Fairy Tale

The Husband Hunt

The Seduction of an English Scoundrel
Wicked As Sin

A Wicked Lord at the Wedding


The Wicked Duke Takes A Wife
by Jillian Hunter
(Ballantine, $7.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0345-50395-4
When I finished this book my first thought was “huh.” And that pretty much sums up how this book impacted me.  The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife is part of Hunter’s Boscastle family series. This is my first one. I won’t be seeking any others.

Griffin Boscastle is now a Duke. His brother Liam, who he loved, died in a riding accident, although rumors abound that Griffin actually killed him. Griffin is guardian to Edlyn, his purported niece. Edlyn was left on Liam’s doorstep by her mother and he never fully acknowledged her. But Griffin loves the girl and in hopes of getting her out of her depression, he brings her to an academy for girls where she will acquire some polish before her debut.  His aunt Primrose accompanies them.  Once there, they meet a lovely redheaded instructor, Harriet Gardner.

Harriet has an amazing past. She was raised in the poor section of London, making her living as a thief and briefly as an actress. She was arrested and then taken in by a lovely lady who sent her to the academy, and they have made a lady out of her. Gone are her Cockney accent and her slovenly ways. She is smart, dignified and still saucy and spunky when she wants or needs to be. Aunt Primrose notices how Griffin seems attracted to her but she also needs a companion. She convinces Harriet to take the position as her companion and the story has a purpose.

Mainly, that purpose is to watch Griffin and Harriet as they fight their attraction, and then don’t fight their attraction, and then do fight their attraction, etc.  Edlyn has some struggles and Primrose has her moments. But mainly, we follow Griffin and Harriet. Theirs is a tepid romance.  Hunter likes to tell the story versus letting us live the story with the characters.

Rather than experiencing the blooming of love, we are simply told that they want each other and of course, when necessary, Griffin decides he will shun society’s dictates and marry her.  I never felt like I was involved in their romance, but rather that I was just an observer of the results of what they did. For instance, Griffin commented that he was distracted by her. Harriet said she felt flattered and pretty in his presence. They shared a few kisses and later some more intimate moments. But I was just reading the actions; I never felt the emotions along with them. Griffin has ghosts in his past but we never really learn why. Harriet had to overcome a great deal to get where she was, but her past was never explored. Nor were we treated to her feelings or her fears about being in society when society would probably shun her as soon as her past was discovered.  These pieces are just glossed over.

There were quotes at the start of each chapter from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and from Percy Bysshe Shelley. I never understood their point and found this tedious.  Characters move in and out on a whim, such as a shrew dangled in front of Griffin as a possible wife.  She appears for a while, then conveniently disappears.

Frankly, the whole plotline felt off.  I wanted there to be more to it, and it just wasn’t there.  I wanted to like Harriet due to her spunk and what was known about her past.  She had to work hard and must have really felt like she had accomplished something.  But I never got that from the story.  I wanted to like Griffin as the reformed rake he was supposed to be, but I never really felt what he felt or even knew what he knew.  “Mediocre” seems the most adequate description for

The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife, and that is being generous. 

--Shirley Lyons

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