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No Other Duke Will Do (Windham Brides) Mass Market Paperback – November 7, 2017
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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"Compelling, sympathetic characters and a rare blend of passion and humor result in another exquisite gem from a master of the genre. Gorgeously done."―Library Journal, starred review on No Other Duke Will Do
"Those who prefer their historical romances to sound and feel historical will savor No Other Duke Will Do." ―NPR
"Sexy heroes, strong heroines, intelligent plots, enchanting love stories...Grace Burrowes's romances have them all."―Mary Balogh, New York Times bestselling author
"The hero of The Trouble with Dukes reminds me of Mary Balogh's charming men, and the heroine brings to mind Sarah MacLean's intelligent, fiery women... This is a wonderfully funny, moving romance, not to be missed!"―Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author of My American Duchess on The Trouble with Dukes
"Grace Burrowes writes from the heart--with warmth, humor, and a generous dash of sensuality, her stories are unputdownable! If you're not reading Grace Burrowes you're missing the very best in today's Regency Romance!"―Elizabeth Hoyt, New York Times bestselling author on The Trouble with Dukes
"The Trouble with Dukes has everything Grace Burrowes's many fans have come to adore: a swoonworthy hero, a strong heroine, humor, and passion. Her characters not only know their own hearts, but share them with fearless joy. Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure."―Tessa Dare, New York Times bestselling author on The Trouble with Dukes
"The Trouble with Dukes is captivating! It has everything I love in a book--a sexy Scotsman, a charming heroine, witty banter, plenty of humor, and lots of heart."―Jennifer Ashley, New York Times bestselling author of The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie on The Trouble with Dukes
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Do not expect to enjoy this novel if you are knowledgeable about the time period or enjoy Georgette Heyer's novels. This novel is not dated but refers to George III and that the UK was not at war with France, plus Wellington features at the end, so.....it's either set in the summer of 1814 or sometime in the summer of 1816/1817/1818/1819.
To start, I will just debunk the Duke of Haverford's "poverty." At the beginning of the novel, he estimates that he will be able to pay off his debt of £20,000 in a little less than 9 years. Later in the novel, it's apparently such a huge debt that his payments aren't even keeping pace with the interest (so, clearly wouldn't be paid off in 8 years, 7 months). Now, £20K is an impressive sum if you have no idea what money was worth in 1816, but it's ridiculous as the plot device to keep the H/h apart. The H's father put the family in debt to that tune by buying a bunch of books which the H was too ignorant/determined-to-be-martyred to figure out were worth money to other people. (Oh, look at my "worthless" 1297 copy of the Magna Carta, moldering away in this closet! BTW, Americans, there is a similarly worthless copy on display at the National Archives, last purchased in 2007 for $21.3 million). Records from 1815 show that the Duke of Devonshire had an annual income of £70K. The Duke of Northumberland earned £3K/year in minerals (mines); by 1825, that had risen to £25K/year. AND that was less than a quarter of what he earned in farm rents. So, even a really poor duke (with completely un-mortgaged estates?) should have had an income somewhere in the ballpark of £20K/year). Add to it that the duke's sister has no idea how much it costs to host 42 carriages worth of people for 3 weeks and the entire local region is charging the duke 2-3 times the going rate for all goods and services - and he's okay with it because the economy is bad?! - and my eyes should have rolled right out of my head. And why is she buying pineapples if they have such amazingly large hothouses?
But truthfully, the first chapter should have clued me in that things weren't going to get better, even though I trudged along anyway. We first meet the h because her sister is bilious due to drinking dodgy ale at an inn. Since a lady wouldn't have been drinking ale, I thought she must be an alcoholic (not just travel sick) for the first few pages until I realized that it was just a laborious and unnecessary distraction. Then, within the first couple days of meeting the H, the h announces that she's not going to stop her sister from dabbling with the bachelors because she herself has had two unsatisfactory one night stands. I still don't know why she felt the need to explain this to a near stranger, nor do I understand why Burrowes thought this made any sense at all. It really brings nothing to the story and it's crazy to think that a well-bred, conscientious lady of the beau monde would decide to have random sex IN THE MIDDLE of public events with men she didn't even care about. Also, I don't think you can pay Debrett's to erase your family members and what is the point if they've already been published?
I'm getting tired of how very long this review is so I'll try to be more brief. None of the supposedly rich, born-to-rule characters act like it. A 27-30 year old woman doesn't need permission to marry. If she did, permission would come from her father, not her uncle. If a duke's daughter in the mid-1700s was betrothed to a local man, even if she jilted him, he would have had to be a gentleman - there is no reason for Lucas Sherbourne to be so socially inept. Also, he probably wouldn't have been a crazy wealthy banker living in the wilds of Wales. To have his valet school him in the ways of polite society and then leave his service because he's such a villain is nonsensical. Also, all the talk throughout the book about how gentlemen do this or that is dumb as hell. I feel like Burrowes is trying to educate her readers which is even worse since she so clearly has no idea what she's talking about.
I think I covered most of the "obstacles" above. In addition to the main love story, there are FOUR other half-baked romances. The Charity subplot is a non-starter (and that's also not how it would have worked). Also, Griffin only speaks Welsh? Mines are a HUGE problem for the H but then they're not because he thought about it some more? Sherbourne is a horrible person but then he's not because it turns out that he loves the common man (that he wants to exploit as mine labor?) and also he likes to buy rare books all of a sudden when previously he bought books by the box only so he could have the appearance of a "gentleman's" library instead of looking like a cit? And why was his grandfather allowed to buy the Haverford dower house? The Windham/Moreland relatives fall in love hard and fast, and the whole family believes in love matches, EXCEPT when the suitor is a temporarily broke duke?
It's all too much and too distracting. That's a shame, because I think I could have really enjoyed the main idea and H/h of this story if Grace Burrowes hadn't ruined it by trying to cram in at least 3 other stories. I get that this is part of a series, and she obviously wants people to keep buying the series, but I am now completely turned off from trying to read any of her other novels.
Grace Burrowes, you need a better editor to keep you on track. You need someone to call you out when your details and subplots are so distracting and inaccurate. The people who don't care won't notice, but the people who do care will write super long reviews like this. Hell, I'll help you out for free. You have the potential to be a good author. I liked the main idea. But less is more. And in the case, waaaaayyyy less would have been better.
Julian St. David, Duke of Haverford, is putting up with the house party only because he hopes to launch his sister and find her a husband. He has no hope of finding a wife as he is too honorable to marry while saddled with huge debts from his father and grandfather who spent all their money on the aforesaid library. In addition, his younger brother and heir, Griffin, suffers from a birth defect. Griffin is kind, handsome, and charming, but will never mentally be older than a child.
It's no secret I love Ms. Burrowes writing and pre-order everything she writes. This may be one of my favorites. Elizabeth and Julian remind me so much of Esther and Percival Windham, the Duke and Duchess of Moreland (the original Windhams). Elizabeth is practical and intelligent, able to reassure Julian when his worries and pride overcome his good sense.
This is a quiet romance; while the couple have a lot of troubles, there is no one swooping in to save them with an inheritance or deus ex machina from the rest of the family. It's up to Julian with some help from Elizabeth to figure out how to resolve his finances in the very best ducal manner, without impacting the many people who depend on him. He's a good man though stubborn, and Elizabeth brings out the best in him.
The secondary characters provide for more romance. Julian's best friend is in love with Julian's sister. And Charlotte might find a man of her own (waiting for the next book in the series). Even the 'villain' is teachable, not a cardboard cutout of Scrooge. I loved Griffin and Biddy's sweet romance, and even Aunt Arabella, Elizabeth's chaperone, finds a new love.
There's a lot going on here with the various characters of the house party. Ms. Burrowes writing is detailed both with wonderful descriptions of Wales and the castle, and the activities of the house party. And of course there's the books. Both Julian and Elizabeth have somewhat differing views on his vast library. I liked the debate between them and the resolution.
I'm torn in some ways. I don't want to stop reading about the Windhams, and I can't wait for Charlotte's book. Yet I also feel No Other Duke Will Do would be a fitting finale to the family story.