I think by now we’ve established that I’m a huge fan of historical romance, particularly when it has a strong, capable, practical heroine and a hero with a dark past and brooding temperament who has no idea how hard he can fall in love… So A Duke Changes Everything was the perfect read for me, and I’m so happy to be bringing you my review as part of the blog tour today.
Book: A Duke Changes Everything by Christy Carlyle
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by Barclay Publicity for fair review – all opinions my own.
In the first novel in Christy Carlyle’s sizzling Duke’s Den series, three men, intent on making a fortune, discover irresistible opportunities . . .
Nicholas Lyon gambled his way into a fortune and ownership of the most opulent, notorious gentlemen’s club in England. But when Nick’s cruel brother dies, he inherits a title he never wanted. The sooner Nick is rid of the estate that has always haunted him, the sooner he can return to the life he’s built in London. But there’s one obstacle—the exquisite Thomasina Thorne.
When the new heir to the Tremayne dukedom suddenly appears in Mina Thorne’s life, she’s flustered. Not only is he breathtakingly handsome, but he’s also determined to take away her home and position as steward of the Enderley estate. If Mina learns what makes the enigmatic duke tick, perhaps she can change his mind—as long as she doesn’t get too close to him.
With each day Nick spends with Mina, his resolve weakens as their colliding wills lead to explosive desire. Could she be the one woman who can help him finally bury the ghosts of his past?
This is quite possibly my favourite historical romance that I have read – it’s competing for the top spot with Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, with which it shares a few elements. You have a morally grey hero with a dark past, a gambling club setting for some of the novel, and a heroine who is perfectly capable of organising her own life. That’s not to say that A Duke Changes Everything is in any way derivative or samey – just a note that I clearly like what I like, and I like this! Mina is a brilliant character with whom I couldn’t help but identify, and Nick’s vulnerability peeking through his steely exterior made him easy to love.
The romance in this book is so lovely and natural. Often with romance fiction, the characters behave without any heed for their own personalities and start kissing as soon as they feel the first spark of attraction! Here, though, both Nick and Mina have been extremely scarred by their pasts, and are determined to maintain a professional relationship to reach their goals (him, to leave as fast as possible; her, to make him face up to his responsibiilties), and we see their attraction blossom slowly and beautifully, until it’s all too much for them to deny. Their first kiss comes much later in the book than you might expect (and makes use of one of my favourite tropes: “a kiss because you almost died and I suddenly realised that was a bad thing”) and doesn’t lead to them jumping into bed together. It’s just wonderfully, realistically paced.
There are shades of Beauty and the Beast within the story, but I wouldn’t call this a retelling. Nick’s scarred face and body, and his temper, make him an ideal candidate for the Beast – and it’s true that although he isn’t trapped in his castle, Enderley is intrinsically a part of his soul that haunts him constantly. He’s deeply lonely, and views himself as a monster that no one could love. Mina’s determination, love of fairy tales, and practicality make her an excellent Beauty – I loved that she was never fazed by Nick’s appearance, but instead was focused on finding his heart to convince him to stay at the estate. The familiar fairytale elements work really well to create chemistry between the two characters, and I loved how present the Enderley estate was in the story. You really get a sense of all the characters, not just the main two, having lives before and after and outside of the story’s plot, which is tricky to do with something as formulaic as historical romance.
I love the double meaning of the title – not only does the arrival of the duke change everything for Mina, but also, the duke himself actively changes everything miserable about his life to find happiness. It’s nice to see the hero getting involved in his own happily-ever-after, rather than letting the heroine fix him! I really felt like I got to know these two characters as people, and I was genuinely happy for them when they managed to work out how to fit together. As Mrs Potts sings, “just a little change, small to say the least” is how Mina and Nick learn, bit by bit, to fall in love. They may be “both a little scared – neither one prepared”, but in the end, they chase away each others’ shadows and make themselves and their home as strong as possible. It’s hopeful and beautiful and a true love story. It’s wonderful.
Five out of five cats from me!
About the Author
Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.
You can also visit her online at the following places:
Barclay are hosting a giveaway to celebrate the launch of A Duke Changes Everything! Enter here for the chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card!