Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: The Duke by Katharine Ashe

Series:     Devil's Dukes #3
Pub. Date:Sept. 26, 2017
Length:395 pgs

The Devil's Dukes series is a spinoff of Katharine Ashe's Falcon Club series. I have not read the Falcon Club series yet, and I tried to start the Devil's Dukes last year with The Rogue, and I felt too lost to finish the book. When Avon sent along the fourth book in the series, The Prince, I decided to give this one another shot. I wanted to try The Duke, because I am a sucker for a broody dark duke, particularly a Scot.
Amarantha Vale is our young and idealistic heroine, who runs off to Jamaica to marry a reverend and be first lady of his flock. Amarantha quickly learns the social difficulties at the time. Volunteering at a hospital, treating patients of all races, Amarantha observes the inequity of the races and the bigotry of her peers. Throughout this portion of the book, I admired Amarantha and her charitable nature, hard work, and willingness to treat everyone equally. I also felt a little sad for Amarantha as we saw the loss of her naivety once she was in the real world and not being sheltered by her family. Meeting the dashing Captain Gabriel Hume, it was easy to see how she fell victim to his charm, as he was quite the tempting character. 

We met Gabriel Hume, (now) Duke of Loch Irvine when he was an enterprising young captain in the royal army. He quickly becomes enthralled with the optimistic Lady Vale, and sets out wooing her despite her engaged status. I found Gabriel to be a romantic and somewhat sentimental hero, and I liked him immensely. He really became the star of the story for me. He was incredibly altruistic and sought to do good deeds and take care of people selflessly and without seeking credit. His work on behalf of women in need, no matter their class or color, was a fantastic aspect of the story.

So our couple is not together for a good part of the story and, during that time, I enjoyed how the story was building and getting to know our characters internally through inner monologues, actions and events. Then we jump ahead about 5 years and Gabriel and Amarantha are reunited, which is where the story switches to be more dialogue-driven. Unfortunately this is where I started to lose the story, and I could never get it back.

Amarantha has changed and I no longer liked her attitude, or the way she treated Gabriel. She seemed very cold and Gabriel was undeserving of her ire. Gabriel stayed true to his character throughout, and I was continually aggravated with Amarantha's disrespect and callousness toward him. She even went so far as to strike him. I think the author tried too hard to establish the feminist aspect of our heroine, and she crossed the line from strong, empowered woman to cold-hearted bitch. Being bitchy is not representative of any feminism that I want to be a part of... you can be a strong woman who is still nice to people (including men)! I couldn't figure out if this was supposed to be a role reversal story, or if the current political climate has just made me overtired of women espousing these characteristics. Maybe its both. But not only was the heroine giving me heartburn with her personality... but her actions doubled my ire. She is someone apt to run off into cockamamie schemes that make everything worse, instead of consulting with the people involved in the situation. I think I literally shook my Kindle a few times at her antics.

So, in sum, I loved Gabriel. He was near saintly in my eyes. I hated Amarantha. She was disrespectful ingrate and I wanted to thump her right off the page. The secondary characters were interesting. I know some of them are probably from the Falcon Club series, and I would like to know their backstory so I will probably get around to reading those books sometime this year. I didn't feel lost reading this book, like I did with The Rogue, so I hope to continue on to The Prince without undue stress. I am very interested in our exiled prince's book as he was a very mysterious character in this installment. Let's hope the next heroine is easier on my nerves.

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