The latest giveaway book this pedometer geek read was an autographed copy of a book received through a Shelf Awareness Book Buzz giveaway directly from the author, Amelia Grey. Last Night with the Duke is a historical romance, and this is the extended review.
Last Night with the Duke
by Amelia Grey
Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2017
This romance is the first in a series of stories called The Rakes of St. James; there are a couple more planned. The premise behind this series is that three friends, all dukes, wrecked havoc upon the ton or Polite Society (yes, that is the term used throughout the novel) with pranks involving an ill-fated wager, which ruined the reputations of quite a few young women, several years earlier.
Although time has passed, the memories of those affected have not forgotten these pranksters, and it is about to affect two more young ladies especially as the scandal is being resurrected through the gossip rag, Miss Honora Truth’s Weekly Scandal Sheet as the novel opens on this historical (or regency) romance.
Basically, the romance is between a duke and a governess, who is really the grand-daughter of a viscount. From the moment Benedict Mercer, the Duke of Griffin, overhears Esmeralda Swift counsel one of her employees, he is intrigued. He needs to hire a chaperone for Lady Vera’s and Lady Sara’s, his twin sisters, debut Season, and he decides she is perfect for the job.
Esmeralda, for her part, doesn’t want to have anything to do with Polite Society or dealing with Griffin (or his sisters). Having had her mother disowned for a marrying the wrong man (a common poet, can you imagine?) and leaving the family to survive on their own, she throws up every possible roadblock to her employment. Eventually, after his agreement to all of her demands (her younger sister Josephine and dog Napoleon to be included), she reluctantly relents despite the fact he is considered to be one of the Rakes of St. James.
From their first interaction onward, sparks ignite between the two. Each one knows the etiquette of class, but obvious chemistry simmers throughout: heated gazes, feisty interchanges, and slow sensual scenes. Neither wants to cross the line society has imposed, but will they finally admit their true feelings for each other?
A bit slow to start, the romance does a slow burn until it reaches an inferno. While not full of graphic scenes, this romance is still spicy with the ratcheting sexual tension of two people who want to be together, but can’t and won’t because of societal mores. This makes for a satisfying read.
Loved the chapter headings of quotes from Miss Mamie Fortescue’s Do’s and Don’ts for Chaperones, Governesses, Tutors, and Nurses (the manual of the business that Esmeralda Swift manages). Not only is any particular one appropriate to the chapter itself, but people would be wise to follow many of its tenets. Several examples:
“Do choose your words carefully. You never know when they might be said back to you.” (p. 58)
“Don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong.” (p. 266)
“Don’t think that you will never be wrong. You will be.” (p. 273)
The secondary characters are as interesting as the principle characters of Griffin and Esmeralda. The identical twins, Lady Vera and Lady Sara, have distinct personalities of their own, and Josephine is a charmer. Napoleon, the dog, plays his part as well.
Per usual, there are several What-the-tuck trends seen like characters with green eyes (Josephine for example), and one of the newer trends recognized by this reader: the title being that of duke as the principal male character; earls and viscounts having obviously gone out of fashion, or aren’t as high up in society. Yet, it is not a cookie-cutter romance; the author introduces some distinct differences. One particularly humorous (to this reader at least) difference was the fact that the duke hated and complained extensively that the chaperone always chose to wear gray dresses and gowns. Eventually, he made sure there was some more colorful gowns for her to wear.
This was the first of this author’s novels read by this pedometer geek; however, this reader doesn’t plan on stopping with one. Planning on reading more of this author’s works, particularly the others in the series. The next one is entitled To the Duke, With Love, and its expected publication date is in December.
In this reader’s opinion, the title didn’t seem to reflect the story too well; not sure what it should have been, but it just didn’t seem to fit. Maybe it is the WTT Duke thing.