Review: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

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Star rating: 3.5 /5 ⭐

Synopsis: from Goodreads

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….

General information: This was published in 2019 by Berkley Books.

My thoughts:

Happy New Year!!! I’m ringing in 2021 with a review of a historical romance, a genre I don’t usually read. Look at me, branching out.

Another change for 2021: I’m rating with half-stars now! I feel like it gives me a little more nuance in my ratings. I’m also going to stop using Goodreads- I’m trying StoryGraph this year and I really like it so far.

Now onto the actual review.

I read this in 2 days, which is rare for me these days. I absolutely devoured this book!

I loved the focus on the women’s suffrage movement. That was really interesting, and it seems like the author did her homework on it. I also loved the female friendships in this book; that’s something that’s not always a focus of romance novels, but it worked well in this particular one. Lucie, Catriona, Hattie… I loved all of them and hope they get their own sequels one day! (Of course, one of the sequels is out already, so go check that out!)

I also really enjoyed the stakes in this novel. That’s another thing that romances don’t always do well- sometimes as I’m reading a romance, I just want to scream “Talk to each other and you wouldn’t have this problem!”. In this one, I totally believed the stakes and why they were apart. It felt very real and I felt the conflict was done well.

However… I just didn’t feel particularly compelled by the male lead, Sebastian Devereux. I felt that he was kind of a jerk sometimes and I wasn’t particularly rooting for him the way I was rooting for Annabelle. I’m sure some readers will love him, but his character just didn’t connect with me.

I was also slightly annoyed by the intense instant physical attraction the main characters experience. Of course, it happens in real life, but we spend so much time in the book talking about how attractive they find each other that I feel the romance part wasn’t developed as strongly. They have some good banter, but they know each other for all of a few weeks when they start declaring their love. (Which is probably a common trope in romance, but it bothers me all the same).

Overall, I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and will probably read the sequel. I might even start reading more historical romance in general!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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