Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Duke's Disaster by Grace Burrowes

The Basics:
The Duke's Disaster by Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Historical Romance
Book 0.5 in the True Gentlemen series
Published April 7, 2015
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Why I picked up this book:

I've previously enjoyed reading Grace Burrowes as in her Christmas themed historical romance and a serene and satisfying contemporary romance.

Noah Winters, Earl of Anselm, spent months sorting and courting the year's crop of debutantes in search of an ideal bride. When the sweet, biddable young thing he selected accepts another's proposal, Noah decides to court her companion instead.  

Thea Collins, though, is anything but biddable. She has learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted, especially the handsome ones. When she reluctantly accepts, Noah rushes Thea to the altar before she can reveal her deepest secret. Can she finally move on from her past, or will it come back to haunt her? 


The Duke and Duchess are having a rocky start to their marriage, also to their day…

“Your tea, Duchess.”

Noah had woken up beside his wife—again, despite all plans to the contrary—creating another first for him. Thea had risen several times during the night to tend to herself. He hadn’t realized that monthly courses caused a woman’s rest to be interrupted.

Crashingly bad planning, for a lady’s sleep to be disturbed when she most needed rest.

“You’re not about to steal my tea?” Thea held out the cup, her gaze shy as she sat propped against the headboard.

“Where’s the fun in stealing what’s freely offered?” Noah settled in beside her and filched a bite of her cinnamon toast. “Would you rather have chocolate this morning?”


“You’re”— Noah waved a hand in the direction of her middle—“indisposed.”

“I am not indisposed.” Thea set her teacup down with a little clink. “The discomfort has passed, as it always does. You needn’t be concerned.”

“I am not concerned, Thea.” Not greatly concerned, now that she’d stopped ordering him to go away and was ready for a proper spat. “I am attempting in my bumbling way to dote. You will allow it.”

Drat. He’d given another order.

“You couldn’t bumble if one gave you written instructions, Anselm,” Thea said, looking a little less peaked for having run up her flags. “That was my toast you appropriated.”

“Appropriation is what happens when one’s wife can’t appreciate a little doting. You’re being stingy with the tea, just as you were stingy with the covers. How long does this indisposition last?” 

Her chin came up. “I am the Duchess of Anselm. I am not stingy with anything, but you are a very presuming husband.”

“Doting.” Noah took Thea’s free hand to kiss her knuckles— lest she mistake his point. “Also in need of my duchess’s guidance on this one marital matter.”
“This is so personal.” Thea’s gaze was on their joined hands— for Noah would not have her haring off in a fit of mortification. “I didn’t think you’d be a personal sort of husband. You were supposed to appear in my dressing-room doorway a few nights a month, silently take a few marital liberties, and then leave me in peace. We’d trade sections of the Times over breakfast the next morning.”

“Prosaic.” Boring and exactly what Noah himself had envisioned. “Hard to see any doting going on, though.”

“Husband?” Thea’s tone was hesitant. “Thank you, for keeping me company last night. I would not have known how to ask.”

“I suppose that’s the definition of doting.” Noah lingered at the cart to assemble a plate. “It’s the little things you can’t bring yourself to ask for, that an attentive spouse will enjoy providing to you. Bacon or ham?”

“A little of both, please.”

“Feeling carnivorous?”

“I’m a trifle indisposed. I need the sustenance.”

Noah piled both ham and bacon on Thea’s plate, and stole better than half of it, because he needed the sustenance too.

My Thoughts:

So I made the fatal reviewer error of reading the book and then coming back to write the review a few days later *without having taken notes.*

Yeah, keep laughing.

I ended up skimming some of the book to jog my memory, because unfortunately I didn't find The Duke's Disaster all that memorable. This was possibly because it was kind of what I'm going to call a 'cozy romance' - once in which the majority of the conflict was within the relationship rather than some outside force that threatened to keep them apart. Maybe it's more like an 'uncozy romance?'  

Thea and Noah's story starts out in a way that felt, for me, unconventional for historical romances, even though it's always presented as the norm in these books - they marry for practical reasons.

Now it turns out that Noah's a bit of an arse. While he's very loyal in some ways, and pretty concerned about others, when it comes to his wife, he seems to view her as a self-indulgence. When it turns out she's not exactly what he expected, he throws a bit of a temper tantrum, creating much of the relationship conflict in the book (particularly as he allows other problems to develop because he refuses to admit to and apologize for being an arse).

Much of the book is spent with these two trying to get to know each other (or not), and addressing some of the roadblocks that stand in the way of their marital happiness. 

I liked the way the story came together, ultimately, though I really wanted Noah to walk on hot coals and beg for forgiveness for his behaviour. My favourite scenes were the mornings they spent together, sharing breakfast, planning the day and bonding, basically. These moments felt realistic and were something that I could really relate to (though with two very young children, it's been ages since I remember kicking back and really enjoying a quiet breakfast!)

Bottom line:

I didn't find The Duke's Disaster to be especially memorable, but I did enjoy reading it. There's some humor here, there's a romance that has a lot of inner turmoil, and there's a Duke who should have had to work harder to make up for his shoddy behaviour.

4 stars
For fans of historical romance

But don't just take my word for it! I grabbed a few links to other blog reviews of The Duke's Disaster:

Wicked Lil Pixie

Books of Love

But wait! There's more!  The publisher has this awesome giveaway for you to get in on:

Rafflecopter giveaway

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