Wednesday, May 15, 2013

TBR Challenge: Sally Mackenzie - The Naked Duke

Sophisticated. Scandalous. In fact, Miss Sarah Hamilton, a proper Philadelphian, finds London society altogether shocking. How can it be that she has awakened from her innocent slumber to find herself in bed next to a handsome--and exceedingly naked--man? The laughing onlookers standing in the doorway are no help whatsoever and surely this amorous lunatic cannot be a duke, as he claims. She is compromised--though she most certainly will not marry him!
James, the Duke of Alford, is enchanted by his unexpected bedmate--and not at all afraid of her pink-cheeked fury. True, the circumstances and place of their meeting are most unusual, but the spirited American who's pummeling him with a pillow is an incomparable beauty. If Sarah will only listen to his perfectly reasonable explanation, James is sure that he can capture her heart...forever.

Comment: This month's TBR theme is to pick one of more than one books by an author we might have. I thought about two authors actually, this one and Sherryl Woods, but I've read one book by mrs Woods and it was very boring, so I though it would be best to just try Sally Mackenzie. This was the first book by her I've tried but I was hopeful I'd end up reading the others too.

The Naked Duke is the first in her naked nobility series and being obviously historical, it was also clear it would focus in different couples too. I was a bit eager to get to it, I knew a couple of people whose opinions I know a bit have said they were entertaining and fun, so I thought the worst it could happen would be for me not to share the humor. I have to say the cover does make the book seem a bit silly, there are fun covers and funny covers and this one was on the sillier side of it, so I was eager but not dying to get it.

This is the story about Sarah Hamilton, she's left with nothing in America because her father was one of those doctors that just give things for free and didn't bother with money so after his death she doesn't have a choice but to go to England, looking for her uncle, an earl. When she arrives someone makes a mistake and gives her a room where later on the duke James steps into. Apparently the poor thing was mistaken with a prostitute. They end up in the same bed, she sleeping so not knowing he as there and he thinking she was someone else. They are found out and obviously now it's time to marry.

I get why some people would say this book is fun. I just don't think it was that much. I see the potential in several scenes but in the end I think it was a bit lack of the author's talent to write them. If the purpose was to write a sort of comedy I don't think it was that well done.
I think the story offered some plot lines interesting enough to make a more dramatic story without being too heavy. I mean, Sarah just arrived a strange place, where she doesn't know anyone, where she couldn't get a room, her belongings have been lost at sea, she is mixed up with a prostitute, she wakes up in a compromising position with a strange man and she has no money, no prospects...and easily there she goes to live with him because luckily her cousin is his best friend. Of course, something had to happen for the story to keep going, but I think the situation wasn't that funny or that easy to solve for the story to be treated as airily as that. A bit more of seriousness here and in some other moments could have made this book a stronger one.

The main characters were interesting yes. James is the perfect guy, a wealthy duke, respected, caring, helpful and now attracted to Sarah. He seems too good to be true, but at some point he goes along the path, she is danger I should step back so she doesn't get a target...for such a perfect guy he could have been a bit more confidant in his actions. People also have some wrong ideas about his character and it was fun to see how different he was from the public opinion and despite the unlikeliness of that in those days, it was still rather interesting to read about.
Sarah was a bit more believable, she had her beliefs, her goals and she knew she shouldn't be chosen to marry a duke, but her path is mostly believable. Her fears are real and I liked her personality. She comes from America where people seem to be more liberal but her behavior is correct and I liked how she seemed humble and caring instead of conceited girl like I imagined she would turn out to be. Don't know why but by the blurb it looked like she might.
The secondary characters provided good scenes and it gets clear who might be a protagonist in the future. The villain was weird, not very smart, more of a bully and the end concerning him was a bit silly as well.
Of course, in the end everyone gets what they deserve and all is well.

After finishing the book I could easily put it aside. This means I wasn't as impressed by it as I wanted to be. I get the positive opinions I knew about but I think this book isn't that good, it's not bad either, it's more just good enough, you know? Some things were good, others too stupid in my opinion, but there's a strange air of balance in it too. Weird. But that's it. I was thinking, should I read the others? I think I'll go as long as I end up at least satisfied by it, because I do have the books and as this one wasn't a complete failure, I hate to think more books would just be there, all alone and miserable...Perhaps the others are much better. Let's keep the faith.
As for this one, well, I'm not sure I'd recommend it, but it's entertaining enough to read between more serious things I guess.


  1. This is why I generally avoid books with cartoon-looking covers. Humor is so subjective. What is funny and cute to one reader can be silly and stupid to another. Sounds like it wasn't a terrible read for you, but a flat read all the same (those are sometimes worse for me!). Here's hoping for a better read for next month's challenge!

  2. Hi!
    Well, it wasn't as bad as that but it surely wasn't the best thing I've read. I don't think the issue was the fun things - or lack of them - but how the author showed them...ah well, better luck next time!
    Thanks for stopping by!