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.
Her Favorite Duke (The 1797 Club #2) by Jess Michaels
Series: The 1797 Club #2
Published by Passionate Pen on June 6th 2017
“He loved her, as he always had. And he would marry her. She would be his. But this beginning, it would hang over them. Perhaps it would not be something they could ever overcome. The very idea that it wasn’t broke his heart.”
FINAL DECISION: This one was very enjoyable. Two characters who have loved one another for years and now have to marry would seem to be a simple and boring situation. However, the complexity of the feelings of love and guilt combined make this a compelling read deftly executed.
THE STORY: Simon Greene, Duke of Crestwood has loved Margaret Rylon, the sister of one of his best friends for years. The only problem is that she is engaged to another one of Simon’s best friends. He has run from his feelings and tried to ignore them. Now when the wedding date has been set, the two are found in a compromising situation which forces their marriage. But Simon has a great deal of guilt for destroying his friendships and also struggles with feeling unworthy of Margaret.
OPINION: I enjoyed this book tremendously. The romance seemed simple but the complexity of the story unfolded itself and demonstrates why I like series with overarching stories so much. In the first book in the series, readers were introduced to the 1797 Club — a group of future dukes who bonded together and became the best of friends. But as this book demonstrates, their friendship is not always easy.
Simon, Graham and James have been friends from almost the beginning. When James (who also was the hero of the first book in the series) became duke, he wanted to secure the future of his younger sister Margaret aka Meg. It seemed so natural to betroth her to one of his best friends. The only problem is that James chose the wrong friend. Meg and Simon were already having feelings for one another that went beyond friendship although they had not expressed them to one another. Neither, however, wanted to hurt James or Graham and so they each decided to walk away from their budding feelings.
Ten years later, the date has finally been set on Graham and Meg’s wedding day, but Meg is distraught rather than happy. What follows is Meg and Simon being caught in a compromising situation that results in the breaking of Meg’s engagement and a hasty marriage between Meg and Simon. But not all is well because Meg and Simon finally getting together rips apart the 1797 Club.
Simon feels the guilt of his betrayal of his friend the worst. Because this book makes it clear that both men are good and despite the pull toward a happy ending that the reader might want — the feelings that Meg and Simon harbored for one another and failed to admit were a betrayal. Instead of discussing the issues, the two were willing to hide their feelings…but the feelings did exist. And the way that they are discovered hurt everyone involved. And the guilt from that — his happiness coming as result of the humiliation and pain his friend encountered haunts Simon. As a result, he doesn’t want to feel joy in his relationship with Meg. I found this conflict compelling and want to see how things are ultimately resolved (some of which will have to wait until later books because Simon and Graham still are broken as this book ends).
This book is all about the costs of happiness. I found this conflict to be original and I really enjoyed how it played out. I’ve been reading Jess Michaels for a while now and I think the complexity of her stories have been increasing and the deftness in which she constructs her characters and their conflicts have been making more and more of her books compelling reads for me.
WORTH MENTIONING: This book also introduces the conflict with Graham (Margaret’s former fiance) which drives into the next book of the series.
CONNECTED BOOKS: HER FAVORITE DUKE is the second book in the 1797 Club series. The book can be read as a standalone although there are overlapping characters and there are overlapping storylines apart from the romance.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.