by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle #4
Published on June 25, 2019 by Avon
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
One little wager will determine their fate—a daring escape or falling into temptation with a rakish lord.
Lady Betsy Wilde’s first season was triumphant by any measure, and a duke has proposed—but before marriage, she longs for one last adventure.
No gentleman would agree to her scandalous plan—but Lord Jeremy Roden is no gentleman. He offers a wager. If she wins a billiards game, he’ll provide the breeches.
If he wins…she is his, for one wild night.
But what happens when Jeremy realizes that one night will never be enough? In the most important battle of his life, he’ll have to convince Betsy to say no to the duke.
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After 3 hit-or-miss books in the series, I was hopeful that Say No to the Duke would be on the positive end of things like the first book. I wasn’t disappointed!
This time around, the Wilde in question is Betsy, a younger sister and belle of society. At first, I thought this would be yet another prim and proper miss finding a husband but I was pleasantly surprised with the character depth James gave Betsy. She’s not about succeeding in society for personal gain, but out of fear for what happened with her mother and having that same “disgraceful” nature revealing itself in her. This was as much a book of self discovery and acceptance as it was a romance, at least where Betsy was concerned. Having been told her whole life that it’s wrong to want intimacy with someone, watching her accept that society was wrong was really amazing to watch. She’s witty and passionate and not afraid to speak her mind, even if she did it in a roundabout way. I could relate to her struggles of fitting in and questioning who you are which made her a heroine I wanted to root for.
Her counterpart, Jeremy, had struggles of his own after returning from the war. I don’t have personal experience with PTSD but it seemed clear that was what James was portraying with Jeremy and I think she went about it in a respectful way. It was never thrown in a bad light and his growth in accepting what happened during the war and forgiving himself for everything he felt was his fault humanized him so he wasn’t just a name on the page. That was one of the strengths of this book, the character development for both protagonists.
As for the actual romance, there were definitely some enemies-to-lovers vibes going on, not to the point that I would actually call it that but I loved the tension between Betsy and Jeremy. They’re clearly attracted to each other but neither wants to act on it so it was quite the slow burn for a while there. They had good chemistry and developed their relationship beyond the physicality of it which I appreciated. Too often I see romances where the entire relationship is based solely around attraction and it’s not enough.
I definitely think Say No to the Duke redeemed this series for me. The last couple books weren’t working for me as much but this was highly entertaining and you can read it on its own, though it does help having the background of the previous books as their characters pop up throughout this one.
Say No to the Duke is definitely a book you want on your shelf! It’s a light read despite all the emotional growth of the characters and just plain entertaining! And if you enjoy this glimpse of the Wildes of Lindow Castle, make sure to check out the rest of the series!