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Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

The latest book in the Victorian Rebels series was good but I felt like some things were missing.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: February 7, 2017

He's noble. notorious. And takes no prisoners...
Strong as a Viking. Handsome as Adonis. Rich as Midas. Collin "Cole" Talmage, Duke of Trewyth, is the stuff that legends are made of. He's the English Empire's golden son--until fate has its way with him. Cole's family is killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor--and desire. And now he's ready for the fight of his lifetime...

Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of convenience―one that left her a wealthy widow―but she never forgot Cole.

Now that her long-lost lover has turned up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her, Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her leaves him wanting to protect and possess her...at all costs.

What’s it About? So a long time ago Collin "Cole" Talmage spent a scandalous night with a girl he can only remember as “Ginny” who is actually Imogen Pritchard. After her night with Cole, Imogen married for convenience and ended up a widow working at a hospital to fulfill her need to help others. Years after she met Cole, Imogen is face to face with him again when he comes in wounded, angry, and with no memory of her. Turns out Cole, now the Duke of Trewyth has lost his entire family, and was betrayed on the battlefield by a man he thought was his friend. Imogen’s dilemma is whether to tell Cole the truth or not.

Describe the hero in five words: Angry. Stubborn. Elitist. Loyal. Dangerous
Did you like him? Sometimes.
Why? I couldn’t help but feel bad for Cole. His entire family was murdered, he shared a strong connection with someone only to lose her, and he was seriously wounded due to a betrayal. It was enough to make anyone a little crazy and he was a little crazy! I was lenient on Cole for about half of the book because he was dealing with a lot but the one thing I couldn’t overlook was how mean he could be towards Imogen. No matter that he didn’t know she was the one he was looking for, he had moments of flat out meanness. I didn’t like the whiplash inducing behavior when it came to Imogen. One moment he was passionate and caring towards her, the next he was verbally attacking her. I get that he was bitter and mistrusting of the world by this point but I wasn’t on board with his actions some of the time. When he was being good to Imogen he was irresistible though. His gruff, attitude and superiority complex more often than not battled one another for dominance and that was another part of what brought on the back and forth with him. I will say Cole stands out as a hero who isn’t quite physically perfect.

Describe the heroine in five words: Kind. Nurturing. Intelligent. Strong. Sassy.
Did you like her? Yes.
Why? Imogen started her life at the very bottom, having to do things that would have tainted weak women but not her. She remained kind, loving, and willing to help anyone who needed help. She was no pushover though and when Cole was putting on airs, she didn’t roll over and take it. No matter how outmatched she was, she fought. I liked that about her and I enjoyed the glimpses into her life before she met up with Cole again. I was nervous that the author would try and balance out Cole’s unpredictable manner with an over the top saintly woman but while Imogen is a good person, she wasn’t perfect and wasn’t trying to be. Imogen was, simply put, doing the best she could to lead a happy, fulfilling life all while making her corner of the world a little better.

How convincing were the main characters as a couple? Cole and Imogen didn’t lack in the physical chemistry department but when it came to the emotional one I felt that it took much too long for anything to happen between them. Their back and forth battle of wills was certainly interesting and entertaining because Cole could be a very intimidating character yet Imogen stood up to him and even put him in his place a time or two. I don’t think these two spent enough time together in ways that would push the romance forward and I don’t recall having that problem with the previous books.

Is there a “Scooby Gang” worth mentioning? Previous characters helped round out The Duke and gave it a feeling of family and brotherhood and with characters as dark as Cole, that was necessary to give the book a balance between dark and light.

How “Lost” did you get in the story? Kerrigan Byrne has a style unlike any other author. Each book gives a darker spin on well known tropes without overwhelming the reader with hopelessness. The Duke was no exception but I will say that I wasn’t as dedicated to this one as I have been with the previous books. To me the pace was slower and dragged in certain places that could have been better spent developing Cole and Imogen’s relationship. However, Byrne didn’t skip out on the very realistic portrayal of life in Victorian England, complete with death, disease, and sexual assault. Believe it or not, these harsh scenes served to highlight how dire Imogen’s circumstances were and cast her in a rather heroic light because she survived and chose to help others instead of retreating so far into herself like Cole did.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. Even though The Duke wasn’t the best out of the series so far, it is still a worthwhile read.

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