Friday, May 26, 2017

Audiobook Review: Blame It on the Duke by Lenora Bell

Series:     Disgraceful Dukes #3
Pub. Date:Apr. 25, 2017
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Beverley Crick
Length:9 hrs 24 min

I have been looking forward to this installment of The Disgraceful Dukes as it features Lady Alice Tombs, whom we met in How the Duke was Won as the intellectual eccentric who did not want to marry. This is my favorite installment of the series thus far.

Lady Alice is a unique and bookish young woman, who is engaged in the translation of an ancient Indian copy of the Kama Sutra. Longing to travel to Calcutta to share her discovery and work, Alice shuns marriage and finds creative ways to scare off fortune hunters and prospective husbands. This usually includes spouting random, detailed and grotesque facts about the topic of the moment, be it insects or murder. And if her bouts of TMI don't do it, Alice is ready with a trusty hat pin. I liked Alice and found her oddities to be refreshing. 

Lord Nicolas Hatherly, the future Duke of Barrington, has resolved to never marry due to his fear of going mad. It appears that a form of dementia or Alzheimer's runs in Nick's family, and he is the caretaker for his afflicted father. Nick has vowed that the madness in their blood will end with him, so he is resolved to life as a rake. That is, until his father gambles him away in a game of cards! Now Nicolas will be saddled with a reluctant wife... but they were able to come to terms regarding an arrangement that will suit them both. Nicolas was a great hero. Although he was a rake and rogue, he was also quite magnanimous. The fear of going mad and of asylums has lead Nick to assist others, leaving him with a rag tag assortment of household servants. Given Nick's family history and experience caring for his father, his fear of madness was reasonable and believable, and added an air of vulnerability to his character. 

This love story was more of an arranged marriage that turned to love, and this is one of my favorite tropes. I enjoy reading about what happens after the marriage, rather than just having a book where the couple is courting the entire book and the story culminates with a wedding. In Blame It on the Duke, we have mature characters learning one another after the marriage has taken place. Alice discovers that Nick is nothing like his reputation would suggest, and Nick discovers that Alice's incessant curiosity can be a lot of fun. There were some misunderstandings that occurred between the pair, but overall they learned to rub along quite well together.

The secondary plot involving The Yellow House (a private asylum) and Nick's good deeds was quite interesting and helped advance the plot at a nice pace. I found the secondary characters - those in Nick's household - to be engaging and likable. Nick's father, the current Duke, was a particular highlight. He was portrayed as a lovable but confused man, who believed his orchids talked to him. 

Beverley Crick did a good job with the narration of this story. Her portrayal of the various secondary characters was diverse and entertaining... and I particularly liked the surly butler who never smiled. I recommend this book to any fans of historical romance.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this audiobook that I received from the publisher, Tantor Audio.

Disgraceful Dukes