Thursday, October 27, 2022

Grace Burrowes - The Duke's Disaster

Noah Winters, Duke of Anselm, exercises the pragmatism for which he’s infamous when his preferred choice of bride cries off, and her companion, Lady Thea Collins, becomes his next choice for his duchess. Lady Thea’s mature, sensible and even rather attractive—what could possibly go wrong?
As a lady fallen on hard times, Thea doesn’t expect tender sentiments from His Grace, but she does wish Noah had courted her trust, lest her past turn their hastily arranged marriage into a life of shared regrets. Is His Grace courting a convenient wife, or a beautiful disaster?

Comment: I have enjoyed other books by this author and years ago when I read positive reviews on this one, I decided to add it to my TBR too and now it was finally the time to pick it up.

This story begins with the proposal of the duke of Anselm to miss Thea Collins, the companion to the young woman he was courting. Since the young lady preferred another gentleman, Noah, the duke, being such a practical person and having observed lady Thea's behavior, knowing she is the daughter of an earl, ignores what probably was bad circumstances which made her become a lady's companion. Lady Thea does accept, mostly to help secure her younger sister's future, but neither Thea nor Noah thought their marriage would be more than just the convenience it offered. However, as they become closer, both realize there is more their spouse than just what appearances revealed and they are, after all, much better people than what they imagined... will their marriage be a happy and loving one after all?

For those who might have read the previous posts I wrote in the blog, I think it's clear that one of the elements I think makes a book a better one in my eyes is an appealing writing style. A "voice" or a way with words that makes reading interesting, even if the subject isn't one I'd be that glad to devout time to or something. That was not the case here, I was interested in the characters and in what they were dealing with, but what probably made this story - in historical romance not that original - interesting to me was how it was written. This author's work seems to work out well for me for mrs Burrowes writes elegantly and competently and that makes quite a difference.

This is still a different enough story from a vast majority in the sense that it starts as the protagonists marry and not before. We see them deal with that decision and what it entails, while adjusting their personalities to another person while accepting and understanding that person too. I liked the dynamics but I confess that there was one detail which can feel rather frustrating: there are two secrets, sort of, one of each protagonist, developed as the plot moves along but that takes ages to be explained.

Of course we have hints, little clues and the time it takes to be fully exposed is because the plot needs reason to move along and, I'd say, to enhance more the light drama as the end comes near. This is plot tactic, I don't truly mind it because there is plenty to think of as the characters deal with other things, but all things considered, both these "secrets" could have, so many times in some many scenes be shared, explained, solved before they are even a problem, that it can be obvious the author maintains the miscommunication on purpose and, at times, this feels annoying.

These so-called issues between Thea and Noah could be easily solved yes, but on one hand it does make them work to understand each other, to access each other's personality through actions and not just words. Of course I liked this as well, the author does rely quite well on the show-don't-tell notion and it works for the overall feel of the story. This is something to be savored, it's no fast paced action scenes, so any reader who can't stand things to take forever to happen, might feel a little bored. Thankfully, the secondary characters and the little ways Thea and Noah demonstrate they care about their spouse make for a good distraction.

The romance is slow, we can see they are both wary, emotionally speaking and as they become a real couple, we see how they came to be like this and why they are worthy of being loved and how the other person is the right one to bring hem out of their shell, so to speak. I think the author did a good job trying to make them be a good match and at the end I believed it. It is true some scenes were just too...stoic between them, but I didn't mind the slight robotic behavior here and there because in the big scheme of things, I feel they both got to be happier people by being in this relationship.

As the story comes to the end, we finally learn about the secrets, the less positive aspects of the character's decision to be silent for so long and while none of the secrets - as they are revealed - is a surprise, I mean it's all pretty obvious from the moment the clues are given, it still allows for interesting emotional scenes. I liked how mature the characters acted, how in sync with what their experiences and personalities were, even though some details might have been done better.

All in all, this was a successful read for me, one that entertained me and I will certainly read more by this author in the future.
Grade: 8/10

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