Bowen, Kelly. A Duke in the Night. New York: Forever/Grand Central Publishing, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-1-4789-1856-1. $7.99 USD.
Kelly Bowen won me over with her past two series, and even if her heroines were a bit anachronistic and forward-thinking, I still found myself adding her to my autobuy list. Sadly, the first book in her new Devils of Dover series is not for me, especially in comparison with some of the books I loved from her, like A Duke to Remember.
This is a well-written book, and it is easy to get into. However, the problem with the characters and execution of the plot is that they are everything I don’t like crammed into one book.
The hero, August, is the lesser of the two offenders, despite initially bothering me a lot more. Not being a fan of the duke/billionaire trope, I was not impressed to see them rolled into one with this hero. However, I did like that he was driven (sometimes too much so), due to him not having the best upbringing, setting him apart from his peers who were raised in the lap of luxury. I quite liked the development of his relationship with his sister, Anne, and the conflicts that ensue from him wanting her to have the best, but her wanting to pursue her own interests.
Despite initial warm feelings toward Clara, they quickly evaporated when she proved to not be only mildly anachronistic like other Bowen heroines, but someone who would probably a complete scandal if she really had existed. I understand what Bowen was trying to do in imbuing her heroine with relatability to modern readers, but to someone who expects a modicum of historical accuracy in the mores poeticof the period, it just felt out of place. More than once, she argues with August about double standards, a concept that would have been alien in the reputation-conscious upper-class of the Regency period. And even worse, after a passionate interlude, she insists it cannot happen again, due to the risk to her reputation and the potential that she might lose her school, but then sometime later, in the heat of the moment, they jump into bed together on two separate occasions. Not to mention there’s a passing remark that August wasn’t even her first lover, making it even harder to suspend disbelief.
All in all, i feel this is one of those books where, if you don’t mind a book that takes massive poetic license with what was acceptable at the time, you’ll really enjoy it. And despite my disappointment with this book, there were still things I enjoyed, such as the introduction of Clara’s baron/physician brother, which will have me checking out Bowen’s future books.