Review of “To the Duke, With Love” (The Rakes of St. James #2) by Amelia Grey

Grey, Amelia. To the Duke, With Love. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1-250-10251-5. $7.99 USD. 

4.5 stars

I received an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

While second installments of trilogies often have a tendency to be a bit “meh,” I actually found I enjoyed this one much more than its predecessor. And while it is still not without its flaws, the plot and cast are both much more engaging.

Like many dukes, Hawk is an acquired taste for me. Quite a bit of his behavior was annoying for me, like his expectation that he’d always get his own way, “because he’s a duke.” But throughout the book, there were moments that slowly won me over, like when he is the one to profess his love for and propose to Loretta, and he helps her both to recant the vow she made when she was eighteen which has been like a noose around her neck for years, and later helps to ensure that Farley is safe. And it is quite obvious that the two have chemistry, even when they are sparring over their differences.

Loretta is a great, layered character, and her flaws make her more interesting. I love that she is concerned that her brother will make the wrong choice, although at times she is blinded by her own experience, and doesn’t realize till later that not everyone reacts in the same way.

She also shows her flaws (and probably those of many of us as well) in her interactions with the homeless orphan, Farley. It is only natural to take pity on an orphan, and perhaps some of us would even give him second chances when he disappointed us. So while she may seem naive to some people, I feel she behaves as a truly compassionate human who wants to see the best in people.

And though they were only secondary characters, I came to love both Paxton and Adele. From early on in the novel, Paxton is portrayed as the anti-rake, as Hawk states that Paxton is “a fine gentleman who prefers books over swords, poetry over carousing, and tea over brandy.” (13) While this reputation may largely be due to his limited income, his mutual love for his sister further endeared him to me. And the same could be said for Adele, who joins in with Paxton in defending Loretta to Hawk at one point, making me wish we got to see much more of them and their courtship.

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