Friday, July 21, 2023

Review: Not That Duke by Eloisa James

Not That Duke by Eloisa James
Series: Would-Be Wallflowers, Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical Romance 
Not That Duke cover
ISBN: 9780063139626
Release Date: July 25, 2023
Source: Publisher
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Eloisa James Reading Order

Bespeckled and freckled, Lady Stella Corsham at least has a dowry that has attracted a crowd of fortune-hunting suitors—which definitely doesn’t include the sinfully handsome Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, who laughingly calls her “Specs” as he chases after elegant rivals.

And then—

The worst happens. Marriage.

To the duke. To a man marrying her for all the wrong reasons.

How can Silvester possibly convince Stella that he’s fallen in love with the quirky woman he married?

I’m a big fan of golden boy members of the ton falling for wallflowers so it was with great eagerness that I dove into Not That Duke. I really liked Silvester in Eloisa James’s previous Would-Be Wallflowers novel, The Reluctant Countess, so I was excited to see him fall in love.

And he did. With someone other than the heroine. I admit I’m not the biggest fan of a hero or heroine thinking they’re in love with another so spending the first half of the book watching Silvester chasing Yasmin (of The Reluctant Countess) wasn’t my favorite thing. Silvester, who was so charming in that book, was charming because he adored the heroine. When it came to Stella, he was lustful but didn’t impress me much. If it weren’t for her inconvenient attraction to him, I don’t think Stella would have been overly impressed with the duke either. Short, bespeckled, freckled, and unfashionable, Stella isn’t a dazzling diamond of the first water. However, she is a heroine I really liked. She’s funny, smart, and kind and I wanted to see her get a happily ever after where she was someone’s first choice. Stella isn’t Silvester’s first choice but she is the right choice and about halfway through Not That Duke picks up. Stella and Silvester have chemistry, but the duke has a lot to learn if he’s going to be the hero Stella deserves.

Because of Silvester I wasn’t wowed by the romance, but there are a host of secondary characters who did make this book enjoyable. Silvester’s mother, an original in her own right, is charming and eccentric. She appreciates Stella’s brain and personality from the start and the two of them made a fun duo. There are also appearances by Merry (of My American Duchess) and a surprising turn of a mean girl who evolves into someone I’d actually like to read a book about. And it would be remiss of me to not talk about Specs, Stella’s adorable kitten who is a scene-stealer.

Not That Duke is the third book in James’s Would-Be Wallflower series and unless you really don’t mind spoilers I would recommend reading The Reluctant Countess first. The first half of this book runs concurrent to the other and I don’t think it benefits from it. If you (like me) hated all the page time given to the villainous Lydia, well then brace yourselves because she’s back and as irritating as ever.

I had mixed feelings about Not That Duke but James’s writing was entertaining and Stella and Silvester had good chemistry (when the latter managed to pull his head out of his you-know-what). The supporting characters were engaging and I liked where everything ended up. I’m a longtime fan of Eloisa James so even with the aforementioned mixed feelings I’m still very much looking forward to her next book.

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.