I started reading romances in college, many many years ago. It was kind of lonely because no one really talked about them. There was the danger of being judged, and I still cared about such things. I read romances all through law school and all through my decade in a traditional office based career, and through my years in non-traditional, non-career working and then about 6 years ago, I mostly stopped. I would occasionally read an Eloisa James or Julia Quinn, but the Jayne Anne Krentz/Amanda Quick train had gone off the rails with the woo-woo, Nora Roberts was just writing the same three stories with the same 7 characters over and over again, and Stephanie Laurens seemed to believe that the aristocracy was inherently better than the rest of us, and that’s some classist bullshit there. I was burned a few too many times by new authors to be willing to shell out the money and the eReader was not yet a thing. And then I met Prolixity Julien and Malin through Pajiba and the CBR and they were talking about romance novels the way other people talk about Oprah’s book club selections. My forays back into the romance genre are largely the result of Mrs. Julien and Malin pointing me to new authors and lending or even giving me copies of books to read. Julie Anne Long’s What I Did For a Duke is only the most recent example of their kindness and generosity. It’s so much more fun to read when I know I’m going to be able to talk about the books with smart people who read them too. I include the rest of you romance reading Cannonballers in that statement, too.
Alex is a Duke with a mysterious past and vengeance on his mind. Genevieve is the youngest daughter of a wealthy but untitled family who has just had her heart shattered. The book takes place over a few days during a house party. Usually, I would be rolling my eyes at the idea that two people could truly fall in love in a few days, but Long makes it work. Alex is focused on Genevieve for a reason, and looks at her in a way he would not under normal circumstances. Genevieve has had her heart broken and is separated from her usual group of friends by that heartache. I not only want them to fall in love, I believe that they fall in love. Each pulls the other out of their accepted roles. Add in some snappy dialogue, well drawn side characters, discussions of art and steamy after midnight action, and you’ve got a good read.
I hear that What I Did For a Duke sets a bar that the rest of the series (so far) doesn’t quite reach. That’s fine. I’ll read them anyway.