cautions, she wants all her wits about her before engaging herself on a lifelong path. She needs time to reflect on her feelings, a moment out of her daily worries is that, a respite but what when everyday life knocks at the door. Edward despite his certainties is no bully, he wants an eager partner, so he is not one to press but he pleads his case all the while listening to Jo’s doubts, fears and hesitations.
They are perfect together, up to them to see it and going for it.
4.5 stars

𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 onscreen lovemaking scene.

I have been granted an advance copy by the publisher, here is my true and unbiased opinion.

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Profile Image for Jenna.
610 reviews26 followers
September 16, 2021
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cheers To The Duke is fun, spirited, and romantic. This is a tale of two mature adults with plenty of life experience that finds that there is such a thing as second chances at happiness. From matchmaking to house parties to secret assignations, this book will charm, and you will root for a happy ending for these two deserving people.

Jo, the widowed Lady Havenridge, has put her heart and soul into the brewery that empowers and employs destitute women with their daughters. With both of Jo’s partners recently married, she is burdened with all the worries and difficulties of the entire operation. Jo is a spunky character. She is consumed with her work to the point of obsession. Jo has forgotten how to smile and enjoy life. Jo is so absorbed in helping others that she has forgotten she needs to see to her happiness, not just the satisfaction of running the home. I felt Jo was a lonely soul, unconsciously looking for someone to complete her. To her detriment, Jo’s singular focus could be frustrating at times, but it helped build her strong, independent nature. Jo was a force to be reckoned with.

Edward Russell, the new Duke Of Grainger, was a solicitor and widower who received the dukedom due to a freak occurrence of the death to all the immediate heirs. Edward has the most adorable son, Thomas, who stole every scene. Edward has a healthy dislike of the aristocracy as they see him not much above an ordinary worker that infiltrated their ranks. Edward’s love for Thomas is heartwarming and sweet. Edward is lonely, wanting companionship, passion, and a loving mother for his child. Edward’s sense of responsibility and capacity to love makes him a lovable, formidable character. Edward’s caring heart is precious and fragile and needs love and special care. He wants Jo to be the person who makes him whole.

Edward and Jo are thrown together at a house party by a bunch of matchmaker friends. Edward is more hopeful and smitten, where Jo is aggravated and uncertain. The attraction, although a little one-sided, is instantaneous. The couple’s compatibility is evident from their first encounter. The couple’s adventure into passion is full of seduction and a little humor. Jo is skittish and rightfully so due to her past, but I felt aggravated at her at times. The couple’s interaction with Thomas was compelling and handled with love.

The plot was exciting and moved quickly. The pace kept my attention. I enjoyed the premise and found myself cheering for the couple. There were many secondary characters from previous books, but they were well defined without the author re-hashing the previous books. I adored the ending. The entire story had substance without being dragged down with emotional baggage. Cheers To The Duke is the third book in this wonderful series, Widow’s Brew. Sally MacKenzie has done a fantastic job of creating a joyful story of two people on different paths that find happiness with each other. This is an enjoyable, lovable read that lightened my heart and had me believing in happy endings!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through Netgalley and the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for TLynn.
1,191 reviews13 followers
September 30, 2021
Cheers to the Duke is the third book in the Widow’s Brew series by Sally MacKenzie. Reading the series in order is best but the books can be read as stand-alone. The book was well written and a fast read for me. It grabbed my attention from the beginning, and I could not put it down. The series is based on three friends who started the Benevolent Home as a safe place for women and children in need. They rely on the Home’s benefactors but also operate a brewery and alehouse to help with the costs.
Ten years ago, Josephine Smyth-Waters “Jo,” Lady Havenridge, founded the Home for women in need after her husband lost everything and then killed himself. This year she is feeling abandoned after her two partners and friends, Pen and Caro, married and left the Home. She is extremely worried about the crop this year and feels the survival of the Home’s depends entirely on her. Jo receives an invitation to Pen’s baby’s christening, but she is too concerned about the plants and the three new women to the Home to leave. She was especially concerned about Livy who she feels is trying to take over. The Home was her life and without it, she was not sure what she would do. When Livy goes behind her back and accepts Pen’s invitation, Jo is furious but eventually, the women convince Jo she needs a break.
Widowed Edward Russell had been a solicitor in London until a year ago when tragedy strikes, and he becomes the Duke of Grainger. He has raised Thomas, his young son, single-handedly after his wife died from childbirth but he would like more children. He has been attending various events of the Season to find another wife but has been very disappointed. He was glad to finally leave London behind and attend his friend’s baby’s christening. As the main benefactor of the Home, he is excited to finally meet Jo after writing to her for the last year. She is nothing like he expected, and he is instantly charmed by her friendliness and sensibility when he and Thomas meet her. He knows she would make him the perfect wife and a wonderful stepmother for Thomas, but she will need some convincing. Although Jo does not want to remarry, she agrees to consider it during the two weeks they will be there. Can he convince her to let go of some of the control of the Home and allow herself a happy future?
This was a charming second chance romance. Jo and Edward’s love was slow-burning and I enjoyed watching their love and friendship for one another grow. Edward was struggling with all his new responsibilities but was still a patient and wonderful father. I love how he was so concerned about finding a wife who would care for and be a good mother to Thomas. Jo’s character was a little frustrating with her refusal to marry Edward but her fear of making another mistake and instantly falling for a man was understandable after her disappointing first marriage. I was cheering for Edward the entire book and was glad to see Jo finally able to let go of some of the Home’s responsibilities. It was great seeing Caro and Pen again and getting a peek at the new lives. I can’t help but wonder if the series will continue with the newest “fallen” ladies at the Home and look forward to future books.
Profile Image for Jocelynereadsromance.
518 reviews27 followers
September 23, 2021
This novel is such a delight. Sally MacKenzie's tone is conversational and lighthearted and perfectly peppered with appealing and funny moments. MacKenzie's keeps her story low on the angsty and sweet on the charm as hero and heroine learn about accepting another chance at love. I found this novel to be very well paced, sweetly romantic and an absolutely lovely way to spend an afternoon. MacKenzie's character's come to life and feel grounded and real in their reality, she charms the reader with loving and adorable children and she gives the plot some spice with meddling friends.

Jo, is a widow and has been running a charity home for women and their daughters to help them have a safe place to live while getting back on their feet. Jo is strong and independent and has her mind set only on the success of her home. Edward, has recently inherited a dukedom, he is a hard worker and not use to the socialite class. Edward is also a widower and he is a single father, and recently he has been on the look for a wife, but has not been enchanted by the youthful elite he meets in the ballrooms. Edward and Jo have spent the last year corresponding through letters because Edward now owns the land that Jo's charity home is located on. The setting of this romance takes place on the country estate of mutual friends for their son's christening which both hero and heroine are to be godparents. Upon first meeting, both Jo and Edward are attracted to each other and Thomas, Edward's son, is halfway in love with Jo as a mother like figure. As the two week country party progresses, rumors, hints and nudges that Edward and Jo should strike up a romance dance around the guests, and Jo and Edward find themselves falling fast in love with the other.

This story was just so sweet and lovely. It was nice to watch two people in their thirties who had been married before learn that love can strike again. I also loved that because their love came upon them pretty quickly that there was some foundation work that had already taken place because these two have been getting to know each other intellectually through correspondence. I love that both Jo and Edward had a respect for each other that could grow into a new sort of admiration. I also loved that Jo and Thomas were able to have such a sweet and endearing relationship on their own, Jo respected Thomas and talked to him like a normal person and not a child. I also love that we were able to see how wonderful of a father Edward was to Thomas and how he wants what is best for his son, and watching Jo's interaction with Thomas and other children really helps him to solidify in his mind that she will make the perfect wife and mother for him. I love that when Jo needs space, Edward hears her and gives her this space, it shows that he is very thoughtful and caring. Their relationship is sweetly sensual and just an utter delight.

I would highly recommend this novel, especially if you are looking for a low angst historical romance that will leave you with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.
Profile Image for Lisa.
393 reviews12 followers
November 27, 2021
This is book three in the series and I am sad to have missed the first two. That has been remedied and they are on my tablet awaiting me.

This is a fun, fast paced story of second chances. Jo and Edward have a few mutual friends who have no problem playing matchmaker. Thankfully, they are both open to the idea of together, they just have different definitions. I enjoyed this book for it's humor, sparks and occasional trip past inappropriate behavior by other house party participants.... Gossip being the behavior. It had me chuckling and turning pages. Ms. Mackenzie has a lovely gift for creating characters you instantly identify with and you are quickly cheering them on.

I liked the many sides of Jo fiercely independent, loyal, strong yet tender hearted and compassionate. Unfortunately for her, her first trip down the altar left her nonplussed and wary of any man, more so members of the ton. This wariness is the vulnerable part that Edward sees and it brings out his protective nature. It is nice that he still allows her her independence, but is there by her side should she have need of him. A great balance for them both.

Edward is just as multifaceted with the added weight of a small son. His fierce protective side extends from his wanting to fond a wife and mother for his son. He doesn't want just anyone and that comes across gracefully in the tender moments he shares with Thomas, his son. I liked the fact he didn't take his position as Duke to mean he was entitled to anything. He saw it as the responsibility it is to not only those dependent on him, but to the rest of society through his having been outside of the ton before inheriting the dukedom.

This second chance for both Jo and Edward was helped along by amazing secondary characters that despite this being book three, you feel you already know if you haven't read the other two. The friendship and closeness between Jo, Caro and Pen is the kind you want in your own life. Each looking out for the others, wanting the best for them and not feeling terribly bad about manipulating things in a friend's favor.

Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in anyway.
345 reviews
September 23, 2021
while this is the 3rd book in the series, it can be read on it's own. After a short and unhappy marriage, widow Jo has dedicated herself to her charity to help less fortunate women and children via the home she has created for them and takes pride in keeping it funded and managing it. a year ago, widowed father Edward's life was turned upside down when a distant relation & his heirs suddenly died resulted in his going from solicitor to duke, a position that he never expected or imagined. He's spent that time learning and understanding the dukedom and the ton's social requirements (& marriage mart). The house party for the christening of his friend's new son is the perfect and timely escape he needs from those social headaches as well as giving him a chance to spend time with his son. It also provides the opportunity for Jo and Edward (who has continued the dukedom's sponsorship of Jo's home) to meet in person after a year of correspondence regarding the home. Jo and Edward's romance is enjoyable as they match well and bring out hidden parts to the other. Unfortunately I tended to find Jo a bit frustrating (particularly early in the book) where she tended to be a bit silly/insecure at times which contrasted with the confidence and ability needed to created and successfully manage her charity for the prior 10 years. Jo's interaction with her friends as well as her & Edward's interactions with his young son were all nicely done and added to the overall story. The romance was nicely paced and the both parties' hesitancy/concerns regarding remarriage were well addressed and handled. Over all, other than what felt to me like some inconsistency in Jo's character, the story made for an enjoyable read.

arc courtesy of net galley in exchange for a fair & honest review
Profile Image for Brandi Day.
93 reviews
September 17, 2021
This is the third book in a trilogy by Sally MacKenzie who I have to say is one of my latest go-to authors. She writes fun, compelling characters with interesting backstories and then puts them in difficult situations to see how they work it out. This series has been no different.

I will admit that this book was my least favorite of the trilogy, but I certainly enjoyed it. True to form Josephine was a character with a lot of issues to work through. Although she was featured in the previous two books, little was revealed about her (so you won't have missed anything if you start here). It is only with this book that you understand why the Benevolent Home is so important to her, enough that it becomes a stumbling block for her on her way to true love.

Likewise, Edward was introduced in the first of the series and instantly likable, but even more so here when we see him interact with his son. That is how you get to know the true measure of a man (or woman). He was not quite what I expected, but he was a lovely, wonderful man. Certainly, he was no Duke. I think that is the hardest part to wrap your head around as a reader. He is a Duke in name only, never by word or by deed.

The book is somewhat sedate and lacking in conflict, yet it manages to compel quite a bit of emotional angst for the reader because the characters are so wonderful. Even as they float into and out of their relationship, you want so much for them to be happy, that you often feel more than they seem to.

If you have been reading the series, you will enjoy having all of the characters back together again for the christening of the first baby in the group. If you are new to the series, you will want to get to know the rest of them after you read this.
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