I’ve been hitting the romance hard lately, and I’m not going to lie – I don’t hate it. I’ll be switching things up a bit more in the coming weeks, if you’re getting sick of love stories. I rarely do. 😉
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, as I usually am with historical romance. I think I’m just… still unfamiliar with it? I often find the language to be stilted and the clothing descriptions to be cumbersome. But! I have fallen in love with Sarah MacLean, and the description of To Love a Scandalous Duke was similar enough that I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did, because I didn’t know how much I needed Allie and Declan in my life!
Alethea is the daughter of an earl who was caught up in a scandal with the late Duke of Darington when she was a child. As a result of the scandal, the Duke took his own life, and his younger son, Declan, was sent to live with his grandparents in France, and later in Saint Lucia, where they ran a very successful sugarcane plantation. Declan inherits the sugarcane plantation, and is beckoned by his half-brother to return to England. When he arrives, he learns his brother has been killed, and he is now the Duke of Darington. If that isn’t enough news, he is shocked when he sees how his childhood friend, Alethea, has grown up.
Allie has been pursued by suitors for years, and her father has supported her as she rejected each and every proposal. But she can sense that his patience is fraying – she knows she must pick a husband this season. Once Declan, the new Duke of Darington, returns to her life, she knows almost immediately that it is him she is meant to marry. But her father disapproves, and attempts to sell her off to another earl to pay his debts. The scandal that has haunted both of their families comes back into play, threatening to tear Declan and Allie apart, but they know that their love is once-in-a-lifetime, and they fight for it.
Okay, so the plot is a little convoluted and difficult to distill into a couple of paragraphs, but it’s not at all confusing when reading the books.
3 Things I Loved
- Declan. Declan is one of the romantic heroes of my dreams. Do I say that every time I review a romance novel? Well, no, but pretty close. I really loved his character. He has a fraught family history and is gossiped about constantly, but he rarely thinks of himself first, and that’s what I loved most. He cares about Allie, and his family, and his father’s and brother’s legacies. He’s a good person, even though people think he’s scandalous. I loved him.
- Allie. So sassy and independent! Alethea was raised to be one with society, but she’s always had a mind of her own, and that’s what Declan loves about her. He has always thought of her as an equal, which is unheard of in the time period. But that’s what makes their relationship special – she knows her place and hates it, and Declan lets her be who she wants to be.
- “Nevertheless, she persisted.” This line! I’ve been waiting for it, and I think we’re going to see a lot more of it as books continue to come out that were written last fall. She persisted indeed. Forever and always, y’all.
My dislikes are sort of across the board when it comes to regency romance, so this has very little to do with this book in particular – I hate the stilted language, and they wear so many types of clothes that I don’t understand. I’m still getting used to regency, and it’s definitely growing on me. I’m not holding those things against this book, since it’s my bias. I also felt that Declan was a bit… predatory at times. It made sense in the context, but it still made me a little flinchy. And the part where he takes Alethea’s virginity (spoiler? Except it’s romance, so not really?) was a little squicky. She never actually said yes and he kept saying it was going to hurt… realistic, sure. But a little squicky.
I’m nitpicking now.
The only piece of problematic content that I can think of is the use of an old word to describe people of mixed race that I refuse to use because I hate it. I get it – for the time period, that’s how people of mixed race were referred as. But I still hate it and I won’t write it. So there’s your cryptic content warning. For me, that word is the same as Mudblood, and I CANNOT.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good!
- Blue = Oh my gosh, I loved this book!
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart and EVERYONE should be reading it!
We’re already at the ratings portion? I just love writing book reviews, you guys. Okay, so. To Love a Scandalous Duke had a few things that I disliked and one problematic word in it, but I really loved the characters and the love story. With all of this taken into account, I’m going to match my Goodreads rating and give To Love a Scandalous Duke a GREEN rating. People who like regency romance will likely love it!
Thank you to Entangled Publishing and to NetGalley for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion in any way. To Love a Scandalous Duke will release on September 25, 2017.