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The Duke's Holiday (The Regency Romp Trilogy) Paperback – April 7, 2015
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About the Author
Maggie Fenton is an avid reader, reviewer, and writer of romance in between her work as a professional musician. She writes steampunk romance under the name Margaret Foxe and has enjoyed success as a self-published author in that genre. The Duke's Holiday is her first foray into the historical romance genre, one of her personal favorites.
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We have the requisite powerful, slightly bored, extremely handsome and wealthy Duke – newly engaged to the perfect woman for his station in life. Of course, he wouldn’t stoop to such a lowering emotion as love – this was purely a business arrangement. She was beautiful and cold – exactly what he wanted and planned for his life.
Now, here’s the twist. Closer examination of the Duke reveals some quirks. He is severely OCD – fastidious to a fault with his dress, his cravats, his boots, his hair, his food, his books – in short – everything around him. Additionally, he faints at the sight of blood and gets deathly sick riding in a closed carriage. These issues are introduced so vividly that as a reader you can actually feel his discomfort when things are out of order.
Naturally, the people he employs cater to his every whim. After all – he’s THE DUKE, Montford. It’s only to be expected – and all his life he’s met with no obstructions to his prestige or wishes. Until the day he meets Astrid Honeywell.
And, then the story begins…In a perfect pairing, the author introduces him to a heroine who is everything he’s never encountered before. She has shockingly red hair, disordering his senses from day one. Worse yet, her eyes are different colors – and if that weren’t bad enough – she has freckles! She lives in a crooked castle (that he owns), has a wildly rambunctious family and runs a brewery. She is fiercely independent and outspoken without apology. She is not at all in awe of his title or position - and he's never quite encountered anyone remotely like her in his life.. All these things drive him crazy, but his life is just beginning to be turned upside down. And what a tale it is...
I don’t think it’s giving anything away to tell you he falls for her – hard. And, she for him. Despite the attraction, they both valiantly fight against it, as they are total polar opposites. He never quite has time to mention his fiancée – but you’ll have to read it for yourself to see how that plays out. One complication after another ensues, but each is more delightful and fun than the one before. I absolutely loved it. I loved the humor, it was so very well done. I loved the author’s voice – it was genuinely witty and utterly charming. The banter was totally entertaining and this was another book that I hated to see end.
On a much smaller scale we see Astrid transform, or at least come to a realization, that her family can and will survive without her overseeing every aspect of their lives.
To that end we have an H&H who are kindred spirits in the responsibility arena. And that's where the similarities stop. To say that they get along like oil and water (for 95% of the story) is putting it too mildly.
Astrid's characterization was ridiculous in the extreme, a 26 year old who acts like a spoiled teenager. She runs a business, stomps, rants, flails, yells, wears trousers, has bluestocking tendencies, curses, has flaming red hair, freckles and curves -- you get the picture. Basically every independent Regency-era heroine cliché was rolled into one woman. (Oh, and these outstanding qualities garnered her two offers of marriage by upstanding community members, the vicar included.) Hmmm....
Montford was the more sympathetic of the two leading characters, especially given his traumatic childhood history, although his OCD and unbending will became tiresome rather quickly. The chemistry he and Astrid shared was exciting and suspenseful at times but the constant (and I do mean constant) bickering and immature behavior ruined the anticipation in many parts of the story.
(Astrid kicks a ladder down when Montford is at the top of it because she's mad he followed her? Montford ties her hands up for their carriage ride after Lightfoot threw her in a carriage, tied her up and beat her? How is that romantic, Montford?)
There are some amusing segments to the story which kept it moving at a good pace. I just wish there had been less teenage dramatics and clichéd characters (the dotty aunt, the bad guy - speaking of which, whatever happened to him? - the snooty London relatives, etc.) and more afterthought.
The stuffy, priggish ad OCD Duke of Montford meets his match with Astrid Honeywell who runs a brewery in the wilds of Yorkshire. She is a trouser wearing harridan with wild, untameable red hair and mismatched eyes that sets the dude's OCD on edge. He comes to claim her home when he discovers her father's death had occurred a year prior with no male heir. Their enemies to lovers story has much to recommend it especially the humor which borders on slapstick occasionally. It is worth reading for the annual footage alone - a two mile course punctuated every quarter mile with a pint of ale! Plus Petunia the pig has some hilarious moments.
My standard for books is whether I would want to invest the time to ever re-read and I've read this 3 times now. I love closing the cover at the end with a smile on my face and a lighter heart.
It’s a funny story and, even though often present situations which are not true to the period setting, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the fastidious duke and the hellion who manages to ruffle his feathers. I found those main characters very endearing and well-shaped, also the secondary characters have the right amount of attention and are sharply and vividly described. In addition, the dialogues are witty and fast paced and the story flows away very fluidly.
In conclusion I recommend this read to those who seek moments of lightness and fun and are not to fussy about historical details and proper situations.