Bowen, Kelly, et. al. No Dukes Allowed. Hagerstown. MD: Grace Burrowes Publishing, 2018.
Paperback | $7.46 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1941419632 | 308 pages | Regency Romance
When this anthology was announced, I was excited. As one of the rare romance readers who not only “doesn’t love a duke,” but sometimes loathes their constant presence in romance to the point where they’re invading subgenres and settings that I would normally go to to get away from dukes, it’s refreshing to have a new anthology that not only celebrates good, honest, hardworking Regency men, but portrays what I think would have been the more common archetype of the Regency aristocrat: self-absorbed with their own importance, to contrast with the many romanticized portrayals on the market.
Architect of My Dreams by Grace Burrowes
This story is promising, with a great reversal of the cross-class romance. I enjoyed seeing the development of the relationship between Adam and Eugenia, especially given Adam’s hostile feelings toward dukes for the way one treated his father, and the widowed duchess Eugenia being pursued and blackmailed by that duke’s profligate son. However, I did feel that the relationship between Adam and Eugenia was based on lust, and while I could see what she might find to love about him, I wasn’t sure what he really saw in her.
Pursuit of Honor by Kelly Bowen
My favorite from the collection, I enjoyed this story of friends-to-lovers and the stakes keeping them apart. I loved the conflict that arose from Oliver feeling the need to behave honorably toward his betrothed, even at the expense of his feelings for Diana. I was also pleased with how the situation was resolved, with Oliver not having to do the dishonorable thing, and with his fiancee Hannah’s happiness assured. I also thoroughly enjoyed the subplot that tied Oliver’s search for his sister to Diana’s own closed-minded, scoundrel duke suitor, and I was glad to see a happy resolution there, also with a good man.
The Double Duchess by Anna Harrington stars
I thoroughly enjoyed this second chance romance, and I loved the hero of this one. I love that Max chose to do the difficult thing concerning the woman he loved and let her marry someone else, given that his circumstances were so bad at the time. And while I could relate to Belinda’s feelings on the matter, that Max left her, I did feel like she could be hard to relate to in this matter, especially since she did have a decent life, compared to the hardships that she might have faced as the wife of a minor soldier. However, I did find the intrigues surrounding the debate between their two causes of the hospital for the pensioned officers and academy for the cadets interesting, and I very much enjoyed the way it was resolved.