Dukes by the Dozen*
Delicious Baker’s Dozen of Dukes!
Despite what the title says, you have more than a dozen Regency and Georgian Dukes in this collection. The authors have given us a baker’s dozen of dukes instead! The stories in this book are not full novels; instead, it is a collection of novellas written just for this collection, one for each month of the year plus an extra. The stories do correspond to the respective months and seasons.
For a collection about dukes, this book actually had a set of fascinating heroines. In the first three stories, one is a worldly but honorable highwayman, another is a sarcastic and snarky ruined young lady, and the last is a newly minted duchess who already has serious doubts about her husband. Familiar Regency and romance tropes are explored, like friends to lovers, second chance at love, small misunderstandings that cause significant problems, love between those of different stations, and falling for someone already betrothed. Several of the novellas make good use of letters. More than one book has Scottish flavor (and even a Scottish duke!). Most of the dukes are young, but some are older or have had war experience. For heat level, the stories range from clean to steamy.
I won’t go into detail about all the novellas, but I will share a little about a couple of my favorite ones. By the way, the stories did vary in the number of errors in grammar, punctuation, and usage. More than a few stories were problematic with commas and other punctuation. Collections, I think, need to be edited by one editor to help smooth out the entire set of stories so that these errors and differences can be mitigated, making for more pleasant reading.
Here are a couple of favorites:
February – The Difference One Duke Makes by Elizabeth Essex
This duke arrives on England’s shores some ten years after he left it to join the Navy. Now back with just one arm due to injuries sustained in war, he finds out as soon as he stepped ashore—very nearly–that he is now the duke as his brother has passed. At a soiree at a neighboring estate, he meets up with one of his old childhood playmates, blank, who is now considered to be a ruined woman because she was found alone with his brother. They have a delightful back and forth as they both hide out during this get-together. It is clear that both have held a tendre for each other for a long time. Will the duke wish to marry the girl he has loved for a long time? What will his mother say? Would the scandal be tolerable? I love this Duke! He was so unsure of himself in his new role and because of his injury. It was fantastic, too, that the heroine readily accepted him in a warm and friendly way and could see the wonderful man he still was. My only quibble with the book is that they constantly used their childhood nicknames for each other, which got a little tedious.
April – The Duke and the Spring Flowers by Grace Burrowes
This duke is told by the Earl of Falmouth that his father promised that he would pick his duchess from amongst his three daughters, who all happen to be named after flowers. The duke is not too pleased about this but is willing to meet them at social engagements to see if one would suit. What I liked about this story was the humor and the relationship between the sisters. The Duke as well is funny to watch as he reacts to the idea and the young women. This was one story that had me smiling.
This collection is diverse enough did I imagine that almost any reader who enjoys Regency or Georgian romance will find several stories to enjoy here.