Sunday, December 27, 2020

Review: The Truth About Dukes by Grace Burrowes

The Truth About Dukes by Grace Burrowes
Series: Rogues to Riches, Book 5
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance 
The Truth About Dukes cover
ISBN: 9781538700334
Source: Publisher
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Robert Rothmere is hiding a past no duke should have endured, but he's not hiding it well enough. Sooner or later, his enemies will learn that he spent years locked away at a private asylum. To get their hands on his wealth, they'll try to send him right back to his worst nightmares. If Robert is to foil their schemes, he needs to marry a perfectly proper, blessedly boring, deadly dull duchess, immediately – and he knows exactly which quietly delightful lady he'd love to entrust with that role.

Lady Constance Wentworth has cultivated a reputation for utter forgettability. She never speaks out of turn (in public), never has a daring thought (that she admits aloud), and never comes close to courting scandal . . . as far as anybody knows. Her path crossed Robert's years ago, though, and she's never forgotten the extraordinary lengths he traveled to keep her safe when she hadn't a friend in the world. She longs to be his demure duchess…but little does he know that to marry her would be utter madness.

The intriguing, complicated, gorgeously written Wentworth family is back in The Truth About Dukes. Every Grace Burrowes protagonist I’ve read about so far has had a complex past, which is something I quite enjoy. In Robert’s case, he’s an epileptic who was caged in a private asylum by his father. The horrors of that place and the experiments inflicted on him have left their mark and even after his brother (who had believed him dead) found him, Robert locked himself away in their home. He’s slowly coming out into the world, but there are those who would use him being an epileptic against him in order to further their own agendas. I liked watching Robert come into his own over the course of the story. He’s helped by Constance who is definitely his perfect match.

Constance Wentworth grew up in poverty with an abusive father. Her brother becoming first a successful, wealthy banker and then finding out he’s a duke changed her life forever. Constance has secrets she keeps even from her own family. When she was younger she fled home and came to work at the asylum Robert was kept at. The two formed a bond back then and it springs immediately to life when they are reunited over a decade later. I loved Robert and Constance together. They have an easy chemistry that shows on the page and they simply flow as a couple. Their romance is understated – perhaps a bit too understated for a romance novel – and I wish Burrowes had shown rather than told some of the bits about their bond forming in the past. Yet even with it being understated I simply adored Robert and Constance as a couple. There’s little drama and a lot of heart which makes it easy to fall into their story.

Constance and Robert are at the center of The Truth About Dukes, but there are plenty of supporting characters with their own points of view. Their siblings all see fit to discuss among themselves and interfere (with the best of intentions, of course) in Robert and Constance’s lives. Then there are multiple plots. One I cannot reveal without spoiling the story as it deals with Constance’s past. Not to be too vague, but this was a plotline that started out well, then ended up feeling like it wasn’t as well executed as it could have been. Then there’s the matter of villains using Robert’s epilepsy against him for their own reasons. It’s a plotline with potential but falls apart a bit at the climax. There are a few too many lucky breaks, characters changing how they act to satisfy the needs of the plot, and events taking place off-page for me to be fully satisfied with the story. Still, I really enjoyed reading The Truth About Dukes even with these flaws. I wavered for a long time on how to rate the book because I had so many niggling issues but I weighed this against how much I enjoyed Burrowes’s writing, the characters, and the Constance/Robert pairing. I land on the side of recommending this book, but if you’re new to the series I urge you to read the first and fourth Rogues to Riches books, My One and Only Duke and A Duke by Any Other Name, in order to fully appreciate the family dynamics and the main plot of The Truth About Dukes.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.