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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Man oh man was this one good! It was a risky choice for me but it paid off in a big way because I couldn't put it down! Sarah MacLean sets readers up to fall in love with Malcolm!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: June 27, 2017

The one woman he will never forget…
Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…
After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal-to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…
The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day …

The day of the duchess.

What’s it About? So let me just get to the point of the story with some blunt talk: Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven done effed up with his wife Serafina. In fact, he effed up so bad that she up and disappeared on him for three years. In those three years Malcolm has done a lot of self reflecting and realized he was a giant donkey's butt but he can't tell Sera because he can't find her. Now he's under pressure to produce and heir and low and behold Sera waltzes back into his life but not so she can resume her position as the Duchess of Haven, nope, she wants to be free of him for good but Malcolm won't let her go without a fight so he comes up with a harebrained plan to keep her close, he will agree to let Sera go if she helps him find a suitable second wife first. That way Sera has to stay with him for awhile and Malcolm can take that opportunity to show her that he's changed and that he loves her like mad.

Overall reaction to the story? I found myself super excited for this book because I remembered what happened between Malcolm and Sera from the first book in the series. I didn’t think their broken marriage could be saved and frankly after THAT scene in the first book, I didn’t think there was anything else to be said. I’m so glad I was wrong though. I normally shy away from this particular kind of conflict in romance but I trusted Sarah MacLean would find a way to make Malcolm and Sera characters worth fighting for. Their story was as much about heartbreak, growth, and forgiveness as it was about rediscovery, passion, and love. In short, I fell in love with this story and think it's the best in the series.

My only real complaint was how the flashbacks were done. There was way too much bouncing around from the present to three years before Sera walked out on Malcolm, then the present, then back to two years before Sera left, to the present, then back to the day Malcolm and Sera met… Basically the time line was too jumpy and I got confused a few times because of all the jumping around. I think the story would have flowed much more smoothly had Malcolm and Sera’s past been told all at once in the beginning and then jumped into the present.

Describe the hero in five words: Stubborn. Guilty. Determined. Reformed. Intelligent.
Did you like him? Yes.
Why? The Malcolm of the past would have earned a resounding “No” from me but three years of searching for Sera and punishing himself over belatedly realizing how big of an ass he was and that he actually did love her changed him from an arrogant loser to a man who could be loved and was worthy of forgiveness. Yes, I called his younger self a loser. The flashbacks showed just how much Malcolm grew in three years and it didn’t come easy. He had to endure Sera’s absence in his life in order to really reevaluate what his life was supposed to mean. I loved the lovelorn, humble man he became because of the pain he went through. I’m not saying I loved that he suffered, just that I love what he made of himself because of it. There was some real soul searching going on there and while he was sorry for how he treated Sera, he didn't become a man with a "whipped dog" attitude. He still had enough alpha male in him to make things interesting.

Describe the heroine in five words: Strong. Smart. Caring. Stubborn. Lost.
Did you like her? Yes.
Why? Poor Sera broke my heart in the first book. She was quietly, strongly resigned in a way to the fact that her marriage was a disaster but she didn't end up a poor, put upon wife. She took drastic action and got herself out. I loved that she made such a life altering decision because it allowed her time and space to think, grow, and become such a formidable woman. Sera wasn't perfect, she sabatoged her chances to get closer to Malcolm the second time around out of fear which was completely understadable but it almost cost her what she didn't realize she wanted most. I appreciated Sera's proactive approach to her life, and had more than a few moments of "You go girl!" She never let herself become a doormat because of love, I felt that she had too much respect and love for herself, along with a sense of self-preservation to allow herself to be the put upon wife.

Let’s talk about the romance: What a romance! Malcolm and Sera really had to fight for their happy ending but it was all believable and I enjoyed the tough spots as much as I did the hot and heavy scenes. These two have so much bad history that it seemed impossible that there was a way to make it work the second time but with three years apart, they managed to grow into more mature characters and actually got to know each other in a way they hadn't before. The flashbacks made it seem like all Malcolm and Sera had between them was sexual chemistry and they didn't make time for the important things like communication and trust. In the present, it felt like they were going through an odd sort of courtship where they were learning what made the other tick as well as rehashing old wounds and seeing them through each others' eyes. All of it made for one hell of a convincing love story.

How about that supporting cast? Seraphina is a character that thrives the best when she’s among people she loves. Her sisters all make an appearance in The Day of the Duchess and I have a real soft spot for all of those mischievous women. As troublesome as they may have seemed on the surface, I saw how strong they were as individuals and as a family. They're loud, they're blunt, but if you mess with one, then the rest of them might just gut you in a dark alley when you least expect it. They're my kind of sisters.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. Even if you're like me and normally don't go for a guy who would do what Malcolm did, give him and Sarah MacLean a chance to change your mind and show you how in the right circumstances, forgiveness can be just as powerful as love.

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