He had a perfectly orderly life...
William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that's the way he likes it. But he's in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn't begin to describe what happens next...
Until she came along...
Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It's disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William's darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide...
Historical romance is my genre of choice and one of the greatest reading experiences, for me, is finding a new author. Shana Galen is a romance writer with a fairly lengthy backlist whom I have always meant to try out. Therefore, I was really excited when I saw she was starting a new series that I could use as an example of her writing style.
What I Liked
1. For me the best part of the book was the heroine, Juliette. She is a celebrated courtesan who is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance by Prinny himself. I loved how Shana Galen slowly revealed the inner workings of Juliette's character and made her really admirable. Her past has definitely scarred her, but I liked how determined she was to move on with her life and avoid brooding about it.
2. I also enjoyed reading about Juliette's fellow courtesans, Lily and Fallon. They are all given fabulous nicknames by the ton and are thought to be under the protection of the infamous, and married, Earl of Sin. But, things aren't always what they seem to be at first glance and this definitely applies to these ladies. The friendship between Juliette, Lily, and Fallon is very real and well-written. I look forward to seeing the other two Jewels get their happily ever after in the rest of the series.
3. One of my favorite storylines is the cold-hearted, stubbornly proper hero who finds himself falling in love with a highly "inappropriate" woman. And that definitely applies here! William is a wealthy duke who is determined to make a socially acceptable match, but his life is turned upside down when he meets Juliette at a ball. The sexual tension between these two characters is obvious and very entertaining. I loved how Ms. Galen showed them moving past the initial attraction into really getting to know each other over the course of the book.
4. There is a mystery subplot which is a major part of this book and will continue into the rest of the series. I love continual plotlines in series books and am eager to see what happens next with the nefarious Lucifer. I thought this storyline was balanced well with the romance and provided a real sense of danger for Juliette and William.
5. As a first-time Galen reader, I was very impressed by her writing style. She provides a nice mix of lighthearted fun and serious drama that makes for a great historical romance. Her research is obvious and well-acclimated into the overall story.
What I Didn't Like
1. While I liked the overall romance, I did have a hard time getting over the way the hero treated the heroine at the beginning. I understand that his snubbing is a key part of his character early one, but I still found it a bit on the jerk side which I didn't like since I enjoyed Juliette's character so much. I will say though that William did grovel appropriately by the end so I was finally able to forgive him.
2. The only other major issue I had with the book was that I felt like there were too many subplots going on at one time. There is a large cast of characters and I could see how Ms. Galen was setting things up for the rest of the series, but I did find it a bit overwhelming. I probably would have liked to have seen her stick with one minor plot to balance with the love story.
When You Give a Duke a Diamond was a fairly entertaining novel that had interesting characters, an action-packed plot, and plenty of great romantic moments to make me want to read more of Ms. Galen's work. I definitely recommend this for fans of poignant and thought-provoking historical romance with proper heroes and very improper heroines!
Jewels of the Ton
1. When You Give a Duke a Diamond
2. If You Give a Rake a Ruby (Expected March 2013)
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean
Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke
Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne Long
What a Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden