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

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: Last Night with the Duke by Amelia Grey / @StMartinsPress

Series & Title: The Rakes of St. James, Book 1: Last Night with the Duke
Author: Amelia Grey
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From & Reviewed For: St. Martin's Paperbacks

Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all?

The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling around London that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind--until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.

Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride in Last Night with the Duke, the first novel in the brand-new Regency Rakes of St. James series by New York Times bestselling author Amelia Grey.

In his youth, the consequences of his actions were the furthest thing on Griffin's mind. At almost thirty years old, he has to face those consequences because they could ruin his sisters' futures. At age and about to debut into society, Griffin finds himself struggling for ground when rumors reach him that someone seeks payback on his sisters for a prank he and his fellow rakes pulled years ago. That can't happen, not since they did nothing wrong and deserve none of this blowback.

So he hires a chaperone, someone responsible and sensible enough to watch his sisters while he figures out who would dare threaten them. Esmeralda is perfect for the job.

Esmeralda needs money to keep her employment agency open. She may not normally accept chaperoning positions herself, but she makes an exception and moves into his home with her sister and their dog. (Side note: Esmeralda's sister, Josephine, is an incredible secondary character. She's sarcastic, can be a bit snooty, but she has a beautiful heart that makes getting to know her--not just the reader but the other characters too--worthwhile.) While Griffin's character is pretty open and plain to see, Esmeralda is a little more of a puzzle. It takes a bit but it's eventually revealed she's the disowned granddaughter of a Viscount who took over the employment agency from the former owner in exchange for room and board.

The attraction and eventual fall into love between Griffin and Esmeralda was slow and, to be honest, fluctuated between lukewarm and hot. There were times when it seemed to came to life between them, breathing through them, surrounding them. Then other times it was a fleeting sensation. I think it had more to do with their circumstances and pasts than anything else.

Griffin's single mindedness pursuit of Esmeralda wasn't a surprise. There are plenty of stories out there that feature an Alpha male who has eyes for one female and one female only. Others pale in comparison and he makes it his goal not just to get her into his bed but to show her, tell her, make her understand she is his, always will be his, and nothing will persuade him otherwise. This style of pursuit is usually seen in more contemporary works though. Seeing this in a historical romance is what was surprising.

There is quite a bit of conversation in this story as well, with each other and other characters. There is also several pages worth of inner reflections. This may or may not be a deterrent for other readers. I admit I lost my patience with this. "A little less conversation, a little more action" (Elvis Presley, 1968) kept rolling through my head even when I re-read parts because I skimmed the first time through. For readers who enjoy the slower pace and the dialogue, you'll enjoy these moments. For readers who are accustomed to fast pace, lots of action, you might struggle with these. I'm in the latter group because this is all I've been reading lately, so my impatience has nothing to do with Ms. Grey's writing or the flow of the story.

Still, I did like this story. The trope is a tried and true one, the HEA is guaranteed. There isn't anything in this story, nor is there anything in the synopsis, that makes it angsty or dark or taboo, unless you count the relationship between a peer and a lesser. It did leave me with a fair amount of curiosity regarding Griffin's fellow rakes. It will be interesting to see how their stories play out and if they will have their moments of redemption from that fateful prank.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Amelia Grey read her first romance book when she was thirteen. She’s been a devoted reader of love stories ever since.

Amelia has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over thirty-five years and she lives on the beautiful gulf coast of Northwest Florida.

She is a two-time winner of the prestigious Booksellers Best Award, and she has also won the Aspen Gold, and Golden Quill awards. Writing as Gloria Dale Skinner, she won the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the Maggie Award. Amelia’s books have been published in Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, and Japan. Several of her books have been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs.

The Duke In My Bed and The Earl Claims A Bride were Amelia’s first two books in the widely acclaimed “The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels” trilogy. The third book Wedding Night With the Earl is coming in March 2016.

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