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Review: The Heiress Gets a Duke, by Harper St. George

Gaaaaaaaaaah. This had so much potential, because I adore the premise: brash American businesswoman sexes up a duke into marrying her for the mun-muns, it was blurbed and reviewed by Evie Dunmore (the writer of the League of Extraordinary Women series, books that everyone should read forthwith), but it just fell a bit flat. And by that I mean, rather catastrophically flat.


Brief summary of the plot: August Crenshaw and her family are New American Money (they've made their stupid amounts of money in iron; think Captain of Industry, Gilded Age, Industrial Revolution New York). They go to London for a bit of a frolic, and lo and behold - they meet Evan, Duke of Rothschild (yes, that name bothered me hugely - Harper, the Rothschilds are a very famous banking family. Nobody with a title or a name linked to the Rothschilds would EVER lack for money. The cognitive dissonance I had to do on this one was HUGE), who is an impoverished peer who needs an heiress to bail out his floundering estates. August's parents offer up her younger sister Violet, but he wants August because she enchanted him with her fiery spirit and stubbornness at his fight. Oh, yes, that's another thing - he's a secret illegal prizefighter. The premise sounds great, but none of the pieces come together convincingly enough for me.


The main problem I had with it was that the story just didn't seem to go anywhere. Every chapter felt like a rehash of the previous chapter, so by the time the story concluded the resolution felt a bit flat, because the momentum built and built and built but never... moved. And I wish I could've cared about the heroine, August Crenshaw, but her main opposition to the proposed marriage was that she didn't want to be forced into marriage and would have to give up her position in her family's enterprise when she married. Which... yes. You are the heroine in a novel set in 1875. What, exactly, are you expecting otherwise, August? Your refusal to go along with the plot didn't serve so much as a character or a personality trait, but rather a plot device that made no sense in light of the fact that August was supposed to be seen as an intelligent, strategic woman. It would have made so much more sense for the intelligent woman to accept the fact that she can't change the rules of the world she lives in by being stubborn with absolutely no end game in mind, but instead she just dug her feet in and refused to adapt her plan or her strategy to changing circumstances. It drove me insane - and it meant that she didn't come across as intelligent or strategic, which the other characters spent the rest of the book shouting at the reader that she was, but rather whiney and childish. And unfortunately, the main male character was so bland and dull that I was not attracted to him at all and could not understand why anybody else was. He's described as wildly attractive, but none of his POV or his actions seem to have backed that up. It's called show not tell, Ms St. George. Show. Not. Tell. Practice that.


And what in the fuck was up with the plotting, ma'am? You spend the first two chapters describing how sexy this prizefighter is and how thrilling it is that it's a secret because it's all illegal and taboo - and then it just... never comes up again. It is beyond irrelevant to the wider arc of the plot, and that kind of sloppy pacing and outlining made me want to actively scream. Why was more time not spent on the illegal boxing and the potential ramifications instead of one of the million reiterations of this exact same conversation in every single chapter:

"You like him though, right?"

"Yes"

"Then what's the problem with marrying him?"

"I want it to be MY CHOICE. I DO NOT WANT MY HAND FORCED."


And there was something very, very off about the writing style as well. I think Harper St. George was trying to mimic the dialogue and writing style of the times, but some of the choices she made ended at jarring rather than true - the sentences turned out convoluted, to the point where I had to re-read them quite a few times to piece together the meaning. And it was choices that would have been rather simply fixed, like changing the order of the participles or just using a different article - so it kind of baffles the mind that neither she nor her editor chose to make those fixes.


And, lastly - not enough sex. There was only one sex scene, although that sex scene was excellent - very hot, and, very importantly, it takes place in a library. We all know how I feel about a library tryst. There was a lot of smooching, too, and the smooching was very hot.


All told - a decent premise, but the plotting, the writing, and the characterization just didn't come off. This is the first book in a series that I will not be reading any more of, and I will once again advise the following authors for excellent, never-misses Regency Romances: Tessa Dare, Evie Dunmore, Martha Waters. Read those books instead. This one was crap.


Happy reading,

Amélie

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About

I’m Amélie, I love books and reading, and I also love talking about them.

I’m incredibly lucky to be bilingual, so I read books in both French and English, and will talk about both of those on here – although I will do more in English, since I know that’s probably what the majority of the people who ever find this blog will be interested in!

I also like history, traveling, Shakespeare, coffee, cheese, musicals, Italian Baroque art, the ballet, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, flowers, makeup, high heels, and baking. Yes, I’m a walking cliché. I am aware.

Please do tweet at me with any suggestions/book recommendations/thoughts.

In case you’re curious – yes, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book of all time.