The first of a new series from Alexandra Hawkins, A Duke but No Gentleman completely fits the title, and was laden with interesting elements that vary from intriguing to difficult: where violence against the heroine is used as plotting device. Please read on for my review of this newly released Regency romance.
I was intrigued by the premise of two friends that are vying for a single girl. Isobel is newly arrived for the season, and in a bit of difficulty from her aiding a friend to elope with an unsuitable (read not titled) man. Despite her ‘naivete’, Isobel quickly is enchanted by Tristan, and her mother catches them in a compromising position. Warning off Tristan, she is determined, at that moment, to keep Imogen from the notorious pair of friends.
Tristan (The Duke) and Norgrave (the Marquess) have been ‘friends’ for years, actually, they are acquaintances who compete over EVERYTHING, cards, horses, whether the sun will rise …you get the picture. Both are spoilt children with a need to cover their decided insecurities but proving their superiorities. While Hawkins does portray the thoughtlessness in their behavior and personality in keeping with rakes of the day, these two hit every distasteful emotion possible for me: I had difficulty finding redemption or solid traits to admire in either man.
Tristan, after the brief interlude with Isobel is intrigued, but Norgrave knew of the encounter with her mother and proposes a wager: the one who claims the fair Isobel’s maidenhead first will win. And, rather than recognizing the over the top nature of the wager, Tristan is all in.
Told in rotational POV, the voices are uneven in their clarity and singular purpose: this had the characters of Tristan and Norgrave particularly confused. Isobel is a bit clearer, but the absolute flaunting of all social conventions for a debutante of the time was incredibly problematic for me. How is it that Isobel is able to travel where, when and with whom she chooses, freely without a chaperone? Of course, giving her such freedoms allows for multiple moments to tryst with Tristan, until he wins the bet. And then. The story goes completely south. Norgrave, in a fit of jealousy or pique or just depravity lures Isobel to a meeting, where he rapes her. And, she purportedly enjoys is. Sorry, but Ms. Hawkins jumped far over the line of acceptable here.
An attempt to recover from that incident and a few ‘incidents’ due to Norgrave’s bad behavior and the story wraps with a bow. Unconvincingly for me. I can’t say that I would recommend this story, I’m saddened by the lack of believable plot: I could easily believe in and understand, even as I disliked them. Isobel, to me was half-finished and less interesting as a person, she was an element, for a purpose, without clear intention.
Title: A Duke but No Gentleman
Author: Alexandra Hawkins
Series: Masters of Seduction,
Also in this series: Waiting For an Earl Like You
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Published on: June 30th 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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The Duke of Blackbern and the Marquess Norgrave have always had the wildest of friendships. Best friends growing up, they bask in the pleasures the rich, opulent world that London has to offer, consuming drink and women at their leisure.
But Norgrave has always been a step behind. Blackbern can best him at anything—playing cards, riding horses, and bedding women. So when the stunningly beautiful but innocent Lady Imogen Sunter strays across their path, both men agree a friendly competition for the lady's affections cannot hurt.
But when Blackbern's feelings turn into something deeper and Lady Imogen's desire become clear, Norgrave will do anything to win the wager. Only one man can lay claim to Lady Imogen's heart… and one shocking act will change them all irrevocably…
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.