Caldwell, Christi. For Love of the Duke. 2014. New York: Spencer Hill Press, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1-63392-103-0. $12.95 USD.
*Note on series numbering: Goodreads and retailers like Amazon list this as book one. However, the Heart of a Duke character map lists it as book two, with the digital-exclusive prequel, In Need of a Duke/In Need of a Knight listed as book one.
The first full-length installment in Christi Caldwell’s Heart of a Duke series shows great potential, and despite a few inconsistencies, it lived up to my expectations. She delivers a story that is at times humorous, and at times emotional, giving readers a full journey with these two characters.
Jasper can be a hard character to like sometimes, but you can sympathize with him to an extent, even if you don’t agree with some of his less-than-kind behavior. There are things about his story arc that don’t add up, however. I can understand him being devastated about the loss of his wife, but given that wives dying in childbirth was a such a common occurrence, I don’t know why he felt the sense of guilt he did. I can understand him being afraid of it happening again, but in a time when it was still considered a “duty” for women to bear children for their husbands, it does seem out of place that he would blame himself for killing her.
Katherine was likable, and I could see why she got under Jasper’s skin. I like that she was well-read and didn’t let him be set in his ways during the time they were living together in part one. I also like that, despite having fallen in love with the good side of him, she has the guts to leave and attempt to move on with her life, setting up for the big climactic hero moment.
As is often the case with self-published books, the quality of the prose can be a weak point, as was evident in the last Caldwell book I read. While the copyright page of the first edition indicates it did receive copy editing and proofreading, I feel like there could have been more work put in to ensure that the book flowed better. Some examples included using a person’s name twice in a sentence when a pronoun could easily been substituted, an inconsistency with a major character’s title, and including titles of later installments in the series on a page alongside a citation of a certain poem. And given the amount of time that this book devoted to discussion of and citation of poetry, it grew tiresome to have Wordsworth’s The Excursion, the book that plays a major role in Jasper and Katherine’s courtship, constantly referred to as “Wordsworth’s work” or “Wordsworth’s volume,” instead of referring to it by its title.