What I read this week:
Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
December 18, 2018 by Forever
“They might have been lovers. Or enemies about to
kill each other.”
It must be ridiculously hard to end a long running, much beloved series. Elizabeth Hoyt ended her Maiden Lane series with the release of the last full length novel, The Duke of Desire, in October of last year. There were a couple of novellas released in November and December of 2017, but all the main storylines wrapped up with the release of Iris and Raphael’s book.
Not the Duke’s Darling is Ms. Hoyt’s first book in her new Greycourt series, featuring a all new cast of characters with a lot of history between them. Freya de Moray, our heroine, is in London under an assumed name, working as a companion to two young ladies of the ton. She is also there in her role as a Wise Woman. I would like to give a rundown of what exactly a Wise Woman is, but honestly, I can’t. I think it has something to do with helping women in need and furthering woman’s rights. But there is probably a lot more to it than that. Anyway, readers are introduced to her as she’s on the run, evading several bad guys and trying to keep an infant aristocrat out of the hands of his dastardly uncle. Which is how we meet our hero….
Christopher Renshaw, The Duke of Harlowe, doesn’t recognize the woman who jumps in his carriage with an infant and a nurse as the younger sister of one of his closest childhood friends. It’s not until much later, after they’ve verbally (and quite literally) sparred at a country house party that he realizes who she really is. He is there to meet up with a man who is blackmailing him, she is there to find out what happened to a local woman and hopefully find a way to stop legislation that would harm the Wise Women. They have a ton of history between them. Their families, along with the Greycourts, were once the closest of friends… until one terrible night which left Aurelia Greycourt dead and Freya’s brother Ranulf, heir to the Duke of Ayr, maimed and in mourning.
If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is. There is what seems like a million plot threads and side stories going on in this book. Secret societies, blackmail, family tragedies, the mysterious death of a friend and neighbor, PTSD, witchcraft legislation (which must be stopped), and last but not least, a romance. I mean WHEW. At one point there is even a third POV, and I did wonder if I would be able to keep up with everything.
I didn’t love the romance between Christopher and Freya, but I didn’t hate it either. Maybe with everything going on I didn’t fall into the romance like I usually do with this author’s stories. The chemistry between this couple didn’t really develop until well into the second half and even then it was just so-so for me. Freya is a strong willed, intelligent heroine who starts out hell bent on revenge against Christopher for what she views as his sins against her brother, but slowly softens towards him. Christopher is okay as a hero, he is honest about what he views as his mistakes and failings, and seems like an honorable, good guy. I just, for some reason, had trouble really getting on board with them as a couple.
All that being said, I’m interested in finding out more about these characters and what really happened the night Aurelia died and Ran lost his hand. I adore this author and am looking forward to seeing how the develops this series in the future.
Final Grade: C+GR * AMZ * BN * K * GP