Blame It on the Duke, Historical Romance by Lenora Bell
Series: The Disgraceful Dukes #3
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Even though it might seem like not a lot happens in this book, it’s got a decent amount of the crazy sauce that I expect when reading this series. I definitely felt like it had toned down, but that’s a good thing.
Nick Hatherly is similar to other heroes I’ve seen who fear the onset of hereditary madness, but he brings a sort of mellow nature to the table that I have not see much in any aristocratic heroes. He takes refuge in hedonism, but he also takes good care of his father and accommodates him as he needs. Even when his father gambles him away to Sir Alfred Tombs.
Alice continues her marriage-avoiding antics. They’re more impressive than funny, which I appreciated. Too much more of that joke would have been labouring it and not as effective. Her reason is elaborated upon in this book, where she explains that she doesn’t just want adventure, she wants specifically to go to India and share with the scholars there her translation of a missing fragment of the Kama Sutra. She intended to go with her brother Fred and submit the work under his name, all too aware of her place as an unmarried woman.
The two quickly realise that they both have plenty to gain from a marriage of convenience (and unfortunate betting) and agree to a rather odd arrangement. Alice’s interest in sex is kindled by her translation work, and she wants Nick to school her. After they talk quite a bit (and wonderfully frankly) he develops a crush on her and also likes the idea of a wife who will bugger off to India and adventure after the honeymoon period.
Everything that happens is a leisurely slow burn, there to be appreciated rather than feverishly recounted. One of the most interesting subplots is that Nick rescues people imprisoned in asylums. His servants were rescued, but because there is not a stable female presence in his home, he can’t generally save women. With a new wife, he does save a woman named Jane, who is set up rather promisingly for a fourth book. (fingers crossed)
The romance benefits from the easy pace, and is both sweet and gratifying. There’s plenty of drama to be had in the subplots, but the romance only needs the expected internal conflict. As usual, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone their differing opinions, but I feel like this is a nice, uncomplicated read that acts as a great palate cleanser for someone who’s been reading harsh, problematic, or otherwise fatiguing books.