OMG this book so far... is so goooooood.
I can't believe it is free. IT IS FREE, YOU GUYS on Nook and Kindle.
Have you ever read a romance novel and felt like it's kind of all the same story, just different character names and settings? Especially historical romance. You know the ones: she's a wallflower, he's a rake. But underneath it all, she's got sass. And underneath it all, he actually has a heart. Only he can truly see how beautiful she is. Only see can see the man he could be. Blah blah blah plot-cakes.
I'm not saying I don't like those books. I have read and will continue to read plenty of them. Because tropes work and they keep us coming back for more. But, every once in awhile, you stumble upon a story that's different.
The Duchess War is that story. Without spoiling too much, I will say that our heroine, Minnie, is a wallflower. But there is a very good, unique reason why she tiptoes around the periphery of society. Our hero, Robert, is definitely not your typical rake. Not even close. He is charming, gentlemanly, intelligent, progressive and... excuse me while I swoon... the very definition of a hero.
And Minnie and Robert together. Sparks. Fly. Yes, Robert is one of the few people who can actually appreciate Minnie for whom she really is, but it's not a simple trope. He is written in such a way--has the kind of character--that makes it believable he would *see* her. Because he's the kind of man who chooses to look beyond mere pretense, to the things beneath all the facade. He's the kind of man who seeks the truth in all things.
Minnie and Robert have quite a lot of obstacles to navigate to find their way to a happy ending. Very real obstacles. Part of the trick of writing believable historical romance is that you have to get the social norms and expectations--what is acceptable in "good society" and what is not--just right. Sometimes a bit of unraveling at the seams of this concept is necessary to hook contemporary readers. But you can't pull apart the cloth completely or our heros and heroines are left naked in the ballroom--not good ton. Not in any time period.
That being said, The Duchess War does, at some points, tug every so gently at the seams of historical accuracy. But these things are not merely waved away, as some novels might do. Any slight improprieties are addressed, given weight, and explained in a way that makes sense. I, as a high-standing member--in fact, I am the Captain--of the Romance Pants Society, would definitely save a spot for The Duchess War on my dance card. In fact, I would save two.
Can't wait to see where this delightful story goes in the second half. Look forward to my review!
What a Lady Craves
by Ashlyn Macnamara
Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again … not this time.
For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.
The Captain’s Review
This story has a lot of great elements, and yet I could not get over how weak-willed Henrietta, the supposed heroine, is! Also, the supposed hero, Alexander, acts in a way that’s not very heroic. At a critical point in the backstory, he could have easily avoided or at least tempered something that becomes a main plot point—the reason for the rift between he and the supposed heroine. Yes there is the fact that he *tried* to inform Henrietta himself of his wedding to another. But he simply could have done a much better job of it!
That and the fact that he won’t tell Henrietta the reasons for his marriage—because he has made a promise to others to keep certain things secret—all the while glossing over that he first made a promise to Henrietta, and so owes her much more than *BEGIN SLIGHT SPOILERS*
*END SLIGHT SPOILERS*
I mean, I guess he is a good example of how men of the time might have been entitled and somewhat unconcerned with a woman’s point-of-view, but as a contemporary reader, I don’t find his behavior very romantic at all.
2.5 STARS out of 5
Sexy Times: Definitely there are some sexy times. But at times it brinks on all passion, very little romance. As mentioned in my review, Henrietta doesn’t seem to be strong when it comes to standing up for herself. She basically turns into some gelatinous form whenever Alexander so much as looks at her. No backbone at all. It’s not a good look.
Trigger Warnings: None, really. But at some points Henrietta’s willingness to bend to Alexander’s demands is slightly icky. But she does it by choice.
Plot: When eventually the whole truth of Alexander’s choices comes out, it’s not very interesting. While Henrietta is pretty weak throughout, she does, on occasion, give Alexander the what-for, and more of this back-and-forth would have provided the kind of tension I was looking for. There is also, throughout all of this, a side mystery going on with danger and intrigue, but the resolution is disappointing and slightly ridiculous.
Characters: Henrietta and Alexander are not the stuff of romance legends, by far. However, certain side characters add a bit more flavor. But not enough to elevate the story to what it possibly could have been.