Release Date: Apr 30, 2019
Series: The Duke’s Den
Heat Level: Hot
Imprint: Avon Books
Anything But a Duke is the second book in the Duke’s Den series by Christy Carlyle, which follows three handsome and rich young men as they invest in various endeavors. This book follows Aidan Iverson, the self-made one of his friends who rose from poverty to being one of the richest men in England. Unfortunately given that he did come from poverty, there are still many doors that are not open to him in society since he does not have a title. Aidan thinks that the quickest way to solve this problem is to marry a lady with a title and a long and noble family history. Our heroine is Diana Ashby who is an avid inventor of a variety of things that aim to make life easier for everyday people. While on her way to a lecture she stumbles upon a mystery man (Aidan) in need of help and comes to his aid, they both experience attraction-at-first-site and kiss before going their separate ways. Fast forward a year and Diana is going to the Duke’s Den in order to get funding for her invention of what is essentially a vacuum. She is the first female to enter the Den and Aidan immediately recognizes her from that chance encounter. He is intrigued and they both strike a deal that Aidan will help her to find buyers of her device while Diana will help Aidan to find an aristocratic wife amongst her friends, if Diana cannot find a suitable wife by the end of the month then she must agree to be his wife, and so begins their adventures.
I really did enjoy this story and believed in the romance between Diana and Aidan. Their conversations were great and had me laughing and eager for more, and I liked how their initial physical attraction to each other slowly built up to genuine feelings. The dynamics between them were great and I looked forward to the parts of the story where they were together. However, I gave this book a 3.5 rating instead of higher for a few reasons.
One, there is a side plot of Aidan trying to find out who is parents are and if his sister survived the fire that occurred at their orphanage. This story line was actually quite interesting at the start of the book and had so much potential but I feel like the author did not really do it justice. It was pushed to the side and came up every now and then. I could never really understand if it was important or not since it was not well explored or developed and so I just got bored with it. I found that towards the middle and end of the novel whenever this storyline would come up I would just quickly skim the words instead of really reading it.
Secondly, I could not really understand why Aidan’s friends who are nobility themselves were not featured more in the book. The whole point of Aidan going to Diana was for her to find him a wife….but could his friends not do that? One of them was married and surely Aidan receives invitations to their events which would include members of the Ton, and the other friend was also an aristocrat. This did not really make much sense to me, and it also just pushed his friends to the side as well, so when they did come up randomly in scenes I did not really believe in their friendship as it was not well explored or established in this novel.
Finally, I couldn’t understand why Diana was so opposed to marrying Aidan from the start. All she really wanted was to be able to work on her inventions in peace as well as provide for her family, and I feel like both of these could have been accomplished very easily through a marriage to Aidan. Her reluctance to marry him was a bit odd to me.
Overall, I would recommend this book. It is a very well written story and I enjoyed reading it.