Barnes, Sophie. A Most Unlikely Duke. New York: Avon Books, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-256678-2. Print List Price: $7.99.
I would like to preface this review with an apology. In my ignorance of how Edelweiss works, I requested an ARC of this there, not realizing the site only offered digital copies. So, despite the fact that this is a bit late (reviews for ARCs were due for Sophie’s Ambassadors on the 26th), I am leaving an honest review.
I did not know what to expect going in. I adored Sophie’s Thorcliff Manor series, but as I am one of those people who is dismayed with the oversaturation of beefcake on romance covers, I was almost turned off by this. I was doubly dismayed by the fact the cover and some of the other poses they did in the cover shoot didn’t give us a real good look at the dress.
But upon reviewing the synopsis of the book again, and getting into the story, I changed my mind on the cover, as it does represent the story, although I do think this one would have benefited from a stepback. On the cover, perhaps, he could have been dressed up, and have them in a similar pose to the one you see, but inside there’s them together and him shirtless. Just a thought.
Now, on to the actual review on the content…
I adored this book. One of the things I love about the historical romance is looking at class and wealth, and all the complications of that. It is so common for a poor or otherwise unattractive girl to get swept off her feet by the powerful lordling, but here, we have a man who had a less-than-ideal upbringing in poverty who has been raised unexpectedly to the aristocracy, and has to learn all that that entails, and a woman who chafes at the expectations she has been raised with her entire life. And I love how Sophie gives these characters a sense of self-awareness at the hypocrisy of upper-class society: you can be as indiscreet as you like, as long as you don’t get caught in a scandal.
One of my favorite moments was when Raphe helps Victoria get her annulment and gives her a place to live with his old friend, Mr. Thompson. I thought of this as a sort of “reverse Pride and Prejudice Lydia” moment.