Guhrke, Laura Lee. The Truth About Love and Dukes. New York: Avon Books, 2017.
Mass Market Paperback | $7.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0062469854 | 369 pages | Victorian Romance
The Truth About Love and Dukes was a DNF from about a year ago for no real reason other than I wasn’t feeling the characters, but I had heard good things about the second book, so needing to read in order if possible, I picked it up again. And while it was definitely better and more interesting this time around, it still left a lot to be desired.
The pros are that the characters on their own are well-written and fleshed out. They’re not always likable, but they each have redeeming features that make them easy to root for. Henry is typically the antithesis of my favorite hero type, being a stuffy, cynical duke, but his concern for his family, even if it was a touch overbearing at times, is touching, and the way he came to realize that his mother’s happiness was more important than social standing was great. Irene is a spitfire suffragist who does kind of embody the worst stereotypes of feminists at times with her argumentative and managing nature, but I feel like she too was well-intentioned.
But the misfire occurred in pairing these two together. I can grasp that strong personalities can often work together in a great opposites-attract/enemies-to-lovers romance, but I kind of wish more effort was put into making them do so, instead of them spending the bulk of the book alternately arguing and being tempted by their lust for one another (eventually giving in, of course). While healthy sexual desire is often a key component in many a healthy relationship, when their primary feelings for each other are anger and lust, I don’t see how it convincingly translates to lasting love. There were only a few moments where I felt they did have a chance, like when he suggests to her that she should work on her argument for why women should gain the right to vote, and after some trial and error, she convinces him. But otherwise, I found the romance rather weak.
However, this is all just my opinion, and I have seen reviews on both sides of the spectrum for this book. I think if you like some of the tropes in this book, like enemies-to-lovers, a feminist heroine, and an arrogant, but secretly compassionate, duke, then I would recommend this.