Ok, how to convey that I loved this book! Like proper loved this book I reckon I could write a dissertation on this book pulling out all the different bits that I spotted and loved about this book!
I was sending a friend of mine gushing texts about this book and telling her that she NEEDs to read it, oh and I also stayed up till 2am reading this book! I couldn’t put it down; I finished it less than 48 hours after getting it.
This is historical romance fiction, but not as you know it, there are no ‘heaving bosoms’, nor do I think there are any references to tight britches. Instead we have Annabelle Archer, one of the first female students to be admitted to the illustrious Oxford University. To fund her studies she has a scholarship from the National Society for Women’s Suffrage, in return for her scholarship, Annabelle needs to work with her new friends, Lady Lucie, Harriet and Catriona, to convince men of influence to back their cause for women’s suffrage and amend the Property Act.
Of course, one of these men of influence is the Duke of Montgomery, Sebastian Devereux, the 19th Duke of Montgomery, is a man on a mission to reinstate his families lost ancestral home of Montgomery Castle. The Castle was lost by his Father years before in a card game. Our Duke is the opposite of everything his Farther was, he’s restoring the family honour and fortunes, you could argue that being an influential Duke with what seems like half a dozen properties and who has just been asked by Queen Vic herself to be the Chief Strategic Adviser for the Tory re-election party, he would have restored the family honour, but nope he’s obsessed with getting the castle back.
Okays, so we have Annabelle, we have Montgomery. She is the liberal hardworking blue stocking; he is the haughty hereditary Tory Peer. Obviously, they are going to repel each other like oil and water…..
Honestly, I am just smiling to myself; this is that kind of book. The one where characters come alive and leap off the page at you, even just typing this and looking at my notes that I made while reading I am smiling to myself.
They meet, they meet again and then there is of course the classic literary trope of the misunderstanding, ( he mistakes her for a social climber who has got her claws into his younger brother), and then she gets ill while staying at his home. Anyway, they spend time together they realise that maybe they may have misjudged each other and get to know each other better.
While she recovers from her illness we have two of the sweetest parts of the book, firstly, he buys her a coat, not the most romantic item, but I think it is, it’s not roses with a fleetingly short life span, or chocolates that go right to your hips, it’s a coat, a coat says I want to protect you and keep you warm, a coat simply says ‘I care about you’. Please excuse me while I swoon!
Also, he sends her books and not just any books, he sends her books on democracy at first, and then he sends her Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Truthfully, there are so many bits in this book that I found myself thinking of P&P and I love it, this bit with the book right after she gets ill which just screamed of Jane going to Netherfield Park in P&P, makes me think that these are not accidental.
And while, I am talking about books within a book, the description of the library, one of the libraries has the night sky painted on it! I was reading this book while curled up under a duvet with the night sky/celestial pattern on it. I love stars and night skies; I would have fallen in love with the Duke at this very moment. This reminded me somewhat of Beauty and The Beast, I loved Beauty and The Beast as a child and I still love it now, but, do I actually love it, or do I love the idea of someone giving me a library full of books?? Do we reckon that Belle actually fell in love with the library and then with The Beast??
Anyway, they know that what they feel for each other cannot be, he is a Duke and quite frankly she is a no one. A marriage between the two of them would be scandalous as he would be marrying far below his station and as such they are both likely to be shunned by society. I found this really interesting as I had never thought of this before, we always hear about the women marrying for position and wealth, but never really the men who must do the same. This brings us to the best but also the saddest section of the book, the longing, oh how the long and yearn for each other. It matters not that they cannot be together, they both continue to do right by each other, and he even warns her of trouble that he knows will occur when the Suffragists protest outside Parliament. When, she is later arrested who comes to the Prison for her. This is not the emotional reunion you expect where you think they are going to suddenly forget all the obstacles and fall into each other’s arms, in honestly, the coldness and detachment in this scene was heart breaking. I was honestly crying. When he finally asks her to marry him, its almost laughable, you want her to say yes but she knows there is no future for them, she wants one night that is all. He wants more. She knows her worth, being a rich man’s mistress is not and will never be enough or right for her.
I love it- I love how she kept going, she kept turning him down but at the same time she was always on his side.
This is old school romance for the modern woman, him the dashing duke who has learnt from his Fathers mistakes and repaired the family honour and fortune, who hides a good heart behind a stern and cold exterior- I mean come on, he is a Tory politician!!!!
She, she is no inexperienced young maid. She’s been around the block, literally and figuratively. She’s made mistakes and learnt from them, but she is still fighting for a better future for herself and does not wish to settle for what her life could be – an unpaid domestic drudge to her cousin.
I don’t want to spoil too much more for you, but it is historical fiction, there is of course a happy ending – and it’s a darn good one!
As soon as I finished this book I was onto Amazon to see when the next one is released. Thankfully, the second book, A Rogue of One’s Own will be released in September!
Have you read this book, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below, until next time.