Book Review – The Duke of Hand to Heart by Jackie North

Royal Powers #6
Publisher: Blue Rain Press
Pages: 138
Characters: Merrick/Ryan
POV: 3rd
Genre: Paranormal, Shared Universe

Duke of Camprodon, Rainmaker, Merrick Blackburn’s life is coming apart. His groom left him at the altar days before the wedding and he’s been accused of causing a drought by Tarik, the Duke of Arles.

Merrick’s winery, Hand to Heart, one of the oldest in the land, is in jeopardy, due to neglect and that dang drought. Most of his staff has left, and he’s on the verge of going broke.

Desperate, Merrick hires handsome Ryan McGrail as steward to bring the vineyard back to life. But Ryan distracts Merrick from the job at hand and Merrick isn’t sure, but Ryan might be flirting with him.

Ryan lost his last job protecting his cousin from abuse. Ryan hates being in the spotlight shining on the Duke, but he needs a job and needs it quick. He’s not sure, but is Merrick flirting with him?

Will the growing feelings between them save the winery? Will it ever rain? Will Merrick ever make it to the altar?

Buy Link


I’m loving the Royal Powers shared world and thought this was a wonderful addition to it. I enjoyed Merrick and Ryan’s sweet, low angst story, and got drawn into it very quickly.

I liked both men as individuals and the chemistry between them. I thought they complemented each other well with Ryan being the steady, practical caring rock Merrick needs. I liked Merrick’s compassion and how he doesn’t stand on ceremony or rank, and starts new traditions like sharing meals with his staff. I liked how his ability is tied into his emotions, and I loved the tangible feel of the emotions between him and Ryan, and the friendship they build alongside their romance.

I also liked Temple, Ryan’s cousin, and would love to read his story. One of the things I’m especially loving about this shared world is how other characters from earlier stories pop into later ones. I enjoyed seeing Sander and Tavik from another perspective, and the friendship between Sander and Merrick.

Cassian, Merrick’s ex, comes across as a total sleeze, and I hope he gets what he deserves.

The descriptions of the setting and characters were wonderful, and I found them very easy to imagine. I thought they were very atmospheric, no pun intended considering Merrick’s power.

The ending was very satisfying and the HEA I’ve come to expect from this author, who is one of my autoreads. 5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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