Grace Burrowes, et. al. How to Find a Duke in Ten Days. [United States]: cJewel Books, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1937823627. $3.99 USD (Digital price; no longer available in paperback)
I was instantly sold by the concept of this anthology, following three bibliophile heroes searching for volumes of the rare Duke’s Book of Knowledge, also referred to informally as “the Dukes.” I love that the authors (as well as the late Miranda Neville, who was meant to contribute to the anthology as well) created a plausible historical basis for this set of books, presenting the right circumstances for each of the men and their respective heroines to go on their searches for the volumes.
“The Will to Love” by Grace Burrowes
I was excited when I found out that Ramsdale, who appeared in Burrowes’ prior collaboration, The Duke’s Bridle Path, would get his HEA in this anthology. However, out of the three in this anthology, I found this one the weakest, mostly because I felt that the connection between him and Philomena wasn’t well-developed, especially since there is time devoted to her father’s relationship with her companion, a relationship which is not resolved at all. However, I did feel like both Philomena and Ramsdale were likable characters, they just weren’t given enough time for me to be convinced that their relationship would work, especially given that a misunderstanding regarding where his affection lies plays a role in the plot.
“How to Steal a Duke (in Ten Days, Give or Take a Few Days, But Definitely Less than a Fortnight” by Shana Galen
I was unsure of this one at first, given it does contain one of my least favorite tropes, this one being the stuffy duke whose hidden layers are revealed by a woman who isn’t interested in his title. But Galen brings something fresh to the long-tired trope. Like his fellow Bibliomania Club members, Dominick has a love for books, and at one point, it is even stated that he prefers his books to the typical pursuits of a gentleman of the time, like gambling or whoring, which won me over, and the way he shows his concern for Rosalyn’s family immediately upon learning their situation, and later for Rosalyn herself when they are on their journey, is another point in his favor.
“‘The Viscount’s First Kiss” by Carolyn Jewel
This one is of course my favorite in the anthology, as it is a wonderful friends-to-lovers story. It also is a wonderful closer to the anthology, providing a conclusion to the plot threads regarding “the Duke’s Book.” Through Lord Daunt, we see the world of difference between sex and love, as he is known in society to be a rake, even having a child with one of his former partners, but throughout it all, he has been in love with Magdalene, who was his friend’s wife, now his widow. And of the three couples in the anthology, they form the best match, given that she is outwardly shy, but shares his passion for old, rare books. It was wonderful to see these two go from the shared purpose of looking for the remaining Dukes to exploring their passion for one another, and then finally declaring their love.