Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for this sweet second chance historical romance!
Book: Winning Back His Duchess by Amanda McCabe
Publication date: 31st March 2022
Ownership: EARC provided free of charge by Rachel’s Random Resources. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: miscarriage (before story starts, but remembered in some detail on page and an important part of the plot) and grief; death of a parent; previous alcohol abuse mentioned.
An invitation to Venice…
To save their marriage!
Suggesting divorce to her estranged husband Jamie, Duke of Byson, takes all Rose Wilkins’s courage. Years of distance and heartbreak have taken a toll—she needs a new start. But Jamie won’t hear of divorce, for the scandal alone. His counter-offer: a trip to Venice. Might discovering Venice’s delights together rekindle the still-simmering desire that drew Rose to Jamie as a starry-eyed young American heiress?
This is a fairly gentle romance, focused more on the emotional journeys of the leads than on any particularly dramatic plot, and despite the difficult subject matter – Rose’s miscarriage, Jamie’s alcoholism – the book as a whole is fairly light and simple. Rose and Jamie were once the perfect couple, but they’ve become estranged due to a breakdown in communication between them, so all that they really need to get back on track is to open up to each other and rediscover how much they enjoy each others’ company – easier said than done, but with both parties secretly wanting to reconcile, there’s only really the journey of how they get there, rather than worrying about whether they’ll make it. It made for a very quick, very sweet read!
I really enjoyed the Venetian setting – I’ve visited Venice a couple of times and it’s a beautiful place, perfect for the kinds of romantic gondola rides and city strolls that allow Jamie and Rose to get to know each other once again. I can only imagine how lovely it must have been to stay in a grand old palazzo and attend balls and parties in the beautiful old buildings! Things always seem a little brighter on holiday, and I liked how the two of them getting away from the everyday boredom of their lives reminded them of how much fun they could have together. That’s not to say that the story hinges on them throwing off their responsibilities totally – in fact, both of them seem to mature a lot over the course of the book, deciding to take control of their lives rather than simply drift along in the patterns they’ve become stuck in. It’s a rewarding journey that takes determination over dramatic changes.
Although the viewpoint does switch back and forth between the two leads as is common in historical romance, we spent much more time in Rose’s head than Jamie’s, and so I feel like I got to know her better than Jamie, who remained a little opaque to me. I didn’t regret the extra time with Rose, though. What particularly struck me was the very believable depiction of Rose’s insecurity; she’s a celebrated beauty, but she’s constantly holding herself up against her image of a ‘proper’ duchess or a ‘good’ wife, not helped by her having two vivacious and charming sisters who are also duchesses and who have multiple children. I really felt for her as she wrestled with her love for her family, but also was unconsciously hurt by their seemingly easy lives. I’d be interested to go back to the sisters’ books and see their internal journeys, too, as Rose’s opinion of them is obviously very biased!
Overall, this is a very sweet story about two people who just needed to be reminded they were allowed to be happy; it’s not the deepest book in the world, but it’s a cute second chance story that does exactly what it needs to. Perfect for those who like their historical romance more focused on emotion than action, or those who are looking for a sweet summer holiday read. Three and a half out of five cats!