Historical Romance Book Reviews

If the Duke Demands

Oh how I wanted to rate this so much higher, but I just couldn’t after the way that it ended. The book starts off good, and I mean really good. The two main characters are charming and seem to actually have some good chemistry. The physical tension between the two of them is hard to ignore and builds up at a steady rate throughout the novel. Sebastian was a total dreamboat and I was really digging the story up until the halfway point. What went wrong?

It was a couple of things. The first thing that started to nag at me was how repetitive certain plot points started to get, namely Sebastian’s difficulties being chained to his position as duke and how burdened he was by it. The first couple of times it is mentioned was fine, but the monologues constantly remind you of it. At first I thought this was just an amateurish way of trying to build plot, until later I realized the reason why I was getting it drilled into my head. It was so I could feel pity for our darling duke as he utterly destroys the heroine and drags her emotionally through the dirt.

What bothered me about the conflict surrounding Sebastian’s perceived duty to his family and the issue of rank is how insulting it all is to Miranda. I get the social hierarchy issue, but once one party decides that the other is not good enough for a relationship, but is still perfectly fine using that other person to fuck, well.. That’s just a major buzz kill to me. It’s a respect thing, and to me he was using her. Which is also where the repetitiveness of the storytelling really started to get grating. One night of using someone and telling them how they can never be more wasn’t enough, Sebastian follows Miranda around in public and pushes her into another night of passionate sex only to reiterate over and over again how she isn’t good enough to marry. Once his bad behavior became public knowledge, he treats her like an embarrassment. This killed it for me.

“She buried her face against his shoulder to hide from him, afraid he would see the truth in her…that she loved him, despite knowing that he would never love her in return.”

The ending was predictable after that point. I already knew who would have to come and talk sense into Sebastian to make him feel better about everything. I knew that there would be a big apology and a happy ending. It is your typical Cinderella story where a common girl catches the attention of an aristocrat. It’s fine for these sorts of stories to be a little predictable, but it ended up feeling kind of empty to me. If the utter selfishness of the dreamy duke wasn’t enough to cool down the heat, the epilogue stamped the remaining embers into ash. I’m sorry, but the name thing I just found a little bit uncomfortable and not very romantic.

Enough of my complaints though. Despite my difficulties with the second half of the novel, it still managed to keep my attention and I devoured the book quickly. Even during the frustrating parts there were moments where I genuinely chuckled and the first half of the novel was a pleasure to read. The supporting cast was also quite good and found that I really liked the Carlisles.

As to the question of the rest of the series, I am interested enough in the other two Carlisle brothers that I would definitely consider reading the other books when they are eventually released. The first was a swing and a miss for me, but I am optimistic that the other two could be better.

Title: If the Duke Demands
Series: Capturing the Carlisles #1
Author: Anna Harrington
Publisher: Forever
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: ARC / Ebook
Source: NetGalley

Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can’t wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she’s swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she’s horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent-Robert’s formidable older brother.

Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: He’ll help her win his brother’s heart if she’ll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

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