I was alerted to this new series via Facebook. I follow Julia Quinn, who is also published by Avon, and she mentioned the series receiving starred reviews – a very rare thing for a mass-market title, let alone a genre title, lest still for historical romance.
Welcome to Regency London, a popular time and setting for historical romance, with all its aristocratic excesses.
It comes to a head when six dukes, the Prince Regent, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, gather together to celebrate the Duke of Candover’s last night as a bachelor. Unfortunately, a surfeit of absinthe leads to scandal – and no wedding, as the groom and his party fail to turn up for the ceremony.
The news explodes through the broadsheets and the public clamour for redress and punishment. This reaction is entirely believable, as the Prince Regent was often attacked in the media due to his excessive spending. It was a period of increasing social unrest, and division between the social classes.
This is the first novel of the series – which earned a starred review from Booklist.
In order to appear to be doing something, the Prince Regent chooses Alex, the Duke of Kress, as his first scapegoat (well, it was his valet who supplied the absinthe from his cellars). Banished to Cornwall, Alex is tasked with refortifying St Michael’s Mount, and marrying from a list of potential brides, supplied by the Prince, within a month.
Upon arriving in Cornwall, Alex finds Roxanne, Countess of Paxton, clinging for life halfway down a cliff, left to die by her husband.
From such an unusual meeting, the course of love between the two would never by typical. Add in a house party of dukes, eligible ladies, eccentric family members and staff – and a murdering husband lurking around – and you get a witty, unpredictable, and entirely original read.
I, for one, am hanging out for the rest of the series – the second is The Art of Duke Hunting, featuring the missing Duke of Norwich (this novel earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly) – what did happen to Norwich? Will Isabelle win her duke? Will the Prince’s hair grow back?
~ Reviewed by Aud Selene.