ARC Review – ‘A Devil of a Duke’ by Madeline Hunter

Title: A Devil of a Duke
Author: Madeline Hunter
Genre:  Romance, Historical
Date of Publication: 24th April, 2018
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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HE MAY BE A DEVIL

He’s infamous, debaucherous, and known all over town for his complete disregard for scandal, and positively irresistible seductions. Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, is obscenely wealthy, jaw-droppingly handsome, and used to getting exactly what he wants. Until his attention is utterly captured by a woman who refuses to tell him her name, but can’t help surrendering to his touch . . .

BUT SHE’S NO ANGEL EITHER . . .

Amanda Waverly is living two lives—one respectable existence as secretary to an upstanding lady, and one far more dangerous battle of wits—and willpower—with the devilish Duke. Langford may be the most tempting man she’s ever met, but Amanda’s got her hands full trying to escape the world of high-society crime into which she was born. And if he figures out who she really is, their sizzling passion will suddenly boil over into a much higher stakes affair . . .

This is a difficult review to write for me because my feelings towards the book are very tepid; it was a so-so read for me. If something is 1 or 2 stars, I have passionate dislike for it and usually many things to rant about; if something is 4 or 5 stars, I can write essays rhapsodizing over my love for it. But I found A Devil of a Duke to be firmly middle-of-the-road.

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I will say that the author’s writing is technically well done and the story flows smoothly, I can visualize the events quite clearly. The central mystery was not wholly engaging, but I did skim through the second half primarily to see how this was resolved. However, even that is half-hearted praise; I wanted to see how it ended, but I wasn’t interested enough to read the story properly and skipped large chunks along the way to the ending.

For me, the main failing was with the lead characters because I didn’t develop any affection for them, I didn’t feel any chemistry between them so I wasn’t rooting for their happily-ever-after, and due to this lack of engagement, reading the story was a bit of a slog. I liked the idea of the cat burglar heroine, that was a unique concept I haven’t come across before, but Amanda frustrated me because she was ruled by her hormones. She went to great lengths to make Gabriel give his word as a gentleman that he wouldn’t sleep with her, and it was all because she was so swoony over him that she didn’t trust herself not to fall at his feet. I mean, the stakes are really high here, it’s only her mother’s life at stake, but she’s so hot & bothered by Gabriel that her loins overrule her head, okay then.

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As for Gabriel, I did appreciate that he did hold his honor in high regard and that even when he had a willing woman in his arms practically begging him to do the deed, he still refrained from fully sealing the deal as she had requested previously. But on the other hand, it was a bad look that she constantly told him she wanted nothing to do with him, and he kept forcing his presence on her and manipulating the situation to ensure that she had no choice but to meet with him.

The funny thing is that the friendships in this book were more realistic and believable than the romance. I could see glimpses of Gabriel’s growing feelings for Amanda, although it did seem to be primarily lust for her and the thrill of the chase, but I’m not convinced at all that she developed affection for him, let alone fell in love. In contrast, the bromance between Gabriel and his fellow Decadent Dukes was fun and witty and solid, and I also liked the fellowship of ladies that reached out to include Amanda and to try and protect and nurture her. But unfortunately, while a perk, that’s not what I pick up a romance novel for, so this was a bit of a bust.

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Personal Rating: 3 out of 5 kitties approve this book.

3cats

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy free from Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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