Misleading a Duke by A.S. Fenichel – ARC Book Review

Title: Misleading a Duke (The Wallflowers of West Lane #2)
Author: A.S. Fenichel
Genre: Historical Romance / Suspense
Publication Date: 29 September 2020

Betrothed to a man she has barely met, Lady Faith Landon calls upon her three best friends—the self-proclaimed Wallflowers of West Lane—to help uncover the secrets of her mysterious fiancé. Her suspicions are aroused when she learns that he has recently returned from France. Is he a traitor to his country? The truth is quite the opposite. Nicholas Ellsworth, Duke of Breckenridge, is a secret agent for the English Crown who has just completed a risky mission to infiltrate Napoleon’s spy network.

After his adventures, Nicholas craves the peace and quiet of the country and settling into domestic bliss with his bride. Until he discovers Faith’s deceptive investigation. How can he wed a woman who doesn’t trust him? But a powerful spark has ignited between Nicholas and Faith that could bring about a change of heart

Misleading a Duke was a surprisingly action-packed and suspenseful read. I couldn’t put this book down!

When requesting this I had been expecting a typical historical romance with the wallflower and arranged marriage tropes. That’s not what this was. Instead, strong themes of mystery, action and suspense were included. I’m not entirely sure what genre this story should go under as it’s quite unique. That said, the romantic aspect of the story was predominant throughout.

FINALLY a historical romance that actually has an INDEPENDENT woman. A truly independent woman who isn’t afraid of being a spinster – nay she welcomes it – and is quite content being the stronger emotional partner of the pair. It was refreshing. Lady Faith London was brilliantly strong, intelligent and confident. Yes she had her flaws and doubts but she remained true to her character throughout the entirety of the book.

Nicholas was an equally strong character however it was hard to connect with him at the start of the story. His anger toward Lady Faith London seemed unjustified (mainly because we had not been provided sufficient information regarding the back story – this was just presumed from having read the premise).

The relationship between Nicholas and Lady Faith was not always easy to follow. At times it was not clear whether they liked/hated each other. I’d just get a grasp on this, only to become completely lost again after their latest interaction. After the first half of the book this seemed to even out as they had a ‘suddenly-in-lust/like’ moment however due to their exceptional circumstances this seemed quite realistic.

While I enjoyed all of the unexpected facets and themes in this story, they caught me unaware. The light torture scenes should either be forewarned to the reader or the story’s premise should hint at the darker tones present in this book.

Otherwise, this was a surprisingly entertaining read. The connection between Faith and Nicholas was beautiful to read once they were forced together.

4 Stars.

A Duke Will Never Do by Darcy Burke – eARC Book Review

Title: A Duke Will Never Do (The Spitfire Society #3)
Author: Darcy Burke
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: May 19 2020

After failing on the Marriage Mart, Jane Pemberton has two choices: submit to her parents’ edict to marry their boring neighbour or become a self-declared spinster and take up residence in the official headquarters of the Spitfire Society. It’s really no choice at all, and Jane is eager to embrace her newfound independence.

She soon finds an unconscious viscount on her doorstep and nurses him back to health. When he offers to compensate her, she requests payment in the form of private instruction of a scandalous and intimate kind.

Having spiraled into a self-destructive abyss following the murder of his parents, Anthony, Viscount Colton, physically recovers under the care of an alluring spitfire. 

I’ve been in a romance mood lately and when I saw this on Netgalley my first response was to request it and read the synopsis later (I know… why do I do these things to myself???). I hadn’t realised (obviously) that this was the THIRD book in the Spitfire Society series. That said, it turned out to be easy to read as a ‘stand-alone’ and was such a cute read! Sometimes spontaneity pays off.

A Duke Will Never Do follows Jane Pemberton, self-proclaimed spinster as she embarks on a future WITHOUT yearning in hope for a husband. Instead, she plans to take on humanitarian issues through the Spitfire Society in the effort to claim independence and happiness in a society that doesn’t prioritise these traits in women. When Antony Colton turns up unconscious on her doorstep however, things take a surprisingly adventurous turn.

Jane’s character was easily likeable and not angsty or frustrating to read AT ALL. This is practically unheard of in this genre. There was still tension in this story however, it was in reverse. Antony Viscount Colton was the kind, sensitive and vulnerable of the pair and in need of support from Jane. I liked this book’s different take on the usual roles male and female characters play in a historical romance.

The pace was jaunty in this regency-set romance and made for a fast read. If you’re after something with a few remarkable side characters (whom I’m assuming are from books 1 and 2) as well as a good dose of intimate moments between the MCs then this is the book for you!

I’ve rated this one 4 Stars as I happily read it all in one sitting. I lowered this rating as this story could have benefitted from some additional tension to really allow readers to connect with the characters. Particularly in regards to Antony’s personal addictions as a coping mechanism for his traumatic past. The issue of his addiction was skimmed over with the implication that purely being in Jane’s presence was enough to quash the cravings. This read as quite unrealistic to me and I would have liked this explored more.

4 Stars.

*Arc provided by Darcy Burke Publishing via Netgalley*

First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn – Book Review

Title: First Comes Scandal (Rokesbys #4)
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: April 2020

She was given two choices….

Georgiana Bridgerton isn’t against the idea of marriage. She’d just thought she’d have some say in the matter. But with her reputation hanging by a thread after she’s abducted for her dowry, Georgie is given two options: live out her life as a spinster or marry the rogue who has ruined her life.

Enter option number three…

As the fourth son of an earl, Nicholas Rokesby is prepared to chart his own course. He has a life in Edinburgh, where he’s close to completing his medical studies, and he has no time – or interest – to find a wife. But when he discovers that Georgie Bridgerton – his literal girl next door – is facing ruin, he knows what he must do.

A marriage of convenience… (Goodreads).

Oh boy, this was a disappointing read.

Well, I should probably wait before writing this review as I’ve literally just finished reading the book but I have some pent up emotions that I need to get off my chest. The first being, where was the rest of the book???!!!! At a mere 288 pages this book was 100 pages shy of every other story in the series. Quite frankly (as this was not labelled a novella) it needed those extra pages.

The Rokesbys series (one that I truly adore from Quinn) has been a splendid mix of daring drama and adventure thus far, the likes of which you rarely see in historical romance. The previous book in the series, The Other Miss Bridgerton, is one of my all-time favourite historical reads. It involves pirates, an adventurous woman, a nomadic and witty man and a fast-paced plot of kidnapping followed by heroism.

When I compare that to this book… it’s like I’m reading an entirely different series and I didn’t get anything of what I had been after. I was expecting a reluctant marriage of convenience, built up tension, some medical emergencies (considering the ‘hero’ was a training physician) and a sweet HEA. What we got instead was a fast-tracked story with little to any conflict. It was purely boy meets girl, (almost) insta-love, then HEA.

This was such a shame as the story had so much potential. I really enjoyed reading the multiple POVs of Georgiana (a strong woman with an innate sense of curiosity and a wicked intelligence) and Nicholas (a man who values women’s intelligence and allowed Georgiana an almost unlimited amount of freedom). They were interesting separately and worked well together.

What I did not enjoy was the complete lack of a middle to the story. The beginning was so fun to read! I was hooked very quickly with Nicholas’ displeasure at having to marry for convenience (because he wanted to marry for love) and Georgiana’s great sense of humour in their interactions. After this, things very quickly progressed with zero conflict (between them or with others). Caught unawares I soon found myself at the ‘epilogue’. I mean… can you call it an epilogue if the story was severely lacking substance?

In this epilogue (without wanting to share too many spoilers) it became apparent that Georgiana’s fight for a woman’s right to an advanced education was never granted. That was it. WHY hadn’t Quinn explored this fight, Nicholas’ support of Georgiana’s plight and the resulting heart-break in the middle of the book? I’d have been happy with insta-love and outside conflict in the form of a fight for education. Instead we got none of this.

I’m sorry, this is turning in to a ramble. My disappointment is high and I just can’t stop. I’ve rated this two stars because there was some genuinely great potential here and Quinn’s characters were likeable (if not fully developed throughout the story).

A sad 2 Stars from me.