In this book, Elinor, the second dowager marchioness of Standon is determined to pry her younger sister from the clutches of her evil stepfather and nothing less than marrying a duke will do to derout the scoundrel. And the first step on that endeavour is to procure the services of a man who she assumes is a solicitor. James Tremont, duke of Parkerton doesn't disabuse her of the notion, and presents himself as plain Mr. St-Maur. Through misunderstanding to misadventure, the two get closer to one another, even as Elinor grows more determined to settle on a man on her short list of dukes.
As a rule I really enjoy Elizabeth Boyle's books because she rarely uses cookie cutter misses and heroes in her books. Not only that, but she takes time to flesh them out, to give us insight in why they think the way they do, and how they come to enjoy the other's company above others. And she gives the emotions time and room to breathe, her characters have the time to reflect on what it is that is happening to them, and she make us privy to those thoughts. So this book is as worthy as any on the romance bookshelf.
But I thought this one, while having a lot of the elements that I like to find in a book just didn't have that tilt that sometimes makes a book better than the sum of its parts. I didn't enjoy it as much as others in the same series. Maybe I am being difficult, because I did like the hero, I thought the comical plot moved along at a satisfying pace (and it was very well written, you can sense that the details were planned to the best possible effect, the author is definitely talented), and the heroine had a worthy cause.
Somehow I was a little less excited about the heroine who seems overly absentminded that she is very attracted to this man she's barely met, and you'd think that being very attracted to him would also make her observant to the idiosyncrasies that give him away as not a man of business but one step removed from royalty. Of course, without those, there wouldn't have been a book, so allowances must be made in this area. But I found Elinor to be less characterised than usual, we get that she loves dogs and had a disastrous first marriage, and the rest is a little vague.
Also, there isn't as big a peril in the book as there were in previous instances, the denouement could have been handled better, and seemed a little anti-climactic. The conclusion doesn't provide much of an epilogue either.
Still, it is a good book, a good read, but I think it is much less memorable than other books by Ms Boyle.
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