Review: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake

Reviewed by Jen

I enjoyed this first book in Olivia Drake’s Unlikely Duchesses series. This is a second chance at love story between a duke and the girl who grew up as his next-door neighbor. Max and Abby fell in love when they were teenagers, but tragedy tore them apart. When Max‘s mother died, his father took him away to London and they never heard from each other again.

The thing is, this is also a Big Misunderstanding story. Because both Abby and Max wrote to each other. They both hoped for a future together, but someone intercepted their letters and they have not spoken to each other in 15 years. Max went on to be a rake of the first order. Abby ended up taking care of her aging parents and evolved into a spinster. Nearing her 30th birthday, she decides to take a job as governess to Max’s sister rather than be a glorified domestic servant for her siblings. She never expects to see Max, since he has lived so long away from his sister.

Of course, Max comes back, just weeks after Abby takes the job. He has his friends and a potential mistress with him. But thoughts of her, or really anything, go out the window when he and Abby come face to face again.  Thankfully, it does not take too long for the misunderstanding to be revealed. But there is still mistrust there. Especially from Abby, since Max swears he will never fall in love and his reputation makes him sound like he’ll sleep with anything that moves.

I liked both characters well enough. Abby was a woman who was finally finding her independence after doing for others her entire life. I liked that she was willing to venture out on her own to seek out the future she wanted. Max probably wasn’t the greatest guy while he lived in London, but I could see him evolving over the course of the book. They did kind of pick back up with their feelings for each other very easily after a 15 year break, but if you are willing to put that aside, the romance is generally satisfying.

Max’s would-be mistress is a decent foil, although I felt like the subplot with his friend Ambrose kind of got dropped along the way. Maybe he will show up in a later book in the series. Abby’s family was pretty hard to like, but I did enjoy Max’s staff, his boxer friend, and his younger sister as secondary characters.

I’m curious to see how the series will move forward and I am willing to give the next book a try. 

Overall, I found this and easy and pleasant read.

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Duke I Once Knew
by Olivia Drake
Release Date: December 31, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

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