Title: The Inconvenient Duchess
Author: Christine Merrill
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency-Era
Rating: 3 (3.4) stars
Description/Synopsis: "Dear Cici and Father," "I have come to Devon and married a duke. And I'm more tired and hungry than I have ever been in my life. Please let me come home."
Compromised and wedded on the same day, Lady Miranda was fast finding married life not to her taste. A decaying manor and a secretive husband were hardly the stuff of girlish dreams. Yet every time she looked at dark, brooding Marcus Radwell, Duke of Haughleigh, she felt inexplicably compelled--and determined--to make their marriage real
WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW
This book was another of what I like to refer to as a "sure-read". Like most of Harlequin's novels, it was clear and well-written. The story was fast-paced, and I enjoyed it immensely. In fact, I had trouble putting it down.
Marcus was your typical brooding-but-good-natured male lead with a tragic past. Like most of his kind, he had a temper, but he had trouble trusting others around him - and with good cause. I'd have trouble trusting people as well if I (god forbid) were related to his brother, St John, or his horrible mother.
Was I bothered by the fact that he was obviously formulaic? No--because when I go into reading a book such as this, I expect it. The reason people keep coming back to this type of book is because we do feel comforted by the cozy sense that we've been here before. We know what to expect from the characters, and that sense of familiarity makes it easy to fall into the story. We get caught up in it, and take it for what it is: a fun, afternoon romp through a far away place and another life. So while there may be some readers who frown on this type of formulaic book, you won't find that here. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm okay becoming a sheep for an afternoon. I'm cozy in this side of my pasture, thank you.
Miranda, on the other hand, was not quite what I expected. It's so easy in these types of regency-era books to have the female lead fall into one of two categories: either she's a simpering virgin or a hard-willed hellion. In this case, Miranda was both. It was interesting to see a female lead that was so obviously uncomfortable in society life trying to cope with the sudden position she found herself in. Miranda was a stubborn, no-nonsense type of woman, but she was unsure of herself when she was pushed outside her station and comfort zone. It was interesting to see how the author handled the contradictions in her personality and her situation, and I think Ms. Merrill did a fantastic job.
That being said, there were some parts of this story that I thought lacked the polish of perhaps a more experienced author. Though the book was formulaic, and it should have been an easy follow-through of events, I did feel as if it were a bit rushed. There were a lot of conflicts presented in this story between St John and Marcus, and, of course, Miranda was thrown in the middle -- but I almost feel as if the tension and conflict were glossed over. Any arguments between Miranda, St John, Marcus, or even the staff of the household, were very quickly handled. No one was left to stew for more than a page, so while the points of tension were there, I don't feel like they were given enough of an impact.
I would have loved to see more time spent on the detail and the tension in this story. Even a little more intrigue would have been welcome. I guess, in the end, it felt as if maybe the story was wrapped up in a little too neat of a bow. On the whole, I liked the book. It took maybe two hours for me to read through the whole thing, and it was a fun little romp into the regency-era for the day, but I think it could have been handled a little better had a little more patience been used.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick historical romance to wade through on the bus or in a doctor's office. It was a quick, enjoyable read, and while a bit predictable, that didn't diminish its entertainment value.