The romance of her heroine’s ‘rebellious’ red hair is much more of a feature in the Duchess of York’s historical novel than sex

She is a spirited, Titian-haired, freckled beauty, whose curls just won’t quit. While initially submitting to the strictures of high society and the tribulations of the marriage market, she endures a pasting from the press before emerging triumphant, throwing off the weight of expectations to become her true self. And write a children’s book.

The heroine of the Duchess of York’s debut novel for adults, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, bears no small resemblance to its author, in both looks and life story. Her Heart for a Compass is out on Tuesday from romance publisher Mills & Boon, but readers hoping for the sexy shenanigans usually found in the publisher’s output will be disappointed. While Margaret indulges in a handful of kisses, and at one point has a man “adjusting his kilt, swearing under his breath”, the pleasures she experiences are all very much above the waistline.

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