Tuesday, February 28, 2017

ARC Review: My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton

Series:     Dukes Behaving Badly #5
Pub. Date:Feb. 28, 2017
Length:384 pages

My Fair Duchess offers up a very interesting premise for the setting and time period, when titles and estates generally only flowed to the male heir. Our heroine's family received a special allowance to allow the duchy to pass to a female heir in the absence of a legitimate/living son, and so we have a flipped power dynamic when our heroine unexpectedly becomes a duchess and is in need of help being duchessy from a hero who is lower in social status.

Archibald Salisbury is the third son of a viscount who went off to war against his family's wishes. Needing a respite, and liking all things peaceful and orderly after the war, he took up employment as a steward to a flighty old bird in the country. When her goddaughter writes needing help with her new role in life, Lady Sophia can think of no better person to help than her handsome steward. So Archie takes his adept organizational skills and hies back to London to whip the new duchess into shape. I liked Archie's character but I felt he needed to be developed a little more. He wasn't quite a tortured war hero, and other than being bashfully handsome, there wasn't enough of his personality that I could sink my hooks into and develop an emotional connection.

Genevieve No-Last-Name, Duchess of something or other,* was raised in the country by servants, only laying eyes on her foolhardy father a few times. We meet her after she has unexpectedly inherited a dukedom and is looking to her Godmother Sophia for help. I wish we would have met Genevieve a smidge earlier, perhaps when she was still the lonely girl in the country. The absence of the backstory, much like Archie's, prevented me from connecting fully to her character. She did have a decent personality and I loved all her inner monologue's about our hero's general salisburyness. She was also quite obtuse in some things and aggravated me with her thoughts and treatment toward Archie.

The romance between these two was definitely a slow burn with a heavy emphasis on the forbidden relationship due to the difference in social class. There is a role reversal aspect was interesting, especially given the
  It seemed so much more shocking coming from a female! Alas, the back and forth got a bit repetitive as there was no other conflict to focus on in the story. I think either this one could have been shortened to novella-length, or we needed the addition of some skeezy relatives with a dastardly plot to unseat the duchess. I would have also liked an epilogue following the grand gesture, as I like a bit of follow through with the story to let us know how the couple is rubbing along after the nuptials.

If you have not read the earlier books of the series, you can read this one as a standalone. There are only minor references to the Quality Employment Agency, which was a heavier focus in earlier books. I would encourage you to go back to read those books though as there are several good ones in the series. While this one was not my favorite, it was still a decent addition and I do recommend it to those who like historical romance with a dose of humor.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Avon.

*I don't believe we were ever told Genevieve's last name or title. I like to have this info in my story as a point of reference.

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