Title: Last Night with the Duke
Author: Amelia Grey
Series: Rakes of St. James #1
Genre: Regency Romance
Available: 7th March
Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all?
The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind–until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.
Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride?
Source: ARC from St Martin’s Press via NetGalley
Despite finding Amelia Grey’s last series fairly underwhelming, I enjoyed the first book so I thought I’d give this one a try. Even if this author needs to step away from the dukes. Seriously, it’s becoming worrying now. Out of five books I’ve read by her, three had dukes – with two more to obviously to come – and the other two heroes were earls. There are other titles, you know! Anyway, I wanted to give this series a chance, but, well, I’m regretting that now.
If you like exceedingly slow moving merry-go-rounds, then you might well enjoy this book, because wow, does it take a long time to get anywhere, and even when we get there, we spend most of the time rehashing earlier conversations. Over and over again. From different angles. With different people. Esmeralda doesn’t even meet Griffin’s sisters until almost halfway. Most of the first half is taken up with one conversation in which Griffin offers Esmeralda the role of chaperone, she refuses, he insists, she still refuses, he insists some more, she says no, he pushes, she lines up a load of demands, he agrees, she still resists, he pushes some more, she agrees. Then they talk about it to some other people.
Then the second half is a few parties, plenty of bratty behaviour from the twins and Esmeralda’s little sister, lots of space invasions from Griffin and… nothing much else. Until the very end, when suddenly something happens, something else happens and something else occurs off page and The End!
I might not have been bothered by this slow plot and lack of action if only I could have liked the characters. But despite an interesting beginning, Esmeralda turns into wallpaper. She really doesn’t do anything except stand around and think of her meetings with Griffin and her mother’s terribly scandalous decisions. Griffin is just as bad, wandering around ineffectively seeking the men who might hurt his sisters. (You’re a duke – hire someone! And do some work on your estates or in parliament while you’re at it, you wastrel.) Other than that, they have nothing going for them except instalust that really has no basis for anything deeper.
Then there are the details. Firstly, I think it should be St. James’s, if we’re talking about the famous street in London. Secondly, there’s a taproom and a barman at White’s? (I could be wrong on this, but I’m fairly sure it doesn’t have a pub. I’ve looked at early floor plans and can’t find it anyway.) Thirdly, the frequent use of “…, right?” at the end of sentences. And, finally, incorrect use of titles! The youngest son of an earl isn’t Lord anyone, let alone Lord Henry, and a Sir Somebody is a baronet not a baron! These are just the things that stick most clearly in my mind, and left me grumbling the most.
So overall this was an underwhelming read. I made it to the end without too much effort, but although the last few chapters picked up, it wasn’t enough to save the rest. Throw in the bits that annoyed me and sorry, but I think this series – and author – is no longer for me.
Last Night with the Duke is out March 7th.
Visit Amelia Grey for more details.