Historical Romance Book Review

What To Do With A Duke

What To Do With A DukeTitle: What To Do With A Duke
Author: Sally MacKenzie
Series: Spinster House #1
Publisher: Zebra Publishing
First Published: August 25, 2015
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley


Welcome to the charming, fatefully named village of Loves Bridge, where a woman destined for spinsterhood can live a life of her own choosing—or fall unexpectedly, madly in love…

Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting would rather be lounging in the library than circling the ballroom in search of a husband any day. So when Cat hears that the town’s infamous Spinster House is open for a new resident, she jumps at the chance to put all this marriage business behind her. But first she must make arrangements with her prospective landlord, Marcus, the Duke of Hart—the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and the only man who’s ever impressed her in the least…

With her wit, independent spirit, and not least of all her beauty, Marcus can’t help but be stirred by Cat. It’s terribly unfortunate he’s not looking to marry, given the centuries-old curse that left his family with the Spinster House to begin with. No duke shall live to see his heir’s birth. But is there a chance the curse could be broken—in true fairy-tale fashion—by an act of true love? The race to Happily Ever After is about to begin...

My Review:

When it comes to historical romance, I look for one of two things: a steamy and compelling love story or a light and fluffy clean romance. What I demand from all historical romances is for both the romance and the setting to be believable. When I went into this book, with the cute cover and hints at a curse, I figured this one might fall on the fluffy side of the spectrum – the cat on the cover may have influenced this assumption. I was sadly mistaken, and I wonder sometimes if my standards are too high.
But can you understand at all how fleeting a woman’s existence is? We give up our lives and possessions – even our names – to our husbands. Our bodies become little more than vessels for children, to continue our husbands’ lines.
The characters in this book seemed so non-committal, not just with each other, but with upholding any of the values they claim to have. Catherine was constantly complaining about how she needed peace and solitude to write, but in the first half of the novel whenever she had it she didn’t do it. She blames family for her difficulties with not being able to be the next great novelist, but the problem was really with the fact that she was not all that committed to writing. I found her frustrating at every turn and had a hard time rooting for her.

The other half of this love story was hardly any better. Marcus is dreamy for all of a few minutes until he started talking about his manhood… Which he proceeded to do all the time. Every time the narration would switch to him, inevitably a thought would end with some note about what his cock wants. I suppose Marcus’ raw desire was supposed to be tantalizing, but I just found it vulgar. When questions of the origins of the curse arose, he didn’t care, which contradicted his entire character arc. With the curse plotline, I could suspend my belief and go with it for a while, but even that felt like it was poorly thought out. Marcus has to control his desires and avoid marriage because he’s fearful of accidentally impregnating a woman, thus ending his life. Though somehow, he has no problem with brothel women and the risk of impregnating any of them? I came to hate him as a love interest.

There is a touch of magic that I felt was unnecessary. It just seemed too convenient, too hastily put together. I almost put this book down after the first couple of chapters, but I pushed through hoping that the story would redeem itself but it never did. Catherine spends the entire novel preaching about never wanting to get trapped in a marriage and to never have children, then finds herself trapped. It wasn’t romantic, it was just frustrating.

Everything about Marcus and Catherine was lust at first sight. I didn’t feel any real chemistry between them, even by the end when they are apparently in love with each other I still wasn’t feeling it. Literally, everything always boiled back down to sex. The rest of the story and dialogue was not even all that funny, clever, or witty, it was just two stubborn people wanting to get in each other’s pants. It wasn’t charming or romantic.

Trigger Warning: Sex

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.

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