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Review ❤️ The Infamous Duchess by Sophie Barnes

March 29, 2019

the infamous duchess sophie barnes

A woman with a shocking past…

Branded a money-hungry con artist for marrying the elderly Duke of Tremaine days before his death, Viola Cartwright has found refuge in her work at St. Agatha’s Hospital. No one must know the painful reason behind her marriage. She steers clear of attachments—until Henry Lowell, heir to the Viscount Armswell, lands on her operating table after a duel. Charming and wickedly handsome, Lowell is one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels. Yet he may not be all that he appears.

And the man who can promise a future filled with love…

Posing as an unrepentant rake has helped Lowell avoid women pursuing him only for his title. But now that duty has finally called on him to marry, he finds himself entranced by the mysterious, independent-minded Viola. Then her late husband’s son returns from overseas, contesting Viola’s inheritance. Lowell longs to help her and sets out to convince Viola that a strategic union may be the best way to save all she holds dear. But can he also persuade her to take a chance on love…?

Release Date: Mar 26, 2019
Series: Diamonds in the Rough
Book: 4
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: Avon Books
Price: $5.99


Unconventional, high stakes, low angst/conflict are the words I would use to describe Barnes latest historical romance. Out of these there were many likable elements to this story, though the characters  and plot were not earth-shattering.

To start I enjoyed the unconventional elements of the story. Our heroine, Viola is a duchess, but eschews the life in favor of using her money and limited to influence to run a hospital that provides free care to any and all patients (no matter their station in life). A widower who comes into money under questionable circumstances is always a fun tale. The hero, a Henry Lowell, a known rake, is the man avoiding marriage for no other reason than waiting to meet the right woman. Rather refreshing since normally hero’s are motivated to stay free of the bounds of marriage for other reasons.

Additional reasons I enjoyed the story included the heroine’s job as a physician. Though not formally trained she is allowed to practice doctor work in a limited capacity. The villain is truly a piece of work, in the form of Viola’s stepson. Ensuring he got us just desserts was a primary motivator for me to keep reading, though I feared he would not get the punishment he deserved.

As for why this book ranked a bit lower for me had to do with the high stakes, but the lack of urgency amongst the characters. Viola has her entire future in jeopardy through most of the book and though our hero is assisting I found the lack of more work in certain areas disturbing. The hero seemed to be at his best distracting the heroine instead of fighting for a win to help her win against her vile stepson. Secondly, certain events in the book felt disjointed and not cohesive with the rest of the story and to me this affected the pacing. Though I hesitate to provide specifics because they might be spoilers.

Overall, this book works as a stand-alone novel. I was able to get immersed in the story without feeling like I missed something. There is a good deal of references to history and highlights of the changing times from females in medicine to aristocracy owning business ventures. Finally, if you’re enjoy historical romance with a little less heat, then this book is perfect for you.

~ Landra

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