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The Duke of Distraction*
Unique Hero and Heroine in Real Friends-to-Lovers Romance
This is a true friends-to-lovers Regency romance. The hero and heroine are actually simply good lifelong friends who have no romantic interest in each other at the start of the book. They are both atypical Regency characters; at the beginning, he is genuinely an unreformed and unrepentant rogue, and she is a lady who wants to open a millinery shop to feature her creations and truly has no desire to wed. (I love how he was so supportive about this, even helping her look for a shop.) They are both shocked and appalled when her parents state that they should marry each other. The heroine is mortified that her parents would do such a thing. Instead, Felix decides to help Sarah find a husband by creating events, like a private horse race and house party, where he can invite eligible gentlemen. What will Felix do as he does find himself growing more and more attracted to Sarah? Will Sarah stand firm in her desire for spinsterhood?
Some Regencies and other books I’ve read lately have lacked a certain “je ne sais quois.” However, right away with this book, I felt drawn in by an author who knows how to propel a story forward with solid characterization and plot twists I didn’t fully see coming. I was intrigued to see how this particular set of definitely “just friends” was going to proceed to love. I felt like I could trust the author just to take me where she needed to go in terms of both character and plot, and I was not disappointed. Both of the main characters were fun at the start with their independence and unusual ways. When tragedy struck, and as the romance bloomed, both characters showed depth, generosity, and patience (though in different ways). Felix is definitely a swoon-worthy hero despite his roguishness which belies a tender heart and a genuinely good soul. It took tragedy to draw him out and patience to see that through. An emotional read at times—but those are my favorite kind!