Historical Romance Book Review

If the Duke Demands

If the Duke DemandsTitle: If the Duke Demands
Author: Anna Harrington
Series: Capturing the Carlisles #1
Publisher: Forever
First Published: February 28, 2017
Pages: 368
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★


Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can't wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she's swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she's horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent-Robert's formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: He'll help her win his brother's heart if she'll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

My Review:

You ever read a book that you are initially dazzled by, and then slowly grow more disappointed until the end when the plot comes crashing down? Oh, how I loathed the way that this book ended. The book starts off good, and I mean really good. The two main characters are charming and seem to actually have some good chemistry. The physical tension between the two of them is hard to ignore and builds up at a steady rate throughout the novel. Sebastian was a total dreamboat and I was really digging the story up until the halfway point. So what went wrong?

It was a couple of things. The first thing that started to nag at me was how repetitive certain plot points started to get, namely Sebastian’s difficulties being chained to his position as duke and how burdened he was by it. The first couple of times it is mentioned was fine, but the monologues constantly remind you of it; Of course it was building up for the conflict later. I get the social hierarchy and familial duty thing, but deciding one person is not okay to marry but perfectly okay to fuck is not romantic or sexy. Then when things don’t go Sebastian’s way he pursues her for more sex, giving her false hope, and then treats her like an embarrassment and reasserts that he can’t marry her.

There is no coming back from that to me. I don’t care if characters realize the error of their ways and decide to change, it is toxic. The ending was predictable after that point. I already knew who would have to come and talk sense to Sebastian to make him feel better about everything. I knew that there would be a big apology and a happy ending. It is your typical rags to riches story where a common girl catches the attention of an aristocrat. It’s fine for these sorts of stories to be a little predictable, but it felt empty. If the utter selfishness of the dreamy duke wasn’t enough to cool down the heat, the epilogue stamped the remaining embers into ash. I’m sorry, but the name thing I just found a little bit uncomfortable and not very romantic.

Enough of my complaints though. Despite my difficulties with the second half of the novel, it still managed to keep my attention and I devoured the book quickly. Even during the frustrating parts, there were moments where I genuinely chuckled and the first half of the novel was a pleasure to read. The supporting cast was also quite good and I found that I really liked the Carlisles.

As to the question of the rest of the series, I am interested enough in the other two Carlisle brothers that I would definitely consider reading the other books. The first was a swing and a miss for me, but I am optimistic that the other two could be better.

“She buried her face against his shoulder to hide from him, afraid he would see the truth in her…that she loved him, despite knowing that he would never love her in return.”

Trigger Warning: Sex

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.

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