If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: How to Capture a Duke by Bianca Blythe / @blythe_bianca

Title: How to Capture a Duke
Series: Matchmaking for Wallflowers, Book 1
Author: Bianca Blythe
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: January 28, 2016
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From & Reviewed For: Bianca Blythe

All she had to do was find a fiancé.
In four days. In the middle of nowhere.

One reclusive bluestocking...
Fiona Amberly is more intrigued by the Roman ruins near her manor house than she is by balls. When her dying Grandmother worries about Fiona's future, Fiona stammers that she's secretly engaged. Soon she finds herself promising that she will introduce her husband-to-be by Christmas.

One dutiful duke...
Percival Carmichael, new Duke of Alfriston, is in a hurry. He's off to propose to London's most eligible debutante. After nearly dying at Waterloo, he's vowed to spend the rest of his life living up to the ton's expectations.

One fallen tree...
When Fiona tries to warn a passing coach about a tree in the road, the driver mistakes her for a highwaywoman. Evidently he's not used to seeing women attired in clothes only suitable for archaeology waving knives. After the driver flees, Fiona decides she may as well borrow the handsome passenger...

Fiona's passion for artifacts, her social awkwardness, and her self-taught education made her one of the most charming historical heroines I've had the pleasure of getting to know. She is fearless even when she is uncertain, relentless even in the face of social adversity, determined when she probably shouldn't be. But her love for archaeology doesn't mask her despair over losing her parents several years before and the knowledge that her ailing grandmother will soon leave her as well. The heaviness of Fiona's grief is but a thin undercurrent in this story. It isn't dwelt on long or explored in depth. Yet it is what pulls Percival deeper into her.

For all that Percival wants to do right by his deceased cousin, the former Duke, he's the most uncomfortable Duke I've ever met. I don't mean his leg, which he lost in battle, but his acceptance of his new position. It was plain from the beginning he was struggling with his new role, and it was also obvious he was doing everything his cousin would have done. Where did that leave him? Trying to fit into a pair of shoes a few sizes too big. Meeting Fiona derailed the pre-designed plans laid out for him by his Aunt. That fateful meeting also prompted him to follow his heart and make his own choices. After all, this was his life now. Why not live it to his heart's content instead of someone else's?

The constant back and forth between Percival and Fiona was amusing, at first. His insistence she release him. Her refusal to do so. His attempts at escape or trying to get help. Her thwarting him at every turn. But those moments grew fewer and fewer as the story went on. They were no longer strangers when it turned. They were...acquaintances looking for acceptance or approval. Perhaps it was because they were strangers at first that seeking those things from each other made sense. I loved that they opened up to one another, spoke about what weighed so heavily on their hearts and minds.

The kisses and intimacy occurred at just the right moments in this story, but the emotional connection they made before then is what had me hoping they didn't mess up. For both, to me, it was their chance to be really, truly, blissfully happy with themselves and with life.

This is a beautiful and rich story. It's light and amusing yet evocative and thought provoking. It's well-written and descriptive with characters who are quite...amazing. Percival and Fiona have great depth to them, layers that are peeled back one at a time throughout the story until the real them showed through.

Ms. Blythe is an author to watch. If you haven't read this, I hope you do.

Born in Texas, Wellesley graduate Bianca Blythe spent four years in England. She worked in a fifteenth century castle, though sadly that didn't actually involve spotting dukes and earls strutting about in Hessians.

She credits British weather for forcing her into a library, where she discovered her first Julia Quinn novel. Thank goodness for blustery downpours.

Bianca now lives in Massachusetts with her boyfriend, though she will admit to craving warm scones and clotted cream. She's not certain she can admit to reading about handsome, roguish dukes, at least in a location where her boyfriend might stumble upon the fact.

But if any readers are stumbling upon this, rest assured that she does write about rather swoon worthy heroes :-)

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