Saturday, September 7, 2019

Elisa Braden - The Truth About Cads and Dukes

Painfully shy Jane Huxley is the furthest thing from a diamond of the first water. Bookish, bespectacled, and, well, plain, she never expected to befriend a dissolute charmer like Colin Lacey, much less agree to help him retrieve a lost family heirloom. Fortunately, he is nothing like his cold, rigid older brother. Unfortunately, he is not above deception if it means winning a wager. And that puts Jane in a most precarious position.
For Harrison Lacey, the Duke of Blackmore, protecting his family honor is not a choice, it is a necessity. So, when his cad of a brother humiliates the unwitting Lady Jane, Harrison must make it right, even if it means marrying the chit himself.
Her reputation hanging by a thread, Jane agrees to wed the arrogant Duke of Blackmore, although she’s convinced it will result in frostbite. Only after lingering glances lead to devastating kisses does she begin to suspect the truth: Perhaps—just perhaps—her duke is not as cold as he appears.

Comment: I got this book at a time it was available for free somewhere. I had it in sights because the blurb mentioned a shy heroine and I'm always up to read stories with heroines like this. Just the idea of seeing how that plays a part in her life and in a romantic relationship she might develop is catnip for me.

In this historical, we meet Jane Huxley, who even in social gatherings has a handy book just in case (like I do in real life) and who is someone shy but friendly of those she feels she can help, like Colin Lacey, one of her best friend's brother. She decides to accept helping him but things turn out to be quite complicated for her.
Thankfully, to rescue her out of a situation that could ruin her, there is her friend's other brother, Harrison, the duke of Blackmore. They have never got along because he keeps calling her attention to what he sees are her faults but now it seems he is the one that will help, by marrying her.
Since they seem to have opposed views on many things and Jane doesn't see herself as being a catch for anyone, will they have things to share and make the marriage work?

The idea of this book was very appealing to me. Often authors say heroines are shy but they don't like someone who isn't good talking to other people or they change their personalities too quickly as a sort of "redemption/improving" tactic to reach a "more deserving" HEA. I had hopes in this book the heroine wouldn't change who she is and that she could be a good way to show how shy people can be great people despite not doing so well in public.

Jane was an interesting heroine. She does act shy with those she doesn't know, of course she's not like that with the hero and the fact they shared some sort of bickering, it was a good omen for what kind of relationship they might have.
I think there was a lot stressing out on how plain, shy and not as elegant Jane was but we rarely see those things being important in actions. The fact it's easier to tell than to create significant scenes to show can be difficult...

Harrison is a good guy deep down but for such a confident guy, as he is described, I expected a bit more cleverness in his part in how to deal with Jane's issues. Not between them: the intimacy situation was surprisingly easy for them to overcome (although if Jane was shy, I can't see her acting like that, even on purpose). Since Jane had to deal with her lack of confidence in dealing with others, I don't think Harrison did such a great job of supporting her, or at least his methods weren't the best, I'd say.

Globally thinking though, I think this wasn't a better book for me because of how the relationship between the main characters happened. They shared many special moments, moments that could help them increase their trust in each other but the lack of communication really was something. They also assumed this and that of the other and although this does seem as perfectly acceptable in real life because we can't stop and analyze every thing as we do it, in a book it gets kind of boring because it's only a tool to delay the end. I also would have liked their emotional connection to be stronger before they got intimate because when that happened it felt out of character for a shy heroine to be so comfortable with how things progressed. Oh well.

The plot focuses mostly on the lives of Harrison and Jane after they marry but there's a small sub plot which I assume prepares the next book because of who the hero will be. 
The biggest conflict does originate in the characters so there aren't many worthy external things that would matter, long term thinking. This means the characters themselves are the big motivator of things moving on and not an external reason. It's a pity for me that they weren't as consistent nor engaging through the whole story.

This is apparently the second of a series. I admit by reading this one I don't feel a lot of interest in the others so it was a good way to see how the author's writing is but I'd say it will be pretty forgettable in the future.
Grade: 6/10

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