Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Maya Rodale - A Groom of One's Own

Miss Harlow's Marriage In High Life
London, 1823
A handsome duke. His beautiful soon-to-be duchess. A whirlwind courtship. It is this author's privilege to report on the event all of London is talking about: the upcoming wedding of the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon to the only daughter of the Duke of Richmond. Every detail of the "Wedding of the Year" will be reported in these pages as a London Weekly exclusive.
But I, Miss Sophie Harlow, must confess to a secret infatuation with this "double duke" that can only lead to trouble. It is impossible that this notoriously upstanding gentleman would ever jilt his bride for a scandalous female newspaper writer. And yet . . . the arrival of a foreign prince, the discovery of a shocking secret, and one passionate kiss could change everything. Will this perfect duke risk the scandal of the year to marry the woman his heart desires?
There are just three more weeks until the wedding . . .

Comment: I've had this book in my TBR since 2015, probably because the main couple would be different class and I tend to like romances where he protagonists come from different backgrounds/classes. Besides, the heroine is a sort of reporter in the 19th century and I was curious to see a woman doing this type of work in an historical context. This is another buddy read with H.

In this book we meet Sophie Harlow, a young woman who after being jilted at the altar decides to run to London to earn some money and she accepts to work as what we would call now a wedding correspondent for a gossip type newspaper which is kind of ironic but helps her to pay her bills.
One day she is saved by a gentleman and he walks her home which means they are able to form a brief but mutual bond. The surprise is, however, quite strong when Sophie visits the house of the newest couple whose wedding she is supposed to relate and she finds her gentleman is actually the distinct duke many would claim is the groom in the wedding of the year.
The duke of Hamilton and Brandon only wanted to be anonymous for an hour but the young woman he met ticked al the boxes for him and he felt very sad he already had a distinguished fiancé. He was also surprised to find this woman he was so attracted to is actually a reporter who will be in his life in the following weeks... but he is not in danger of falling for her, right?

This is a difficult book to defend and criticize. I liked some parts and didn't care for others so basically this was so so for me, but some of the good things were better than some of the ones I didn't like as much which means, in the end, this turned out to be a positive read. 

I think what I liked the most was how apparently easy and superficial some situations (so often found in romances not considered literary) gained more complexity and interest than the one I was expecting would happen. The main characters were facing a difficult situation, they were faling in love with one another while knowing class conventions and his signed and promised engagement forbade them from admitting it to themselves.
The path chosen for their constant encounters is a little cheesy of course, but I found that the situation was mostly well presented to the reader, after all, it can't be easy to just let go of plans made to do whatever one might want, even though the hero is a duke and that ensured he had a little bit more leeway to not comply to some conventions. Nevertheless, he is a good man and he wants to keep his promises. I also really liked how thoughts of his duties, of those who depend on his choices and life were always part of his own struggle.

This is not a lust-at-first-sight story and I'm glad for it. The characters keep fighting their attraction, including the secondary couple who faced their own complicated situation, and it made me feel their issues more keenly. It's quite invigorating to be invested in the character's mental state without the constant thoughts of sex even f they thought about the other constantly.
Considering these things, I thought the story was going very well in terms of how enjoyable it was for me but it seemed something was a little off and finished the book, I suppose I can say it's the heroine who feels as being the weakest link in all this.

Sophie suffers a very hard blow when she is jilted and I did feel for her. Her character's development and path did feel realistic too, even her desire to go away from what reminded her of what happened and away from those who would keep pointing the finger. I don't think there wasn't anything wrong with her attitude or choices but despite knowing these things and despite liking her bravery in facing the romantic situation with the duke when the story was close to its climax, I still don't feel convinced theirs was a solid relationship. I think we didn't see enough necessary scenes with them discussing or facing the sort of issues related to the difference of classes and power between them whereas the small amount of time they spent together - even if many times during the story - told us often they were falling in love. I think this part was not visible enough, especially because Sophie's problems with a potential match between them were not as detailed on the page as - I felt - the duke's were.

There were parts of this story I felt were quite emotional, like anything related to the character's choices. Other parts were not as interesting as I hoped the author would make them, like the detail of the heroine's profession in a world where women were not considered good ladies if they went outside the norm.
Despite some musings on my part on whether this was a good or bad story, I still felt entranced in several moments and although I more than expected knowing how the story ends, it was still an adventure to see it happen on the page...
This was my first book by this author and I'm not eager to read more right now but, one day, I probably will try her again.
Grade: 7/10

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