|Mad About the Duke is a safe, predictable love story between a fortune hunter and a man she thinks she’s hired as her solicitor. Are you ready for the tired “surprises” that are sure to unfold as you read it?
Elinor is Lady Standon, one of the Standon widows who have recently fallen upon hard times. Elinor’s marriage was short, sad and doomed by her husband’s weird sexual proclivities which are never examined in detail. She’s fairly happy to be widowed and would remain so except that she has to wed again to ensure that her younger sister Tia remains under her guardianship. Her monstrous stepfather (yawn…see, I told you) will marry off the 14 year old to any old man with money, regardless of how she will be treated, just like he did with Elinor. So, Elinor plans to marry a kindly Duke, and they will care for Tia together and live happily ever after.
Elinor meets Mr. St. Maur, who she mistakenly thinks is a solicitor. She decides on the spur of the moment to hire him to help her search for a duke to marry, and the sooner the better. Now, James Tremont, the 9th Duke of Parkerton, is never addressed as anything other than “Your Grace” or “Tremont,” and the lure of being an ordinary man for a few minutes is appealing. He suddenly accepts Elinor’s offer to help, but doesn’t realize that this means he will have to spend a lot of time with her while he does so.
While Elinor and James hunt for a Duke and get to know each other, they are (of course) attracted to each other, but there are irreconcilable problems that slow them from acting on it: James has lied to Elinor about who he is, and Elinor likes James, but needs to marry a Duke. Meanwhile, Elinor’s family has mostly figured out who James really is, but is content to sit by and watch the drama unfold. The attraction flares between our leading couple as they continue to attend events in the name of courting, and hijinks and confusion ensue.
Mad About the Duke is trying to be a new spin on an old tale, but it ends up just being one more waltz around the historical romance dance floor. If you think that you have already read this book with a different hero, you probably have. If you liked it the first time, you will probably like it again.
There are a very few fresh moments, such as James’s upset stance that he isn’t on Elinor’s prospective list of dukes since he’s too old, and Elinor’s yearning to buy a new style of dress at the market, but they are far too few to make the same old story into a new and different adventure.
If you like your heroines as damsels in distress, and your heroes as staid Dukes bursting into their own personalities, with the London ton as the backdrop and a lukewarm love story in between, then this will be a must read for you.