by Olivia Drake
Series: Unlikely Duchesses #1
Published on December 31, 2018 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
First love is always the sweetest.
For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her aging parents and the children of her siblings. Now, eager to make her own life, she takes a position as governess on the neighboring estate. It shouldn’t matter that her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the infamous rake who once broke her youthful heart. Surely he’s forgotten her, for he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years. At least, that is, until he arrives unexpectedly.
Max is incensed to meet his sister’s new governess. But why does Abby appear just as displeased to see him when it was she who’d rejected him all those years ago? Why is he so drawn to the independent spinster she has become? And why is there a sparkle in her beautiful blue eyes that suggests they might have a second chance at love?
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The Duke I Once Knew was one of those romances that I read for the love of the genre and the tropes, but it wasn’t super amazing. Abby is pulled in all directions by her siblings and finally decides to strike out on her own rather than let them continue to use her for their own purposes.
That set-up alone made me want to root for Abby and the feeling continued the more her character revealed itself. She was smart and down to earth and just someone you want good things to happen for. I think her character sold this book overall. My only issue with her was how she let her family walk all over her any chance they got. I wanted her to stand up to them more and do something for herself.
Her love interest, Max, was a teen love before they fell out of contact, so this was sort of a second chance romance but the flashbacks didn’t lead me to believe it was anything more than infatuation disguised as more to make the story work. Max just didn’t stand out for me and not in a good OR bad way. But I finished the book and he instantly became a name on the page. His character worked for the story, though, which is all that really matters. I rarely re-read romances (there are just SO MANY out there) so he’ll just fade into the background.
The story itself is much like Max: unmemorable. I kept reading despite the rushed pacing and lackluster plot but I wouldn’t say I was super engaged. Their romance was cute. I didn’t really feel it but I was rooting for Abby enough to invest SOME part of myself into their relationship. The Duke I Once Knew just isn’t one of those books I’d pick up for the story. It’s fine if you have the time and want to read a historical romance, but there are better books out there.
That said, I may keep reading in this series. I haven’t decided yet but I have a habit of reading romances like I’m eating candy so we’ll see!