Review of “To Love a Scandalous Duke” (Once Upon a Scandal #1)

De La Rosa, Liana. To Love a Scandalous Duke. Fort Collins, CO: Entangled Publishing, 2017. ISBN-13: 9781976047909. $14.99 USD. 

5 stars

I received this book through a giveaway from the author. All opinions are my own.

It can be hard to know what to expect from a debut author, and in my experience some debuts I’ve read in the past year or two have been good, while others have been more lackluster. With Liana De La Rosa’s debut, it is definitely the former. To Love a Scandalous Duke checks all the boxes of things I love: a fun spin on the friends-to-lovers trope, two compelling and unique lead characters, and a well-paced conspiracy plot.

Declan, the new Duke of Darington, is the type of duke that doesn’t make me want to roll my eyes: he’s a second son who found himself thrust into the position unexpectedly due to tragedy in the family, and the scandal attached to his name and background is intriguing. And through his character, De La Rosa, does explore some elements of colonialism and racism and England, which is something that is more loosely implied in most other works set in the the same time period.

Alethea “Allie” is no less interesting. She seems like someone who very much wants her father’s approval, and is caught between that and the attraction between her and Declan. And the way De La Rosa ups the stakes that makes her choose between those two is wonderfully done, and when the moment she finds out she isn’t who she always believed she was is a truly gripping moment.

Each chapter contains an epigraph from the diary of a woman who is not immediately identified, adding to the mystery of the narrative. However, once her identity is revealed, it is chilling to go back and read some of the epigraphs and see how they correspond to the big secret of Allie’s identity, and it is something I would recommend.

 

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