1 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
This is a book of wasted potential. It had a great set-up as the companion novel, happening at almost the same time as Lost Duke of Wyndham, but told from a completely different perspective. There are lots of books about the new duke/earl/viscount and how they’ve suddenly risen to power/wealth, etc; there are very few that really address what it’s like to be the deposed, former nobleman, the riches to rags portion of the story. But… this just wasn’t different enough. There are swaths of the book that literally could have been cut and pasted from the first book, there are no surprises, no pay-offs for any number of potentially very interesting side characters and stories, and it was ultimately very, very boring. It’s something that could (and should) have just been edited and combined with the first book to be one, fully-functional novel: the dialogue drags, the plot isn’t just predictable, but redundant, and it’s just a waste!
I’m giving it 1 star for some clever bits of dialogue (the stuff Quinn built a reputation for herself upon), and the clever idea… otherwise, this is a waste!
We’ve got a boring, slightly self-righteous soon-to-be-former duke who’s always been brought up to be a responsible duke who’s attentive to the management of his lands and tenants, and marry the woman who’s been arranged for him since his early childhood.
We’ve got a heroine who’s been waiting patiently for her arranged spouse to decide to marry her.
Since the premise of the book is that our protagonist, the supposed duke, ends up being merely Mr. Cavendish (the long-lost heir no one knew about is the hero of book #1), that’s the catalyst for everything: how does a man, raised to be a duke in every way, adapt to being a mere commoner? What does his affianced say? Does she abandon him? Stand by him?
The problem is that while these could have been interesting characters with believable, multifaceted reactions, they just weren’t. They felt stiff and boring, and because we’d already seen everything that happens from the other perspective (the “real” duke from #1), there are NO surprises. If, in book #1, we’re told that the two men go away, and decide on a cover story where they tell people they met fencing, in this book, book #2, we see the two men going away, and discussing, hey, yeah, let’s just say we met fencing.
Also… everything that could have been interesting (how DOES a deposed duke end up adapting?) is left unwritten. Instead, we see the EXACT same events from the first book, told from a slightly different angle, with the same (now repetitive, redundant-seeming) dialogue, and then, the book ends at almost the exact same place, time-wise (there’s I think one day’s worth of extra events, all of which are predictable). This means that the only truly, truly new content is the epilogue… and you can’t read a book for its epilogue!!!
Urgh. I don’t know if Quinn has just lost her touch or if this was just a great idea that never panned out, but this is definitely one to avoid.
Comparisons to Other Authors/Books:
Julia Quinn made a name for herself by being a clever, smart writer who had a wonderfully deft hand, especially for creating memorable heroes and heroines with sparkling dialog. I don’t know what’s happened to her, lately, and you can read more about my thoughts of her here.