Saturday, December 01, 2012

Week-End's Minis XXXIII: When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen

When you Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen
published by Sourcebooks in September 2012
He had a perfectly orderly life...

William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that's the way he likes it. But he's in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn't begin to describe what happens next...

Until she came along...

Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It's disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William's darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide...
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Jewels of the Ton, Book #1

What do you need to know? As you'll quickly find out, Juliette aka the Duchess of Dalliance is not really a courtesan. She goes along with it though because she needs a protector, an income of money... and that's why her reputation and what other people think of her and her friends is so important. So when the Duke of Pelham gives her the cut, in public, it could have disastrous impact on her livelihood. Then, things get worst when Juliette witnesses the Duke of Pelham's fiancée's murder and is later threatened in her home. Taking refuge with the Duke of Pelham seems to be a good idea...

At first, what the Duchess of Dalliance says about his fiancée seems ludicrous - her death and possible involvement with Lucifer, the owner of a gaming hall... but when she disappears and then, a footman in his household is attacked, the Duke of Pelham starts to wonder. He decides that retiring to the country is  the safest measure... which means he'll be traveling and spending time with Juliette. Someone he shouldn't be associating with... but somehow can't seem to help himself to.

Why this book? I'm not a huge fan of courtesan heroines - yes, I know, I'm picky - but disregarded this pet peeve because When You Give a Duke a Diamond seemed to be a "happy-go-lucky heroine thawing out a stuffy hero" trope and I love those :)

My thoughts? I'm going to be honest and admit that I don't remember much of When you Give a Diamond a Duke ^_^; So let say that this book hasn't impacted me much. However, I do have some notes, so I can write this review. Still, given the circumstances, I've decided to skip the "What I liked?" and "What did not work for me?" questions... Hmmm, perhaps I should have chosen another book for this mini-review, but it's too late ^_^;

This was my first book by Ms Galen and I enjoyed the writing. I also liked Juliette and William, the Duke of Pelham, and their respective background stories were interesting. I enjoyed their interactions because William was so proper and Juliette was trying to provoke him, draw him out of his shell. However, I expected more of their interactions, I wanted to see William enjoy life more, to thaw a lot more. Seeing Will accepts being called Will and breaking his punctuality wasn't enough in my opinion. So in that regard, I thought the book was disappointing.

What surprised me in When You Give a Duke a Diamond was the intrigue. There's not hint of it in the blurb and so, I wasn't expecting it. The start of it was really strong in my opinion and therefore, it had potential. I mean, the hero's fiancée not only has a clandestine relationship with someone she shouldn't, but also is addicted to gambling and has built up quite a debt. And then, she still something from the person she owns, resulting in her death. As I said, lots of potential here! The problem is that Ms Galen doesn't follow up on it. It took too much time for the duke to believe Juliette and his accusations were annoying and distasteful.  Then afterwards, when William finally believes that Juliette is in danger, they run away to hide in the country and little is done about the intrigue. Granted, William leaves the whole thing in the hands of constables which is the sensible thing and they had a good lead of who did it, but then, that means the whole intrigue was simply a huge plot device to force William and Juliette to spend time together: too obvious. In addition, the intrigue is not even resolved satisfactorily at the end, leaving it open for the next book. So it just didn't work for me.

One highlight of this book for me was Warrick Fitzhugh, a secondary character and friend of William. He is most probably going to be the next hero of the book. I liked and enjoyed his character and I think brought something to the story, without too much sequel baiting. Speaking of secondary characters, there was also Juliette's two friends, the other "Jewels of the Ton," Fallon the Marchioness of Mystery and Lily the Countess of Charm. The ladies were fine, except that none of them were real courtesans. As I said, I'm not a fan of courtesan characters, so in a way, it works out for me... but at the same time, I can't help but wonder why not? Why have them known as courtesans and end up being so chaste? This is fiction after all, so is it because it's more romantic that way? Also, in theory, the sobriquets are cute and witty, but in reality, I don't know, they feel overboard. What with the "Three Diamonds" and the "Diamonds in the Rough"... Just too much, no?

My Grade? C-. I originally gave this book a C+, but I had to lower the grade given I don't remember much of the storyline after two months which means it hasn't left a deep impression... and also, what I remember from it is mostly my issues with the book. At this point, I don't think I'll be reading the next book.