The Other Duke (The Notorious Flynns #1)
The Passionate Pen
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Serafina McPhee has been betrothed to the Duke of Hartholm and although several things have arised to delay their wedding, it’s just about to arrive. The Duke is a cruel and callous man and Serafina knows her future will be filled with pain and misery. Her father however has longed to be considered a part of high society and although wealthy, marrying Serafina into a title will bring him the prestige he so desires.
Days before their wedding, the Duke is killed in a carriage incident that is nothing but a relief to Serafina. Unfortunately her belief that she will be free is shattered when it’s revealed the marriage contract did not stipulate a name, just a title. Serafina is betrothed to the Duke of Hartholm and the fact that her intended has died doesn’t matter. The betrothal simply transfers to their new heir, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn, cousin of the not-so-dearly departed Duke and one of the “Notorious Flynns”.
Serafina proposes an agreement – she will marry him and provide him with the obligatory heir and spare and in return he will grant her her freedom. A separate house, her own money and the beauty of being beholden to no one. It’s what Serafina dreams of and Rafe, reluctant to enter into a marriage he didn’t seek out or desire but seeing no way out of it, agrees.
But he is intrigued by Serafina and her obvious disgust and fear of him. He wants to add a new dimension to their agreement – he will also teach her pleasure. Undo the previous wrongdoings, show her that it can be an act both beautiful and pleasurable, not terrifying and cruel. The time time they spend together, the more Rafe wants his wife for real, no agreements, no deals. But Serafina is too close to her freedom to surrender it now…
I love a good arranged marriage story so I had to request this one. Serafina is beautiful and her father is wealthy but in need of prestige. The seat of the Duke of Hartholm was impoverished and in dire need of an injection of funds. And so an arrangement was born. Unfortunately for Serafina, the Duke of Hartholm was a cruel and abusive man who thought nothing of inflicting pain and misery on his future bride well before the wedding. Serafina knew any future with him would be utterly miserable.
His death frees Serafina in a way but binds her to a new man. Despite the fact that Rafe Flynn, her new betrothed is a man willing to listen to reason and hear her out, Serafina still wants the one thing she’s never truly had – freedom. She’s always been beholden to her social-climbing father, who has never listened to her. He would have sacrificed her happily to the former Duke so long as it came with invitations to all the best events. And so Serafina offers up a piece of herself to Rafe, the new Duke, in order for her long-term freedom.
Whilst I enjoyed some of this story I have to admit that there were several parts that didn’t really ring true for me and I had trouble accepting that things would go as easily as they did. Although Serafina does intend to “do her wifely duties” the way in which it plays out feels unrealistic from Rafe’s casual acceptance of her story to Serafina’s enthusiastic acceptance of Rafe’s new part of their bargain. Given what she experienced at the hands of the previous Duke, I would’ve liked this to have taken much longer to play out, for Rafe to have to understand what had happened to her rather than just being casually ‘oh well that’s no good, I’m going to fix that. You can’t go about having only experienced that’ in his attitude. I don’t know if it’s the stoic “submit to your husband” attitude of the time but Serafina’s actions just didn’t feel genuine to me. It’s not how I would’ve expected someone who had been in her situation to have acted. There were things that felt very inconsistent for the time. Rafe felt too modern to be true during a lot of their interactions.
Although I understood Serafina’s motivation and her reluctance to ‘become involved’ it felt as though this really went on for far too long and that she was saying it because it’d become something she was fixated on and not really how she felt any longer. I did like the way the author took time to develop the relationship between Rafe and Serafina though and always gave the reader an insight into how Rafe was feeling and what he wanted. It was nice to see Serafina accepted wholeheartedly by Rafe’s family as well, even after their deal became knowledge amongst them. It wasn’t difficult to see that Serafina needed people around her who cared about her, who fulfilled roles in her lives that had previously been empty for a very long time (mother) or hadn’t existed (siblings). It gives her a family, yet again something she wouldn’t have had if she’d had to marry the previous Duke.
This book was an okay read – there’s another element added by a threat to Serafina’s life which ramps the story up a notch in the late stages. I liked the relationship between Rafe and his brother and I’m interested to read more about the Notorious Flynns.
Book #8 of 2015