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The Duke and the Damsel*

Not Able to Get Past Not Liking Hero

In a departure from most Regency books about a compromise, both the hero and heroine at the heart of the story are determined not to be thrust into an unwelcome marriage. The heroine had decided that being a spinster was her best course of action after she lost an early love. If she is to marry, she wishes to do so only for love, but that is becoming more and more unlikely the older she gets. When they are discovered in a compromising state, the hero believes that he can buy the silence of the observers, but the heroine’s uncle has other ideas. To help the young woman, the hero decides to choose potential suitors from amongst his friends that might make an ideal husband for her.

I felt like this story had several plot holes. We’re told a little about the heroine’s first love, but we don’t really know the full story of their romance and what their relationship was truly like that would make her decide it was best to remain a spinster. There’s also a bad guy in the story, of course, but that just kind of fizzled out without any resolution. I found the language of the book to be somewhat stilted. I imagine the author is trying to mimic what she believes are Regency speech and language patterns, but it just doesn’t work and is more distracting than engaging. When the hero and heroine first meet, he comes across as a real jerk, and since the story is of novella length, I didn’t learn enough about his character or see enough of a growth arc to get past my initial bad feelings about him. For me, for a romance to work, I have to like the hero—finding him swoon-worthy is even better—and I have to believe that he is the best choice for the heroine. Unfortunately, that did not happen here.