How (Not) to Marry a Duke by Felicia Kingsley

How (Not) to Marry a Duke by Felicia Kingsley

Felicia Kingsley comes to the blog today with her debut romantic comedy

How (Not) to Marry a Duke

A bit of a mixed bag story here: influences from Pride and Prejudice, Taming of the Shrew, and others as well as the addition of several tropes {most of which are included for an unknown reason} are in this story, with plenty of conflict – perhaps too much, and an ending that managed to undo all of the growth and progress for the couple –a growth that was hard won and desperately needed to not make the book feel like a juvenile game of ‘who can score the first point’.

Jemma Pears is a make-up artist, working in the theatre, in productions that are far from high quality or popular. Until a change in the company’s production, and her services are no longer needed. There is an out for her though, her grandmother’s death has left her with an unusual bequest: marry a titled man and receive an inheritance worth millions, don’t marry and have nothing. Unemployed and without actual prospects, her solicitor, who is also dating a friend of hers, makes a plan: Marry the Duke of Burlingham, Ashford, and solve everyone’s problems. She gets the money, Ashford is saved from bankruptcy, and no-one needs to be the wiser.

Jemma clings, near desperately to her ‘one of the people’ motto, with her parents embracing every cliché from the 70’s hippies that one could imagine, and her own rather isolated childhood because of it. Not wanting her parents to think she’s sold out – she agrees to a registry office marriage if it can be kept secret, and she never has to see the uptight and cold Ashford again. For his part: her brash and bold makeup, provocative clothing and accent, straight out of the gutter, are not quite enough, but the wolves are at the door – so he agrees, certain that he won’t have to mention, see, or think about Jemma again.

Of course the secret isn’t kept –and Jemma is the fish out of water: far different and more ‘in your face’ than other women ‘born to the life’ and Ashford’s mother is a roaring bitch – Jemma’s arrival just adds to her bad behavior. Ashford is a total snob- he and Jemma do little but snipe at one another: he dreads spending time with her, yet can’t be arsed to help in her introduction to the world as his duchess.

Early on, perhaps the first half, the story was loaded with clichés and caricatures, with varied success – but the predictability was tempered with a slowly developing growth for both Ash and Jemma – as she actually makes an effort to ‘be the duchess’ and he recognizes her never-give-up attitude, even facing down the tigers of the tonne. But they still aren’t communicating, and despite Ashford’s rather cold manner and unwillingness to help her adjust – Jemma’s willingness to jump to the wrong {and most damning} assumptions brings the story to a ‘Leave him and don’t tell him about the pregnancy’ moment that undid ALL of her growth, most of his – and then resolved. No real anything except the feeling that the word count had hit a specific target.

A debut that needed more editing, more development of characters, less tropes and a single rather than multiple set of influences left me flat – despite the moments that showed the author’s ability to create depth in Jemma and Ashford – taking them from flat, overdrawn caricature to more dimensional people, flawed but plausible.

How (Not) to Marry a Duke by Felicia Kingsley

Title: How (Not) to Marry a Duke
Author: Felicia Kingsley
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Published by: Aria
ISBN: 9781788548427
Published on: 21 August,2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 389
Rated: two-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon iTunes Kobo Google
See this Title on Goodreads

One minute, Jemma Pears is a struggling theatrical make-up artist in London. The next, she's been left a vast fortune by her estranged grandmother. The catch: she must marry a man with a title to inherit. Jemma thinks this is truly impossible: she's a romantic, searching for true love, not just a convenient marriage... and besides, where would she even find a titled guy?

Enter Ashford, the new Duke of Burlingham. His legacy: massive debts that he must pay back immediately or risk the bank seizing his assets. Or worse: his mother's wrath!

When their lawyer hears of their situations, a secret match is made despite their mutual hatred of each other: through marrying Ashford, Jemma can inherit and Ashford can pay back his debts immediately. Problem solved. That is, until their marriage is leaked to the press and everyone finds out...

Now they have to play out the charade for at least a year or risk going to jail for fraud!

A hilarious pretense ensues and Jemma must battle against a crazy mother in law, a stuffy aristocracy, and finally, and most surprisingly of all, confusing feelings for Ashford...!

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.


About Felicia Kingsley

Felicia Kingsley lives in a small town near Modena and works as an architect. Her debut novel How (Not) to Marry a Duke was the second most read e-book in Italy in 2017.


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