Linden, Caroline. My Once and Future Duke. New York: Avon Books, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-0-06-267292-6. $7.99 USD.
I’ve long been a Caroline Linden fan, but some of her recent work, particularly the novella she released last year, was not my cup of tea. And while I did find myself enjoying this one a lot more, it is by no means a perfect book, although it is an incredibly well-written, entertaining story.
There were good things. I enjoyed the idea of the heroine being the one engaged in slightly scandalous behavior and the hero being the one who’s more strait-laced, and appreciate that Linden found a way to do this that felt believable from a historical standpoint. I also did like that the characters were nuanced and their motivations and backstories felt realistic and made me understand them, even if I didn’t always agree with their actions (which was definitely the case with the duke practically abducting Sophie at one point). And even though they seem like an unlikely pair, Jack and Sophie do work well as a couple and complement each other.
Where it falls apart for me is the lack of real originality in and my general distaste for the story of duke (especially those who constantly trumpet about how they can get everything they want, but their mother’s or society’s demands make clear they can’t) falling in love with someunsuitable woman. While some writers can pull it off and make the story their own, I just didn’t feel it here, even though the characters and their romance was fine aside from that factor. The additional cliche of throwing in the misunderstanding that he’s going to marry someone else and instead of sensibly going to him to resolve it, she goes to someone who we know (and she should know, based on past events) has a romantic interest in her for answers irked me a little too much.
However, it is still a decent book by Caroline Linden, and I love that she brought some of her older characters from her first few published books (which I have yet to read) back, and will be setting more stories within that “world.”