Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Laura Lee Guhrke - The Truth About Love and Dukes

Dear Lady Truelove . . . I have fallen in love, truly and completely in love, for the first time. The man whom I hold in such passionate regard, however, is not of my station. He is a painter, a brilliant artist. Needless to say, my family would not approve . . .
Henry, Duke of Torquil, wouldn’t be caught reading the wildly popular “Dear Lady Truelove” column, but when its advice causes his mother to embark on a scandalous elopement, an outraged Henry decides the author of this tripe must be stopped before she can ruin any more lives. Though Lady Truelove’s identity is a closely guarded secret, Henry has reason to suspect the publisher of the notorious column, beautiful and provoking Irene Deverill, is also its author.
For Irene, it’s easy to advise others to surrender to passion, but when she meets the Duke of Torquil, she soon learns that passion comes at a price. When one impulsive, spur-of-the-moment kiss pulls her into a scorching affair with Henry, it could destroy her beloved newspaper, her career, and her independence. But in the duke’s arms, surrender is so, so sweet .

Comment: After reading some positive reviews on this book, I have decided to add it to my list. Now that a few months have passed, I finally started the book and I must say I was more positively surprised than what I really expected. I had read another book by the author a long time ago and from what I remember it wasn't as captivating, but this time I think I'll be a fan of this series.

In this story we meet Henry, the duke of Torquil, as he decides to investigate the silly column "dear mrs Truelove" in a newspaper after he recognizes a story very much alike his own mother's, since she wants advice in how to deal with a potential marriage with someone not in her class. Henry and his siblings are obviously nervous and he goes to the newspaper to question the owner and the woman who gave his mother the advice to "just follow" her heart.
Irene Deverill is a feminist who has taken over the family business to make ends meet and to finally give some stability to her family since her father drinks and can't really help. The gossip and the truelove column are the most sought over items in her newspaper and she knows it can provide for them for a long time so she doesn't think about letting it go, much less after an aristocrat demands it so. The problem is that the duke doesn't play fair and Irene and her younger sister see themselves in a complicated situation, all because of the duke. But as close proximity makes them butt heads, it also makes Irene realize there's more about the duke than his status...

Reading the blurb and my own poor description above, one probably imagines this is another silly story about unlikely characters and while I must say it's necessary to suspend belief for a while because some situations can't be that realistic (dukes wouldn't interact like that with common people I'm sure), at the same time the author was able to write scenes where the characters talk and discuss their lives, status, positions and experiences so that the physical relationship isn't only lust or a convenient excuse to make them closer but a consequence of true feelings.

For this alone, I would be able to say this is a successful story. I really liked it that we were able to get to know both Henry and Irene very well, even if they acted a bit stubborn at times. Of course we tend to see things through out contemporary eyes but this is an historical. I admit some things felt like modern people wearing old fashioned clothes but the settings provide a lot of interesting scenes for the characters to interact in and that does help them improve and see the others in different ways. I think this is a thoughtful story with characters who do have a brain and I liked this more seriously discussed type of plot where we see things happen in an obvious way.

Irene and Henry are very different, so I could see some opposites attract here but they are also from different sides of the social hierarchy and I do love to see how people can still find common ground and compromise and love while everything around them wasn't supposed to work.
Henry is a fascinating hero, and we put them in such a status not just because he is rich or because he helps the heroine somehow but because this time he talks to her, he tries to understand her side and he also presents good arguments on why he occupies a certain position and can't simply ignore it. He is actually a very sweet man...
Irene is more vibrant, sure of herself and independent. It took her a bit longer to accept a certain fact about their relationship but I also understand her POV and she isn't as generally described as usually feminists are in these books, she has opinions, she makes herself heard but she isn't so aggressive she dismisses others or their feelings completely. Her falling in love and accepting Henry did feel very sweet as well. I did like their relationship overall.

The secondary characters were interesting, did offer a lot more than just supporting roles. For instance, I liked how Henry's mother was portrayed and how everyone was very rational in their opinions, ideas, so on...
The tone of the story isn't that serious, there are several routine scenes and here and there some comedy feels but overall, I liked how the story was played. Very different from my memories of the other book by the author I've read. As if a mature person wrote this and was able to convey the message...I can't explain well.

I liked this story, there were many elements I enjoyed, there are flaws as well, some parts weren't as well paced, but all things considered, I had a great time reading. I'm certainly going to keep up with this series.
Grade: 8/10

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