Saturday, October 13, 2012

Week-End's Minis XXVIII: Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle

Along Came a Duke by Elizabeth Boyle
published by Harpercollins Publisher (Avon) in May 2012
"A young lady with a fortune is subject to all sorts of untoward attentions by the worst sort of vagrants." Aunt Allegra

A lesson Tabitha Timmons, a penniless spinster, has never needed to heed. That is, until she is left a vast fortune payable only upon her marriage to the very respectable Mr. Barkworth--a match that offers little chance of discovering exactly what her aunt means by "untoward attentions."

But the same can't be said when the Duke of Preston happens along Tabitha's path. He spies a rebellious streak in her that matches his own and he makes it his mission to save her from such a passionless match, interfering in her life at every turn. All too soon, Preston--whose very name spells ruin--has Tabitha caught between the good fortune that guarantees her security, and his kiss, which promises an entirely different kind of happily-ever-after.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Rhymes with Love, Book #1

What do you need to know? Tabitha Timmons lives in the village of Kempton, which seems to harbor an unusually high number of spinsters. It seems young men have a tendency to leave the village and not return... Tabitha's father was the vicar and after his death, his brother took over his position, He and his wife were not keen on keeping Tabitha, but they did not have a choice and they quickly realize how useful she can be in helping out with the house chores. As for Tabitha, despite her friends' invitations to move, she stays on because it is home. She has also come to term that she will not marry and all right with the situation as she tells Preston, Lord Roxley's friend, who believes every woman is out to entrap men in marriage. However, Tabitha's future changes when she inherits a fortune from her maternal uncle... but this fortune also comes at a cost: marriage to the very respectable Mr. Backworth, heir of a marquess. Quickly, Tabitha is whisked to London to be introduced... but everywhere she turns, there is Preston.

Everywhere the Duke of Preston goes, he lives scandals in his wake. His latest frasque has left him almost persona non grata to most social events. His uncle and aunt have issued an ultimatum: Preston is to marry and become respectable or else, they'll move out. Having no choice, Preston is ready to court the girls on his aunt's list... but Tabitha is the one he cannot forget. Can his reputation withstand another scandal... one that will lead to happiness?

Why this book? Ms Boyle's books are usually miss and hit for me... and lately, they've been more on the miss side. I wasn't going to pick up Along Came a Duke; however, this is quite a striking cover and I've been reading good reviews for the book, so I changed my mind.

What did I like? I thought Along Came a Duke had a lot of potential. When I first started this book, I was hooked as the first few chapters were very strong in my opinion. However, I had to take a break reading this book because of the New York trip and then, books that I wanted to read more than this one... and when I picked Along Came a Duke again, I really had a lot of difficulty getting back into the story. Even now, I don't really know if this was due to the story or me... All I know is that once I picked up the book again, I just wasn't as hooked and that's really unfortunate :(

Here are the reasons why I thought Along Came a Duke had so much potential. First, I loved the fluffy and light tone of the book. It was fun and fit perfectly the setting of the book. I loved Preston's relationship with his uncle and aunt - Henry and Hen, short for Henrietta - who are twins and only 6 months older than Preston. LOL, I can totally see the bond between them and I thought this situation was quite unique. I actually wished I've seen more of their interactions. Yes, Henry and Hen are exasperated at Preston's antics, but you can see they still care about him. Preston's background was also very interesting and I wished Ms Boyle had elaborated more on it. I wished we've known how good a parent Preston's grandfather was. At least, what we were given gave really good insight into Preston's personality and why Henry and Hen's ultimatum was so grave for the duke.

I also enjoyed Preston's friendship with Lord Roxley and the friendship between Tabitha and  her two best friends, Daphne and Harriett aka Harry. It's clear that Daphne and Harriett are going to be the future heroines of this series and I enjoyed what I read of them. Especially Harry :) She was a lot of fun and I just can't wait to read her story.

Overall, I thought Ms Boyle did a great job with the setting and the characters. Where I had issues was which turns the story took.

What did not work for me? I guess if I had to sum it up, it would be the romance ^_^; I liked the characters and I actually thought Preston and Tabitha had chemistry together... but the way their romance unfolded, it was simply frustrating. I liked the fact that it took so long for Tabitha to figure out that Preston was a duke LOL. What I did not like is how she stringed him along. I know she was not convinced of his character, she thought he was lazy and so on, but she was still attracted to him and I think it would have been good if she had been honest from the start. The two of them seemed to play a game, dancing around each other... but that game just wasn't good ^_^; I hated how Preston had such a bad reputation and that most of it was unwarranted :( That definitively did not helped. I also thought Daphne was a bit annoying, giving advice to Tabitha when she herself didn't get it. Finally, I felt that throughout too much of the book, Tabitha was a bit of a doormat, letting everyone lead her, listening to their opinions and advice. I mean, she just became an heiress, wouldn't it be time for her to stand up to her family and say what she wants? Time to really take the reins of her life instead of following the flow. That part was frustrating given Tabitha actually had a strong personality, ideas of her own, which is what Preston was attracted to. But that part of her personality didn't shine with the others and that's how she found herself in such a mess :( And that's why I found the romance lacking.

My Grade? C. I do believe that Along Came a Duke would have gotten a higher grade if I've read this book without taking that long break... unfortunately, I didn't. Overall, the book was enjoyable, but didn't measure up to the expectations I had based on the strong opening. The good news is that I did like the characters and they had me hooked and so, I am most likely to pick up the next book in the series :)