My friend and I recently went to Book Club night at our local — and amazing — book store, One More Page in Arlington, where they discussed Bringing Down the Duke. We had a fun night with a great group, and hope to be back for a gathering in the future.
What was interesting to me was that we all agreed that the book was a quick, engrossing read, and that we all liked it. However, most people agreed they probably wouldn’t read the next book in the series (honestly, she really picked a clunker of a couple to talk about for next time), and almost all of us had voted that we wouldn’t have cared if the main couple had ended up together or not.
So that left me wondering. Did I really like the book? Or did I like the fact that it was a quick and easy read that distracted me from current events and work?
England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.
Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?
Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….
I guess because this book can be found in the romance section of your bookstore or library, it was only fair to assume that Annabelle and the Duke would find a way to make things work, propriety and politics be damned. I never doubted that they would both make sacrifices in order to be together. I knew they would have their happy ending.
But I never really felt that their “happy” ending was all that deserved. I wanted Annabelle to head off and go on the dig with her goofy professor. That’s what she was passionate about. I needed more than to be told how much they had the hots for each other, how many times the Duke was going to clench his fists, and how beautiful they were.
As far as debut novels go, it certainly wasn’t bad. Dunmore had clearly done her research into the historical era, and into the suffragette movement. But I never felt completely sure what era I was reading about, until Queen Victoria or Benjamin Disraeli was mentioned by name, or a reference was made to the Duke’s estate having gas lighting. I think I otherwise assumed that this story was taking place in the Jane Austen era…Pride & Prejudice in particular. I also thought that the suffragette storyline was not as well developed as it could have been. Annabelle seemed to be forced into the suffragette storyline, and her lack of passion for the cause was a little bit annoying.
Bottom line: didn’t love this, didn’t hate it. Was glad I went to book club and met some new book friends!