Arc provided by Avon through Edelweiss
TW: Mentions of Rape
Having read the first book in this series, I was eagerly anticipating Edie and Stuart, the Duke and Duchess of Malgrave's story.
The duchess who had won her freedom by making a pact with her future husband, had definitely caught my interest. The deal: She would save him and his family from bankruptcy with her dowry, she would become a Duchess, and after that, both of them would follow their own paths.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Now, what do you think would happen if the Duke had a change of heart?
What if _ after five years gone _ he decided that he wanted a true marriage?
Stuart, the Duke of Malgrave doesn't see the problem with wanting to have a proper marriage.
He's an amiable chap, not bad looking, _the lioness didn't chew any vital part of his body _ and one can say that he may even have fallen in love with Edie at first sight...
The problem being, Edie wasn't interested in romance or in letting herself fall in love when she met Stuart. Let me correct that: She still isn't interested in marriage or children... even though she may be attracted to her husband.
The title is somewhat misleading. This is not a funny, silly and light story. On the contrary.
Edie has very strong reasons to want to protect her heart and her body.
She was raped a couple of years back. As a result, her reputation ended up ruined, therefore her father trying to marry her _ an american heiress _ into an English title.
I must say that I felt that the author approached this subject in a very careful way, and even knowing Edie's story, I kept hoping for these two people to find a way to make a relationship work. No matter how much time it took.
I appreciated the fact that the author "waited" five years to let Stuart return... Just like I appreciated that Edie got to be the master of her own house, and of her own world, allowing her to develop her self esteem and her personality.
We get a little insight into what must have been a thorough source of conflict between the English way (the old way, the correct way) and the American way, with Edie's and her butler small "bickeries".
Also, as has been the case in the latest author's works, this story seems to have taken place towards the end of the nineteenth century.
As a reader I can't help feeling that this opens up a whole new role of possibilities story-wise.
In this one we get to know how annulment and the possibility of divorce was seen. What was needed in order to get it... unfortunately almost a miracle, but it existed.
This romance wouldn't have worked out if the trauma Edie suffered had been neglected story wise.
It wasn't, which allowed for a much stronger story.
Stuart is a calm person, but a determined one, and even though I had my doubts regarding the bet these two made (there my four star... and the reason for the title) I think the way the author dealt with this matter was as good as possible, taking into consideration that this is a romance novel.
This means that this felt as real as possible in a novel that would have to finish with a HEA.
Bottom Line: Despite some slower parts _ due to the theme and what was happening _ and the fact that I wouldn't mind if a certain scene had been even more delayed _ and even though the outcome felt very realistic _ this is a very solid story, developed around a sensitive theme, and that as such deserves the respect dealt by the author.
Pre-order: "How To Lose a Duke In Ten Days"