Review: A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley

Posted July 28, 2020 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 30 Comments

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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
two-half-flames


Series: Rogues and Remarkable Women #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Zebra Books
Released on June 20, 2020
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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The Delight

Once a West Indian heiress lively and happy in her Caribbean home, now a widowed, penniless and desperate woman fighting to keep her own child and forced to ally with a domineering duke used to war and command.  This was setting up to be an exciting, tantalizing Regency Era Romantic Suspense by a new to me author I have been meaning to try so I gathered up this first in series with great eagerness.


Review

The book opens with Patience Jordan in disguise and making a clandestine night-time visit to her former home to be sure the scoundrel who is now in possession is taking care of her baby son.  That very night, she sees relief show up in the form of the Duke of Repington, her son’s legal guardian.  He needs a nurse and she will do what it takes to get near her son and free them both.  She has learned that the English are wary of foreign-looking people like herself and she has been taken advantage of and hurt by unscrupulous, greedy men.  But, in Repington, she has finally discovered an honorable ally though he is demanding as well.

Busick Strathmore, the Duke of Repington, knows war and has the injuries and scars to prove it, but he is unused to the kind of private war that Patience Jordan is engaging in.  He is a protector and her fierce spirit starts turning his ordered world upside down.  He struggles to believe his cousin’s suicide and there are questions that need answering about all involved.   Patience and his ward need the truth to come out as well so he finds himself partnering her and wanting more for the first time.

I spotted the blurb on this one and I could not wait to dive in.  I don’t know what I expected, but the author’s style of writing was the first thing I noticed.  It’s whimsical and different, but doesn’t always feel in sync with the time period so I was distracted as often as amused.  The overall story was good and I enjoyed seeing the social and cultural elements that were included like Patience running afoul of a villain and ending up the unlawful party and criminal and of Busick suffering physical and mental injuries as a war survivor.  I liked the strength in them both and as partners bent on setting things right.

The romance, however, was so-so for me.  I just didn’t feel it between them.  Everything else was strong in this story particularly their roles in the suspense side, but the romance needed more development.  Most of the time they were antagonistic and in a battle of wills.  There was no frisson of attraction beneath that- or at least I didn’t notice any.  They didn’t communicate well together and I felt I was told they were a romance pair rather than see it develop before my eyes.

I do like the premise behind the series and would try another now that I’m used to the author’s style.  It was an overall engaging experience and I can recommend it to historical romance fans who don’t mind some modern-sounding dialogue and ideas cropping in.

I rec’d this book via Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.


Challenges Met

New Release #100
Historical Fiction #74
Romance BINGO #20 ‘duke’ in the title


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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Carole Rae
3 months ago

Not fun for a so-so feeling on the romance.

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

Yeah, it stood out. They were great when riled up at each other or on their mission, but it never quite felt like a true relationship building.

sherry fundin
3 months ago

i love the gulf coast and the caribbean and any books that take place in the locations capture my interest. thanks for sharing
sherry @ <a href=”http://www.fundinmental.com/”> fundinmental</a>

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  sherry fundin

I wish it had been set in the Caribbean, too. It was just a few flashbacks because she’s from there. Still, it’s more than most historicals will give you. 🙂

Melliane
3 months ago

Oh that definitely sounds fun!

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Melliane

She was a spirited heroine. 🙂

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

How disappointing that the romance didn’t connect with you. Hopefully the series improves for you.

Sophia Rose
3 months ago

Yes, I felt like part of the issue was there was so much going on in this one that the romance didn’t get enough focus until after much of the other stuff wrapped up. There are a few side characters that it will be interesting to get their stories.

Ethan
3 months ago

I definitely love the setting of this one, especially for a summer read. Too bad the romance wasn’t up to par.

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Ethan

Yes! This is a great summer read for historical romance fans. Some settings just shout summer. 🙂

Debbie Haupt
Debbie Haupt
3 months ago

I can see why you would have been excited to read this, too bad the chemistry between the duo wasn’t there but good thing that you still enjoyed it. I would have picked it up from the blurb too

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Debbie Haupt

Oh yes, it grabbed my attention as soon as I spotted it in the summer offerings from the publisher. 🙂

Angie Elle
3 months ago

The modernness of the book would have gotten under my skin. I’m glad you were able to find parts to enjoy in the end, though.

I’m curious to know what you think about the cover. This style makes me avoid a book.

Great review! 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Angie Elle

I know. I’m almost resigned these days that if I pick up a newly released romance, that it’s just going to feel like contemporary people dressing up, riding in carriages, and going to balls. Some are better at it than others. This one wasn’t too bad really.

It’s interesting you bring up the cover. I’ve been fooled so often about books with this cartoon style cover. In this case, I think it is cute and does speak to how this pair were at odds, but it also sells the interracial aspect short since you can’t tell by the cover.

Nadene
3 months ago

I am so sorry you did not connect with the romance.

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Nadene

Yeah, I really wanted to see the sparks between them because I thought they were both great. Oh well, maybe the next one will work better for me.

Rachel
3 months ago

Sometimes I can tolerate a lackluster romance if the suspense is a strong part, entertaining part. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one overall. 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Rachel

Yep! The other elements in this one carried it for me just like you’re pointing out. The side of them trying to get to the bottom of her husband’s death and trying to get her restored to her son were so strong.

Sarah @ All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

The cover art is an interesting choice. I know, I am kind of a cover snob, but in this case it seems like the cover doesn’t really fit the story, does that make sense? Like, from the suspense aspect it seems like the book is more serious? But the cover is kind of whimsical? I could also just be very very tired and not thinking all that clearly right now. Highly possible, haha

Sophia Rose
3 months ago

I probably didn’t explain it well, but the whimsical nature of the cover actually matches the author’s lighter writing style pretty well. There are some heavier topics in the story including the suspense, but there is also a wry humor to it all as well. Though, that said, it’s not a fluffy story and that is what I always think when I see these cartoon covers even with this pair looking huffy because their arms are crossed and have their backs to each other- this, too, fits the story. LOL I’ve come to the conclusion that one can get anything… Read more »

Sarah @ All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
Reply to  Sophia Rose

That’s exactly what I was thinking – these covers tend to accompany lighter and fluffier stories, so I was confused. But it makes more sense with that little bit of explanation, thank you 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 months ago

Sure thing! We’ll just go by the blurbs and hints from marketing to try to figure out stories with these covers.

Jen
Jen
3 months ago

Thanks for the honest review – I had heard a lot of great things, and it’s nice to see your review among them. The modern venacular in historical text can bug me, so it’s good to know about it before going in.

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Jen

Sure thing! I did enjoy it, but, like you, there are things that can pull me out of a story and it happened in this one. Because the author wrote with a lighter style, the modern is not as bad as it could have been. 🙂

Lindy Gomez
3 months ago

I love the way you described the author’s writing style as whimsical, and different. It love when an author’s writing fits in to the time period. I’m glad you enjoyed her writing and story so much! Fantastic Review Sophia 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindy Gomez

It was a style that made me smile. 🙂

Lola
3 months ago

This sounds like a solid read. That does sound different how the author had a bit of a whimsical writing style, but I can see how it that might not be the best fit for this genre. Too bad the romance didn’t fully work for you. I usually am not too much of a fan when the couple stays too antagonistic and didn’t communicate well. The suspense and story sound great!

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  Lola

It was modern in thinking and also the writing style and some of the dialogue which is not why I pick up a historical romance, but that said, it was a good story other than them fighting each other so long. 😉

vvb
vvb
3 months ago

The lack of sync regarding style of writing for the period setting might bug me. Yes, cute title, cover and premise though.

Sophia Rose
3 months ago
Reply to  vvb

Yes, that distracts me, too, even if the story itself is fantastic. Cute cover and title were my hook. 🙂