The Duke by Kerrigan ByrneVictorian Rebels #4
Published on February 7, 2017 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
He is noble, notorious, and takes no prisoners...
They say that now His Grace, Collin Talmage, Duke of Trenwyth has only one hand, he might finally be a mere mortal, but no one seems willing to test the theory. Rich as Midas, big as a Viking, beautiful as Adonis, and lethal as a feral wolf, he is the English Empire’s golden son. But now he’s lost everything. Most of his family died in a terrible accident, his protégé and closest friend betrayed him on the battlefield, and his left hand was cut off while he was a prisoner of war. The only thing that’s kept him going until now is the memory of a night spent in the arms of a mysterious raven-haired woman almost a year ago…
Imogen Pritchard is a nurse by day, but a fallen woman—and a spy—by night. Seduced on the job years ago by a Duke who mourned for the loss of his family, Imogen has never shaken the memory of the man’s despair—or the fathomless depths of pleasure he brought to her. But as the threat of betrayals, blackmail, and secrets abound, Imogen and Collin are thrown back together in a dizzying swirl of dangerous games and earthshattering desire. But can their love overcome the everything that threatens to tear them apart?
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This is the first book I’ve read of this series, and by Kerrigan Byrne in general, and it gave me a serious case of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I liked aspects of the romance and story enough that I read it in mostly one sitting. But then I also had issues with that same romance and the characters who both worked and didn’t for me.
Like I said, a bit conflicted about this one.
Imogen is working off her father’s debts when she ends up being “sold” as a prostitute for the night to Cole, a duke. A year later he reappears after dropping off the face of the earth and while she remembers him and he remembers the woman he slept with — Ginny — things don’t go well on their first meeting. Fast forward AGAIN and now they’re neighbors and he hates this woman, not knowing she’s the one he’s been searching for all this time.
A few things. First, I get that Cole is the dark, broody type and that can work, but he’s a total ass sometimes which certainly did NOT endear him to me. Thankfully Imogen put him in his place to a degree. She was pretty awesome, to be honest. I liked that she stood for her beliefs and wasn’t about to stand down even in the face of danger.
But then there’s the romance. The whole deal where Cole doesn’t recognize this woman he’s so smitten with (after a single night of sex with someone who has no experience and really didn’t do much but lay there) seemed a bit crazy. That he keeps hunting for her and not making ANY sort of connection to Imogen, even from facial features, never quite worked for me. These two also seemed to get all hot and heavy at the weirdest times. I felt like this was supposed to be almost an enemies-to-lovers set-up since Cole doesn’t remember her and they’re at odds during the time period of most of the story, but they never really realized this in full.
Speaking of the time jumps, they almost felt like ploys to make the reader pity Cole and root for him more, despite his awful behavior. But when he’s constantly being compared to a Greek hero or a wolf (okay, we get it, after the hundredth comparison…) and with the way he acts, I don’t feel as much sympathy. I don’t feel the need to root for him because I can’t think of many reasons why he and Imogen should get together.
Clearly my issues with this book are with Cole in general.
While I devoured this book pretty quickly, thinking on it afterwards left a few things not quite right for me. I would definitely be interested in reading the rest of the books in this series, though, as Byrne has a solid writing style that I really enjoyed. Overall, it was an alright romance, nothing amazing though.