Review: Never Tempt a Duke by Virginia Brown

never tempt a dukeReviewed by Jen

Dear Virginia Brown, Someone has done you a tremendous disservice. The blurb of your book is a travesty.  It is, in fact, no blurb at all.  It’s a tiny snippet of the book, pulled from the middle, which gives a completely warped impression of what the story is actually about.  Maybe you do not have control over this. Maybe I should say shame on you to Bell Bridge Books, but it’s very disconcerting to readers to open a book, expecting one story –and getting another.

Let me give you the blurb that should have been:

Born and raised in America, Alyssa has no idea that her father was actually heir to an earldom in England until he died and her twin brother was tapped to take over the title.  Faced with the horrifying prospect of a convent, she dons the disguise of a man and takes her brother’s place in England while he follows his dreams on the high seas.  Her new guardian, the Duke of Deverell, is a hard man, determined to instill the same qualities in his effeminate young charge.  But there is something about the teenager that’s not quite right.

Alyssa falls for the harsh duke despite herself.  Long after her ruse is uncovered and her youth is left behind, her feelings remain.  And when circumstances beyond either of their control force them together, she finally gets her chance to know the man who has so kept himself at a distance. But can he ever truly let her see him? Or will grief from his past force him to hide behind the haughty exterior he crafted to keep his heart safe from being broken again?

I was a bit worried when the book began and Alyssa was 17.  I’m not a fan overly young heroines, but I was relieved that the romance didn’t begin until she was 21 years-old.  I liked her. She has pluck. And she fights the good fight… first against a future she doesn’t want, and later for a life with the man she loves.  I was on the fence with Deverell as a hero. I didn’t swoon, because he was too closed off for that. He was also kind of a jerk at times. But he had a code of honor and he was honest with Alyssa and the other people in his life.  Plus, he was sexy.

I had some issues, however.  First of all, the book was overly drawn out.  I felt like it could have ended about 2/3 of the way in.  The last third did have some character growth for the hero, but for me it did not justify the entire “danger” plot constructed to get us there.  I think that with some good editing and streamlining, this would have been a much better book.  As it was, it felt like it was meandering along without a clear focus.  The pacing was inconsistent too.

That brings me to my next problem. Time jumps.  At one point we jumped three years. Another, 10 months. I felt like I missed things.  More so in the second jump, where months of their shaky marriage happened off page.  I felt like there were holes too.  Like with Alyssa’s twin particularly. His return felt inorganic to the story after his long absence. And I hated —hated— the explanation of Deverell’s part in the climax.  Who would do that?  He let believe her babies were stolen? Then allowed her be kidnapped?? What??? #fail

It wasn’t all bad. I did enjoy parts of the story, especially in the first two thirds.  Like I said, I think some judicious editing and the deletion of the plot point at the end would have gone a long way to making a better book.

And fix the damn blurb.

Rating: C/ C-

*ARC provided by Bell Bridge Books

Click to purchase: Amazon

Never Tempt a Duke
by Virgina Brown
Release Date: March 31, 2014
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books

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