- File Size: 3410 KB
- Print Length: 264 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Universal Romance (October 20, 2017)
- Publication Date: October 20, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B076MVNDWP
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,598 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$12.99|
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Dukes, Duels & Daring: A Russian Regency Romance (The Lvov Family Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Dukes, Duels & Daring is the fist book I’ve read by this author, and I think it might be the first book I’ve read that takes place during the Regency period in Russia, so I was excited for something a little different, a little outside the London ton scene. Victoria Wright lends a unique and creative voice to the historical romance genre.
I enjoyed the trip to Russia in 1818. Rich descriptions on the customs (bathing houses, superstitious rituals) and people of the time period are definitely one of the book’s strong points.
There are a lot of characters to sift through. It became confusing at times to keep everyone straight because the characters are referred to by their proper name and also by their many, many nicknames (but, the characters even joke about all the names they have for one another). The author does provide a type of family list at the end of the book, as well as a Russian glossary for the words and phrases used.
The story begins in France in 1818. Isabelle, 18-year-old daughter of a baron, is set to wed a Duke named Henri (this is the Duke of the story, but he’s only in it for a brief time). It’s not a love match, but he’s a decent enough catch. Isabelle wants more, but because of familial pressures, she’ll give in to the demands to wed. Sebastian is a Russian Prince, who also happens to be a distant cousin of Henri’s. Sebastian has been briefly exiled to France following a duel gone badly in his mother country. We learn later on that Sebastian is 22 years old, which surprised me because he comes across as so much older. He’s been in France a little over a year and longs to return home.
I really liked the beginning of this book. Sebastian has a bit of a “Darcy” –esque vibe going on. He has a few encounters with Isabelle, where he doesn’t endear himself to her. He insults her and is pretty nasty, all in the name of finding her intriguing but not wanting to own up to the fact. Isabelle is feisty and gives it right back to him. She’s not a wallflower and it’s refreshing that she stands up for herself. We quickly learn that Sebastian harbors strong feelings for Isabelle, and through a series of events (what in the world were the reasons for the guy in the stables?) ends up asking for her hand in marriage. He’s a romantic and wants to save her from a loveless fate. By this time he’s already admitted he’s in love with her. A little too insta-love on his part, considering the only time we readers see these two together they are verbally (and at one point physically) sparring. Isabelle, though she’s attracted to Sebastian, doesn’t declare love, but she has a horrible mother (really, one of the worst I’ve read in this genre) and knows that her only way to survive once she denies the Duke is to leave with Sebastian.
These beginning scenes were great. Nice tension between the characters, lovely relationships between Isabelle and her friends Kitty and Jacqueline (loved the cats and dogs scenes!) There is a duel (the only one in the book), and tender scenes of Isabelle helping to nurse Sebastian back to full health.
It’s now time for the married hero and heroine to leave France and make the arduous journey to Russia. Now, this could have been a fantastic time for Isabelle and Sebastian to get to know each other, stolen moment scenes in coaching inns; instead the story fast-forwards for about the six-week journey. We’re told that Isabelle is learning the Russian language and learning about Sebastian’s large extended family, and that they haven’t been intimate yet or consummated their marriage. Isabelle never questions this, even though she was always refreshingly outspoken up to this point. This seemed like such a pivotal point in their relationship, so much alone time, but we didn’t see any of it and it made me feel quite detached from the characters at this point (considering how fun they were at the beginning, even when bickering!)
The second half of this book was full of nice, descriptive details, but there were a lot of characters that just didn’t seem to advance the plot. Sebastian and Isabelle spend more time apart than together. The “sex” scenes are pretty clean and tame. Nothing really more graphic than kissing, then fade to black.
We see Sebastian leave on a very long journey with his cousin, where he meets up with old friends and acquaintances (in order to “right a wrong” done to a Grand Princess, but I don’t want to give spoilers), We don’t hear from Isabelle for a long time. How is she fairing in the strange country? How is Sebastian’s family treating her? I wanted to have some of her story. She seemed to have lost a lot of her gumption after leaving France.
So, while I loved the potential for the romance at the beginning of the book, I don’t think it was fully realized. There’s a HUGE unresolved issue that I wish had been brought to Isabelle’s attention in this book, instead of dragging it on to a second. The book ends on a happy–for-now, with lies and omissions hanging over their heads.
I enjoyed this book. It kept my attention and I think there are some really good bones to the story, the author has a nice way of phrasing and dialogue (though sometimes a bit too modern sounding), even if some of the plot and characterizations needed to be tightened. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next book to see what’s in store.
Thank you to the author for a copy of this book for review.
As this is the first Russian Regency novel I've ever seen, I was immediately intrigued. And that really is the story's strongest point. The details about Russian culture are fascinating, and though I don't know much about Russia, I got the feeling that the author does. That definitely comes across in the writing.
As to the characters themselves, I didn't like them at first. The whole "I like you so that's why tease you and are mean to you" trope irritates me, and so Prince Sebastian comes across as a bully when we first meet him. Isabelle herself seems a little modern for the era and her own attitude towards the prince seemed uncalled for. The other characters are introduced to us so fast it was difficult to keep track of them.
Given that I read an ARC, there were some misspellings and punctuation errors that were enough to jar me out of the story. Hopefully these were addressed before the book's release. There were multiple instances of modern words (i.e OK, which is an Americanism with its origin coming about in 1840). Isabelle is also referred to as Lady Fontaine on occasion, when she ought to have been The Honorable Isabelle Fontaine. I'm also not fond of novels that are left with nothing really resolved.
There is something about this book, though, that had my interest, and I think it does come down to where it is set.
I received a free copy from the author for reviewing purposes.