Review: A Duke Like No Other

Review: A Duke Like No OtherA Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides, #9) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #9
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on May 1, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”

FINAL DECISION: I loved this second chance at love story uses the heat and pride of the two main characters to weave a story about two people who loved one another but were too stubborn to fix things between them.

THE STORY: General Mark Grimaldi has devoted and sacrificed most of his life to protecting England as a spymaster. Now that the wars have ended, he’s about ready to achieve his greatest professional goal — to be named Home Secretary. There is only one problem for Mark. The job is basically his, but those making the decision prefer having a married man in the position and suggest that he find a wife. The problem is that Mark already has a wife, but one he has been estranged from for 10 years. Nicole has spent the last decade in France when he husband returns to ask her assistance in pretending to be a devoted wife. Nicole, however, has a demand of her own that threatens the emotional distance that the two have kept between them.

OPINION: I loved this book because Mark and Nicole are such a compelling couple. They are both too stubborn and prideful to admit to one another that they are in love. Instead, they have allowed the distance between them to fester and keep them apart for years. Yet, each yearns to be with the other.

The story is written such that the past is interwoven with the present and this allows readers to understand what divided these two. As with most real life relationships, mistakes, keeping secrets, pride and stubborness dooms these two. These two want to be together and Mark’s promotion gives them the opportunity to breach the gulf between them.

Mark is a man who’s love for his parents and being placed in their dramas with their own families has led him to stubbornly cling to the promises he made to his father. This despite the problems it created in his marriage. His job has also kept him apart and made it difficult to connect to other people who might have questioned his choices. The solitary nature has allowed him to cling to pride rather than recognizing it as his fault.

Nicole was young when she married and her uncertainty allowed her to accept her husband’s anger rather than fight for her marriage. She is capable and unconventional, but she is waiting for Mark to show that he values her above everything else.

Just when I thought that the book was going to have to go deeply in a dark emotional journey, a mystery arises which allows Mark and Nicole to work together. The two do respect one another and just need to make themselves vulnerable to one another.

I really liked this couple and enjoyed their journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is another possible couple introduced and I hope we get their story before the series ends.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DUKE LIKE NO OTHER is the ninth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can certainly be read as a standalone with the caveat that there are some small appearances by characters from other books. This romance is self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Someone to Care

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Someone to CareSomeone to Care (Westcott, #4) by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #4
Published by Berkley on May 1, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this serious and mature romance between two people in their forties getting a second chance at a love that was impossible before. Balogh is a marvel at these slow developing love stories.

THE STORY: Two years after the death of the Earl of Riverdale, his family has adjusted to their changed circumstances. Except that at what should be a joyful moment, the woman who was unhappily “married” for over twenty years only to find out her marriage was illegal feels everything overwhelming her. Viola flees her family and friends intending to return home. On the way, however, she meets Marcel Lamarr. Years ago, the two had a flirtation that Viola would not pursue because she was married. Marcel is a rake, but when the two meet again, Marcel intends to finally get the woman who got away.

OPINION: I loved this book. I loved that Marc and Viola are mature characters compared to the normal heroes and heroines in historicals. They are in their early 40s and its nice to see that their story isn’t locked into a typical mature story.

Marc and Viola demonstrate that even when having adult children, a person can want to escape, to be alive and have passion and even a bit irresponsible. Even more interesting to me, these characters have pasts filled with mistakes. And their romance doesn’t go smoothly at all.

Marc is a man running from his responsibilities. He was devastated by the death of his wife, he removed himself from his children and instead lived a life of a irresponsible rake. Afraid of love, filled with grief and guilt, Marc doesn’t know how to connect to the very thing he truly wants.

Viola did everything she was supposed to do. She obeyed her father when he contracted a marriage for her. She was faithful to a man who gave nothing to her but children. Always proper, always respectable, she was horribly betrayed when she discovered that her husband was actually a bigamist and she was no wife at all.

A chance encounter between the two and the memory of the time years ago when they felt an attraction to one another brings Marc and Viola together. Viola is willing to throw off all the years of being responsible. Balance would require that eventually Marc but toss off all the years of being irresponsible. The question for most of the book is whether the two can find their way to balance.

I loved these two. Their journey is serious and takes time. I really love the Balogh romances which allow the characters time to breathe in their relationship. The story has an interesting balance where there is an initial and hot part and then the growth and chance for these characters is allowed to take the time it needs to be real and lasting.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book turns the events of the “normal” romance novel on their head with things happening in a different order than I normally expect.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SOMEONE TO CARE is the fourth book in the Westcott series. The romance is self-contained, but I believe the book is better having read the others in the series because it gives understanding to Viola’s state of mind.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare this review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars