Release Date: Sep 3, 2019
Series: A League of Extraordinary Women
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Penguin Group
This book reminds me of early Carolyn Jewel. Think, Lord Ruin and other imperious Duke’s and then mix that with Courtney Milan’s trailblazing stories chock full of events and truths based on true history. That’s this story, in a nutshell. And it was marvelous.
There is a dual POV from both bluestocking Annabelle and the force of nature that is the Duke of Montgomery. Lord, it’s been a while since I read a book with a Duke so forbidding and alpha. Thank you, Evie Dunmore for bringing that alpha Duke bake to life again for me. A man that radiates the epitome of a capable. I’ll be honest that’s a hardcore desirable trait for me. The heroine explains it best:
“In a world where everyone was swept along in the murky circumstances, paddling frantically this way and that, his unapologetic self-assurance looked like a rock in the rapids. Here was a man who would take charge, and then not bungle it.
Out of nowhere flashed a thought: what would it be like, to be married to such a man? Free. At the side of a man who took care of things, a woman could be free.”
Such a lovely revelation and even more scary since Annabelle doesn’t believe in marriage, at least not for her. She’s lower class with her own awful story of being taken advantage by a man. At the same time she’s strong, embracing of her flaws, and accepting of her own nature. She views herself equal to men and thankfully, after a bit of a trial our dear Montgomery sees her the same way.
Oh, but Montgomery has a long way to fall off his high horse… a long way indeed. As most alpha high-handed dukes must often do. Montgomery has his own goals to reclaim family legacy and Annabelle is in direct resistance to that path. Too bad he can’t stop it and watching him fall is absolutely what kept this book a page turner.
This book is also fresh, fresh with story, plot, and a seemingly impossible but deeply wanted HEA. There is fighting and plenty of sacrifice and plenty of conflict borne from frank discussions about social rank and women’s right to vote. The fact that a woman choosing carnal relations is met with more derision, and that if she wants a man higher than her station for more than sex she is asking too much.
Also, may I just say that the Duke’s come to Jesus moment is inflicted by a pheasant, not some close friend offering words wisdom, but an animal. I can’t say more, don’t want to give things away, but I binged this book. It went from slow start to sweeping emotion. Rolling waves of emotion, that left me as breathless as Annabelle and the Duke after getting swept up in desire.
Now, the things that held me back from a 5 star rating, be prepared I’m going to be picky. The slow start for one. The first chapter or so really dragged for me. I kept going giving this story the requisite three chapter good faith test. I am glad I did. The other challenge is at times there are a few back and forth moment where a hero or heroine is having internal recollection, but differing past from present was a bit difficult. So I got I confused for a short moment.
Overall, Dunmore has pulled off a brilliant debut. I am looking forward to more in the series and hope to see multiple characters get their stories told. As I mentioned above if you enjoy Courtney Milan historical and the Alpha dukes of the Balogh and Kleypas series in years past this one is definitely for you.