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Review: To The Duke, With Love by Amelia Grey

To The Duke, With Love (Rakes Of St James #2)
Amelia Grey
St Martin’s Press
2017, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

There may be times when a gentleman is desperate to gain a lady’s attention, but a gentleman would never resort to desperate measures to obtain it.
―A Proper Gentleman’s Guide to Wooing the Perfect Lady

Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn is guardian for his sweet, younger sister. Due to his misguided past as one of the infamous Rakes of St James, Hawk is hoping to avoid the Season by securing a match for her before it begins. He has the perfect gentleman in mind, but for one infuriating―and unexpectedly intoxicating―obstacle: the intended groom’s own sister, Miss Loretta Quick.

Having narrowly avoided her own arranged marriage to an unacceptable nobleman, Loretta is determined that her dear brother―a gentle, good-natured soul―should marry for love. Matching wits with Hawk may be her greatest challenge yet. . .until she realizes it may also be her greatest pleasure. For the young duke’s irresistible charm has not only begun to crumble her stubborn resolve, it has claimed her heart in true love as well. . .

I’ve read books by Amelia Grey before and I actually thought I’d read the first in this series but I haven’t. I read the first book in the Heirs Club of Scoundrels series, not the Rakes of St James series. Honestly, it’s surprisingly difficult to keep all these complicatedly named series’ straight about rakish Dukes.

The Duke of Hawthorn intends to marry his younger sister off to a man he has handpicked for her. His sister trusts him to weed out the rakes (like himself), the wastrels, the ones who gamble too much or who aren’t as deep in the pocket as they like to be seen as. However when he goes to broach the idea with his choice, he discovers that the man is absent from the house and instead he encounters his sister, Miss Loretta Quick. The Duke finds her immediately interesting – she’s not afraid to question him, confront him and she’s definitely not a fan of his plan to marry his sister and her brother.

Loretta once had a marriage arranged for her and it ended in disaster and her social isolation. Now she lives her days in one of her uncle’s houses, where the only person she really sees is her brother. The Duke is somewhat of a novelty but Loretta is horrified by his plan. She’s determined that her brother have the freedom to marry a woman of his choosing, someone that he can build a life of love with. Not someone coldly chosen on the back of breeding and social compatibility. She makes it defiantly clear to the Duke that she will counsel her brother against this match, no matter how many interesting things the Duke makes her feel.

This book was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I appreciated the bluntness with which it deals with the idea of arranged marriages. The Duke is undertaking his duty as head of the family to ensure that his sister marries someone worthy of her and he’s not just looking for the man with the title or the most money. He’s also taking into account his sister’s temperament and the sort of lifestyle to which she has become expected, which is interesting. He wants a man who will treat her kindly, not just one who can further the family dynasty. His sister is perfectly content to trust in her brother’s choice, not really caring about having an input. She looks to avoid the stress of a season by being betrothed before it begins, having been somewhat frightened about it by her chaperone. Loretta on the other hand, is perhaps before her time, wanting her brother to marry for love and happiness, not family connections and good breeding. There was a lot of spirited debate between Loretta and the Duke about arranged marriages and the pros and cons as well as debates about other things. Loretta is certainly quite forthright and perhaps her social isolation has really made her treat everyone equally. The Duke finds it very refreshing that she talks back to him, because, you know, he’s a Duke and people don’t do that to them.

But I have to admit, I found this book a bit boring. I didn’t really feel the connection/chemistry between the Duke and Loretta at all and sometime the debates became well, tedious, rather than exciting. Their interactions really didn’t hold my interest at all and I found the Duke not particularly rakish, despite his formidable reputation.   Loretta seemed to spend a lot of time halfheartedly protesting something based on a ridiculous vow she’d made years ago and I honestly didn’t really get the angst circling around it. As if her uncle, who was intent on punishing her for her rebelliousness, would protest at her marrying a Duke of all people and bring up that vow from years ago. It just made no sense and there was a lot of time devoted to it at the end of the book. Also the story with the Duke’s sister and Loretta’s brother could’ve been a really interesting secondary plot but it fizzled out and both of them lacked personality. In fact it made all the debates basically meaningless.


Book #191 of 2017

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