Strengths and Weaknesses
The Reluctant Duchess is the sequel to The Lost Heiress, and has all the same strengths—and weaknesses.
Americans don’t seem to understand that a title is a title, not a first name. I found the continual use of “Duke” and “Duchess” as names to be annoying and disrespectful—I know teenagers go through school calling their teachers “Sir” and “Miss” (regardless of age or marital status), but an adult wouldn’t call President Obama “Pres”, although he might be called Mr President. Nor would we refer to Prince Harry as “Prince”, partly because Prince refers to The Artist who recently died. (Also, the architecture of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton isn’t Russian. At least, not according to the guide book I bought when I visited the Pavilion a few years back. Or Wikipedia).
Leaving that aside, The Reluctant Duchess was very good. I love Roseanna White’s writing, especially her clever turns of phrase:
The smile one wore in company. The way one spoke, laughed, connived. Lessons no one had bothered teaching Lady Rowena Kinnaird.It’s a twist on the marriage of convenience plot, with Brice, the Duke of Nottingham, offering to marry Lady Rowena Kinnaird after she is threatened by a “suitor”, and because God told him to. Lady Rowena knows she has to marry, and soon, but can’t stomach the thought of what goes with marriage—not after her recent attack by her “suitor” (which, of course, Brice knows nothing about). This is a picture of God’s love in action, and it’s refreshing to see Christian fiction which is actually Christian. More, please!
So there is the married-strangers plot and the jealous-ex subplot. There is also a subplot which follows over from the first book around some missing jewels. Both Brice and Rowena find themselves in the middle of a plot to locate and steal the jewels . . . only Brice has them very well hidden. This provides an excellent suspense plot to go along with the developing relationship between Brice and Rowena.
The Reluctant Duchess can easily be read as a standalone novel. Recommended for historical romance fans, especially those who enjoy novels set in the Edwardian era (aka when Downton Abbey is set).
Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Roseanna M White at her website (http://roseannawhite.com/wordpress/), and you can read the introduction to The Reluctant Duchess here: