by Megan Frampton
Series: Duke's Daughters #1
Published on July 25, 2017 by Avon
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
Once upon a time, a duke had five daughters who never made a stir. They practiced their French, their pianoforte, and their dancing…until one ran off with the dancing instructor, and the rest were left to face the scandal.
Lady Eleanor, the Duke of Marymount’s eldest daughter, knows the burden is hers: she must marry well to restore the family name. So a loveless match is made and her fate is set. But then Eleanor meets her intended’s rakish younger brother. With his tawny hair, green eyes, and scandalous behavior, Lord Alexander Raybourn makes her want to be very bad indeed.
With his very honorable sibling too busy saving the world to woo Eleanor, Alexander is tasked with finding out her likes and dislikes for his elder brother. But the more time he spends with the secretly naughty Eleanor, helping her tick off all the things on her good list for being bad, the more he knows what they want, and need, is each other.
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Lady Be Bad is yet another historical romance I’ve added to my list of promising stories with mediocre execution. I don’t feel particularly strongly about any elements in the book because, frankly, I didn’t care about the story or characters enough to bother.
Eleanor needs to marry well in order to raise her family up in the eyes of society. The marriage has already been all but arranged, but she knows little of her intended, Bennett, but his brother will do. I mean, come on, this is the PERFECT set-up for a great romance. There’s already secrecy as soon as feelings develop between Eleanor and the brother, Alex, so tension. Yay! And then there’s the romance itself, a little hot, a little heavy, and all sorts of ship-worthy. This book creates the ideal story for a historical romance, something I would generally devour on sight.
Instead, I found Eleanor a tad exasperating because she’s all but blind and has glasses but can’t wear them in public, so this is the source of all sorts of problems but not in the good way. Her character is reduced to this detail and that she’s a woman with no choices in this world. I felt like the author relied on that a bit too much. Eleanor only had the option to marry whoever her parents picked out because of the time period. Okay, sure, I see that in historical romance all the time, but I’ve seen it done better. Here, I wondered if Frampton thought her readers wouldn’t get it based on how often it came up.
Alex is on the outs with his father for a mistake from his past, and he’d do anything for his brother (even learn about her for the would-be groom). I liked him well enough, except when Eleanor called him “Hercules” because. . . yeah, it just didn’t really work for me? But as a gentleman in a romance, he was caring and intelligent, not solely focused on getting Eleanor in bed. I liked that his decisions were almost always selfless. I don’t see that from leading gentlemen often in this genre.
And, unfortunately, all that lovely should-be tension remained relatively nonexistent. The romance was fine. I enjoyed Alex and Eleanor’s relationship, especially because it wasn’t based on pressure from one side or another. They simply get to know each other, developing that friendship to base a more romantic relationship on. Plus, there isn’t an abundance of secrets and mistrust between them that I see way too often in the genre. Yet, the romance wasn’t enough to make things interesting. It was nice. Sweet, even. But not terribly engaging.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Frampton and based on reviews for this title and others, it sounds like her books are generally pretty good so I’ll be checking out more (though probably not in this particular series). Lady Be Bad isn’t a bad book by any means, and certainly not the worst historical romance I’ve read, but it lacked the part of the book that makes me want to keep reading.