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A Duke in the Night

A Duke in the Night, March 2018
Devils of Dover #1
by Kelly Bowen

Forever
Featuring: August Faulkner; Clara Hayward
368 pages
ISBN: 147891856X
EAN: 9781478918561
Kindle: B071JLNSCP
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
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"A feminist romance with substance, intelligence, and sumptuous writing"

Fresh Fiction Review

A Duke in the Night
Kelly Bowen

Reviewed by Monique Daoust
Posted February 20, 2018

Romance Historical

Miss Clara Hayward was proud of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies. While her superior intellect and education had not won her any suitors, Clara had been allowed to succeed at something she was good at, thanks to her brother Harland, baron Strathmore, until Haverhall had to be sold to pay off family debts. Clara and Harland want to hang on to their floundering shipping company as long as they can, and selling the School was a sacrifice that had to be made. While enjoying the last summer term in Dover with her students, Clara is stunned to notice the arrival of August Faulkner, Duke of Holloway. August had not anticipated the dukedom he inherited; he had learned to be a shrewd businessman by necessity at an early age, and the drive never left him. Seeing Clara again, ten years after a waltz neither could ever forget, unsettles August; this time, he is determined to do what he should have done the first time around.

It bears repeating: Kelly Bowen is one of the most accomplished storytellers around, and again she shines brightly with A DUKE IN THE NIGHT. Quick to establish a firm foundation for the romance, the vibrant descriptions, and the superbly crafted secondary characters add layers and depth to the story. Clara is precisely the type of historical heroine I crave: she is refined but has used her natural abilities to succeed in a field which allowed a woman to retain her respectability, which was made possible by her socially enlightened brother.

The chemistry between Clara and August is palpable, explosive, nearing the boiling point from the moment they meet again; I enjoyed the pace at which the expected crescendo was building until two words infuriated me. I could understand August's macho way of thinking towards women, this was how women were treated during the Regency era: women should not attempt anything more than being wives and mothers. While August cosseted his sister Anne, she had to earn what she could by defying him, August admired and respected Clara's abilities and success. This brings me to my rant, for which I apologize beforehand. Those two words were "Good girl." I detest when a hero "praises" a woman with this detestable utterance, which generally follows the heroine agreeing to something sexual, which was the case here. To me, one says "Good girl" to a dog, a pet obeying a command, an order. August might have said to Clara, but she, in spite of her lust, would have bristled and balked. I find it a demeaning and insulting way to "show appreciation" when a woman agrees to the hero's demands, needs, desires. This is a pet peeve of mine and not an issue solely with Ms. Bowen, but a universal one: every time I see those dreaded words, I cringe, it infuriates me. And I felt it was especially jarring given the decidedly feminist tone of A DUKE IN THE NIGHT and the Hayward's progressive attitude towards women.

There is a lot of action in A DUKE IN THE NIGHT, and happily intrinsically tied to the seaside location, and there are oodles of little secrets that had me on edge. The dialogues are outstanding: how often are you enthralled by ordinary, frank, honest conversations between the hero and the heroine in historical romances? However, I am a bit torn where the romance is concerned; obviously, it was all well and good with Clara. I had liked August at the beginning, but then I liked him less and less; I thought him too arrogant, and too selfish. He did not tell Clara something of the utmost importance, and although she seemed okay with it, sadly I was not. In spite of their passion, I felt there was something almost clinical about their relationship. On the other hand, Kelly Bowen writes such splendid secondary characters; they almost steal the show: Harland, Clara's brother is wonderful, and Anne, August's sister, is just fabulous; hopefully, we will read their stories in the near future.

Learn more about A Duke in the Night

SUMMARY

Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He's known-and reviled-for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It's a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she's reunited with August all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family's business, her heart can't help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.


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