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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: The Duke of Hearts by Jess Michaels

Seven books in and this one is a contender for my favorite book of the series.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: The Passionate Pen
Release Date: May 22, 2018

Matthew Cornwallis, Duke of Tyndale, once loved a woman, but she died in a tragic accident he felt responsible for. Since then, he’s been playing pretend that he isn’t broken inside, even as he’s seen as London’s most sought after bachelor. He decides to drown his sorrows at the notorious Donville Masquerade where he encounters an alluring stranger who he spends the night with.

Mrs. Isabel Hayes was married once to a man who did not inspire passion and she’s been curious ever since. She has no intention of taking a lover at the Donville Masquerade, but to watch the activities there, just as she has been for weeks. But once the masked stranger pursues her, she is swept away.

Soon Isabel recognizes her lover for who he really is and realizes a terrible truth. She is the cousin of the woman he once loved and lost, and her family blames him for what happened. Driven by the passion they’ve shared, but also repelled by the stories she’s heard, Isabel continues the affair, trying to find the truth. But once Matthew realizes her identity, will he pursue her for what they’ve built, or only because she reminds him of what he lost? And will he survive to share a life with her at all?

What’s it About? Matthew, the Duke of Tyndale lost his fiancé in a tragic accident and has only been pretending that he isn’t completely wracked with guilt and sadness. When his friends manage to convince him to attend the Donville Masquerade, a place where sin and vice are reveled in, he doesn’t expect to do much more than stand in a corner and watch. There he meets a mysterious stranger that he can’t resist and he spends the night with her. Widowed Isabel Hayes spent years in a passionless marriage and wants to experience what she never had before she is packed off into yet another passionless marriage, she just didn’t expect it to be with a man her family despises. Isabel is the cousin of Matthew’s fiance and while she has heard the worst about him, she can’t bring herself to believe it so she decides to use the attraction between her and Matthew to investigate him, but he soon finds out who she is and has to decide if he should continue to pursue the only woman that has made him feel alive for the first time in a while, or if he should stay away from the woman who could open up old wounds and put him in danger.

Overall reaction to the book? I am so glad that I didn’t have to wait until the end of the series for Matthew’s book. He has been this haunting figure in the background, hurting and feeling so guilty over his fiance’s death that he needed help fast before he just up and died on his friends. Jess Michaels delivered a worthy romance for him in my opinion. He didn’t just “get over” his grief and he didn’t bury himself in so deep that it seemed he was never going to get out. I fell in love with Matthew early on in the 1791 series. There was something so beautiful about a man who was capable of caring so much for his friends and at the same time he was hurting so much that he was only ghosting through life. A character like that just begs to be healed and loved which is why I also loved Isabel. She’s kind, and she’s smart, I loved that she wasn’t stupid enough to just take what her family said about Matthew as absolute truth. She was cautious which is what a smart woman does but she was fair. Not to mention fairly independent when it came to her thoughts and beliefs.

The special thing about Matthew and Isabel’s relationship in The Duke of Hearts is that their intense connection and attraction seems to catch them both off guard. That put them on an equal level because neither knew what to do about it. There was a real Romeo and Juliet vibe going on with them but without the teenage stupidity and unhappy ending. Their chemistry was really sexy but it was the tender moments between them that sold me. Matthew was so broken but he could still show affection and consideration for Isabel even when he wasn’t sure about her motives or even his own feelings towards her. As complicated as the situation was, these two had something undeniably special and their romance, heck the whole book is officially a rival of the first book in the series for the title of my favorite book of the series. And it has to do with the relationship between Matthew and Isabel.

I read The Duke of Hearts in like, two days and when I was done I realized that the series is close to its end. How can that possibly be? I felt like I just started the 1797 series yesterday! I don’t know what I’m going to do when the series is over, I have adored the friendship and brotherhood between these men because it is such solid, defining thing about each of them. Even if they are separated by time, life events, or conflicts within their group, they’re still 100% loyal to one another. It’s just the way Jess Michael’s has written this large friendship that has really gotten me hooked. I love romance but real and true friendships are just as important and I feel that has come across really well in each book, especially with this one since Matthew is a bit vulnerable. His friends rally around him to give unconditional love and support with a bit of teasing and tough love. Add in the wives and you have one very large, loving family. Who wouldn’t love that?

Click It or Skip It? Click. All the emotions, angst, and friendship make The Duke of Hearts a contender for my Best in Series title.

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