by Christy Carlyle
Series: Duke's Den #2
Published on April 30, 2019 by Avon
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he’s ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need, but the one thing he can’t purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage.
Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan’s marriage to the perfect lady—as long as that lady isn’t her. She doesn’t need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety.
As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can’t ignore.
In the Duke’s Den, can happiness ever be a winning prospect?
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After reading A Duke Changes Everything, I was excited to dive into Anything But a Duke. Once more, Carlyle gives us a heroine challenging societal norms and a hero who’s been hurt and in need of healing. For some reason, I just love this kind of story and Carlyle’s writing especially.
For starters, we have a female inventor as a protagonist! I loved Diana. She’s smart and driven and has this strength to her that came right off the page. Her father left an emotional mark on her life in more ways than one but she’s persevered to do right by her family and her own conscious. I couldn’t help but want her to succeed, especially when she was faced with a decision that could destroy her dreams.
Counter to her, Aidan is a self-made man who understands the value of hard work and has raised himself up but still faces the roadblock that is society. I liked that he was honest with his feelings, his opinions, all of it. The dynamic between him and Diana felt real, if rushed by the timeline of the book. Each was faced with a societal expectation that they couldn’t meet without giving something up and I was so happy when the relationship grew to the point of acceptance of their feelings for each other.
Diana’s part of the story, either receiving funding for her inventions or giving them up entirely and marrying to help her family, was the more interesting of the two plots for me. She had a motive behind everything she did and I could root for her as she faced real challenges. In contrast, Aidan’s subplot of looking for his mother never carried the same weight despite being the more emotionally interesting of the two. I never quite cared enough because it came in and out of the main story so quickly. I felt like it wasn’t developed enough and there more to fill pages.
That said, I enjoyed this book just as much as the first in terms of the romance. Diana and Aidan have chemistry, they’re well suited, and I enjoyed their dynamic on page, both during the more heated moments as well as everyday interactions. I do wish their romance hadn’t been as rushed since I felt the beginning of the book moved quite slowly compared to the rest and their relationship could have been a bit less insta-lusty. But I still liked it. And I’ll definitely be picking up the third book in the series which I’m hoping features the third co-owner of the den!