Review: A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

Reviewed by Jen

When I first picked this book up, I did it on the blurb alone. If I had any idea it was book nine in the Playful Brides series, I would have probably taken a pass– A) because Playful Brides do not sound like my cup of tea and B) I haven’t read the previous eight installments in the series. I’m happy to report that neither point became an issue. There were no playful brides to be found and this book holds up completely as a standalone.

This is a second-chance-at-love story involving a married couple that has been separated for the past ten years. There was a Big Secret/Big Misunderstanding that drove them apart after just a few months together. Now, though, the husband, Mark, is in line for a job he wants desperately–a job he can only win if he proves he is a family man. So her tracks down Nicole to come back and play the part. She agrees, but only if he promises to give her something she wants in return: a child.

Of course, he accepts her terms.

I was not a big fan of Mark’s. The man has Issues. He is estranged from his late mother’s family because they never accepted his Italian father. He doesn’t even acknowledge them, much less use their high standing in the aristocracy to his advantage. That Nicole knew of his lineage before they got married was the very reason they went their separate ways; he was convinced she was angling for a good match instead of marrying for love.

If he knew Nicole at all, he could have never believed that. She wanted way more than a sheltered life of privilege. In fact, she worked with the Bow Street Runner solving crimes. Her mother never understood her. Mark left her. All she wants now is a baby to love and to love her unconditionally; she’s tired of being lonely. But she absolutely doesn’t want to risk her heart by falling for her husband again. He’s made it more than clear that the only thing he cares about is his job.

The book was ok. It moved quickly and it was an easy read. But the romance didn’t wow me. Part of the problem was that there was way too much time spent in flashback, basically spoon-feeding us the backstory. Then, as I said, I didn’t love Mark. I put the bulk of their problems at his feet, because he basically was more wrapped up in his emotional baggage than his love for his wife. He didn’t give her a chance to explain nor did he ever give her the benefit of the doubt. Nicole should have fought harder to make him listen, but still…

On top of that, there is a murder mystery. It’s not a bad one, but it takes up a lot of page time. I felt like the reconciliation was a bit short changed. And when Mark finally sees the light, it’s anticlimactic.

Eh. There wasn’t anything I actively disliked. And it delivered on the blurb. I just didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would.

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Duke Like No Other
by Valerie Bowman
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

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