I don’t know if I’m getting a little burned out on romance, or if this book just wasn’t for me, but I found this second-chance historical romance perfectly sweet but a little uninspiring…
Book: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake
Read before? No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by NetGalley for fair review. All opinions my own.
First things first, I think I should say that there’s nothing objectively wrong with this book. It’s a light-hearted, sweet romance between two former childhood sweethearts who, due to someone’s meddling, each thought the other had jilted them. It’s fluffy, but I found it unfulfilling.
I think perhaps I just didn’t love either of the main characters, or really see much chemistry between them. Abby is a people-pleaser who has great difficulty standing up for herself, which is a personality type that I find extremely annoying in real life, let alone as a heroine. Max is aloof, and to be honest, not that nice to Abby – plus, he spends the whole book stringing along another woman who he had seduced and brought to his house for a tryst… and then sort of just failed to do anything with. He just keeps her hanging about with no closure, which is kind of dickish. Also, I found the ‘mousy brunette heroine is an intelligent good person where as busty blonde rival is a vapid sexpot’ thing to be deeply outdated and gross.
The pacing is a little slower than I would have liked, and I found a fair bit of the plot quite repetitive. Really, once Abby and Max had realised that their letters had gone astray, they probably should have just talked and admitted they had feelings for one another, not spent the middle two thirds of the book dithering in case the other’s feelings had changed… This could have been a very cute novella, but as it stands, I found it dragged.
That is not to say I think that this is a bad book – I just think it hit some tropes that for me, aren’t my favourites. As a sweet romance read, this is perfectly fine. And it has some great kittens in it. So it’ll get three out of five cats from me, but I think others might like it more!