If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell (The Disgraceful Dukes #2)

Synopsis:

28116114After four failed seasons and a disastrous jilting, Lady Dorothea Beaumont has had more than enough of her family’s scheming. She won’t domesticate a duke, entangle an earl, or vie for a viscount. She will quietly exit to her aunt’s Irish estate for a life of blissful freedom. Until an arrogant, sinfully handsome duke singles her out for a waltz, making Thea the most popular belle of the season.

The duke ruined her plans and he’ll just have to fix them.

Dalton, Duke of Osborne, is far too heartless for debutantes or marriage—he uses dalliances and public spectacle to distract from his real purpose: finding the man who destroyed his family. When his search leads to Ireland, the last thing he needs is the determined, achingly innocent Thea, who arrives in the dead of night demanding he escort her to her aunt. His foolish agreement may prove his undoing. The road to the Emerald Isle is fraught with unforeseen dangers, but the greatest peril of all might just be discovering that he has a heart…and he’s losing it to Thea.

Review:

There’s plenty to like here but… it’s complicated.

The good:

  • Like the first book of the series this is a fun, low-angst romance.  While the stakes in the blurb above seem weighty they never feel that heavy.
  • Thea and the heroine from the previous book are connected in an interesting, satisfying way.
  • The respect that the hero and heroine have for each other is palpable and wonderful.
  • While the hero and heroine are titled there are fleshed out characters from up and down the social strata.
  • There is a gender-bending secondary character, and I love them.  I hope they get their own book, maybe in a spin-off series taking place a dozen years later or something.
  • While not epistolary some nice (and funny!) letters start things off.

The not-so-good:

  • Like the first book in the series the historical feel is weird in places.  At one point Thea is openly invited to speak at a meeting for the British Institution of the Fine Arts and she accepts on the spot.  In the Regency women generally weren’t allowed to attend those kids of events, period, let alone present at one.  Most of the book stays away from the ballroom so it’s not awful awful, but it’s there.
  • The plotting feels scattershot, and one subplot could have been done away with completely.  The middle has a good pace but in the last few chapters it’s like, ‘we must tie all these ends neatly and quickly! Hurry, now!’ I would have been happy with a couple of things left until the next book.
  • I have read two new releases that were probably written after Hamilton hit and I catch hints of lyrics in places. Both have punny lines about “demanding satisfaction”, and this book adds, “We have this moment. And it’s more than enough.” I may just be hyper aware, though.
  • The point of view changes were jarring at times.  We would be in Thea’s head as she danced with Dalton, worried about making a scene or finding the right words.  But then we’d switch into his head, where every little thing was seen as seductive or cloying.  I get that he was seeing what he wanted to see, but it was too extreme a change for me.
  • The title of the book doesn’t match the story at all – Thea is more than happy to be a spinster and live her own life, gosh darn it.  She isn’t yearning for a Duke at all.

I liked the first book of the series better than this one, but I’d be happy to chalk it up to a sophomore slump.  I’ll be keeping my eye out for the next volume, for sure.

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