Henry, Duke of Torquil, wouldn’t be caught reading the wildly popular “Dear Lady Truelove” column, but when its advice causes his mother to embark on a scandalous elopement, an outraged Henry decides the author of this tripe must be stopped before she can ruin any more lives. Though Lady Truelove’s identity is a closely guarded secret, Henry has reason to suspect the publisher of the notorious column, beautiful and provoking Irene Deverill, is also its author.
For Irene, it’s easy to advise others to surrender to passion, but when she meets the Duke of Torquil, she soon learns that passion comes at a price. When one impulsive, spur-of-the-moment kiss pulls her into a scorching affair with Henry, it could destroy her beloved newspaper, her career, and her independence. But in the duke’s arms, surrender is so, so sweet . . .
I have mixed feelings about this book – the good parts were good, but the parts that annoyed me really annoyed me. Let’s break it down, shall we?
- The internal conflict is thick and delicious. There isn’t a lot of external, moving around plot, but the inner lives of our couple keeps the story moving nicely.
- There are two instances where love crosses class lines, each different in their own way.
- Guhrke obviously researched the 1890s and revels in the slang and phrasing of the period. It’s a breath of fresh air for those of us who usually read in Regency-land.
- Irene is a strong woman and is involved in issues of the day, first and foremost getting women the vote.
- Irene’s views match our modern views almost perfectly, to the point that she feels like she’s parachuted in to re-legislate the Victorian era in long discussions with Henry. Women should get able to go to university, become doctors, vote, run a newspaper, have sex outside of marriage… I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Oh, and high society can go hang. I’m for every single one of these things, but Irene talks of little else. It grates.
- Henry pushes back as well as he can, pointing out how this or that social norm exists for a reason. Irene is uncompromising, though, and…
- …the resolution boils down to Henry agreeing with Irene in every way and rearranging his entire mindset and worldview to match hers. I would have liked more of a compromise – “I guess I’ll learn how to be a dutchess” doesn’t count.
- The way they finally get together for sex is more finagling than anything else. I didn’t feel the love.
While I’m disappointed by the characters the writing is solid so I can see myself picking up another book by Guhrke. This was my first – can you recommend a better place to start?