Monday, June 13, 2016

ANTHOLOGY REVIEW: "A Year Without a Duke" by Kate Pearce, Suzanna Medeiros, Genevieve Turner, Jennifer Haymore, Sabrina Darby


Historical Romance (Regency England)
eARC, 425 pages
Read in May 2016

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The duke has died. Long live the duke! The only problem is no one knows who the new Duke of Beckworth is. All of England wonders, but no one more so than the people who depend upon Beckworth for their livelihood. In 1816, a year so cold that the word “summer” is a cruel joke, that livelihood is even more uncertain. However, they are all about to find out, with the duke away, there is nothing more warming than scandal and love…

A Year Without a Duke is a fun box set featuring stories from five different authors that take place during 1816.  Each story can be read as a stand-alone, but they follow the same external plot so it would be beneficial to read them in order.  The connection between the novellas is that a duke has died and the search is on for the heir while the people who rely on the estate try to live as normally as possible.  I have read two of these authors before (Genevieve Turner and Sabrina  Darby) and jumped at the chance to try the others.

Jilted in January  (A Year Without a Duke, #1)
Jilted in January by Kate Pearce
This story features Colin, the assistant land agent for the Duke of Beckworth, and Rose, a Beckworth relative who is living on the estate until her betrothed returns to marry her.  Unfortunately, Rose's fiance has no intention of marrying her which puts her in the position of a poor relation of a duke that cannot be found.  Colin sees Rose's predicament and decides to help her out.  I thought the characterization of Colin and Rose was well-done.  The romance was sweet, but happened very quickly.  I liked the story and wanted much more. (3 stars)

Forbidden in February (A Year Without a Duke, #2)
Forbidden in February by Suzanna Medeiros
The focus now shifts to the late Duke of Beckworth's young valet who travels to settle his recently deceased mother's estate.  He arrives at her house and is shocked to discover that her companion is still living there.  What follows is an entertaining battle between Robert and Isabel as both characters try to deal with their changes in fortune and their obvious chemistry.  I enjoyed the valet/companion pairing, but found that there was too much insta-love for my taste.  I also didn't care for Robert's early treatment of Isabel. (3 stars)

Seduced in September (A Year Without a Duke, #3)
Seduced in September by Genevieve Turner
This was a very different story which takes place on the Beckworth estate and features a romance between a governess and a stable master.  Adele is the governess to the late duke's young ward and has had an interest in Edward, the sexy stable master, ever since she took the position.  There is a lot of flirtation surrounding riding lessons that I found amusing and I loved the little background details on the running of a large estate.  The pacing of this story was well-done for the shorter page length and I liked the realistic approach the couple took to their situation. (3.5 stars)

An Affair in Autumn (House of Trent, #3.5; A Year Without a Duke, #4)
An Affair in Autumn by Jennifer Haymore
This is an entertaining "at sea" romance with reunited childhood friends, Mark and Caro.  They are off to find another friend of theirs who is believed to be the missing Duke of Beckworth in America.  What makes this story work is that the couple had a connection before appearing on the page.  The close proximity of the ship's journey forced them to evaluate their true feelings for one another which is always a lot of fun.  This novella also has a connection to Haymore's House of Trent books and interested me enough to want to try more in that series. (3.5 stars)

A Duke by December (A Year Without A Duke, #5)
A Duke By December by Sabrina Darby
The Duke of Beckworth has finally be found!  Nathaniel left England for America in order to amass his own wealth and was shocked to discover that he had inherited a title.  His strong sense of responsibility forces him to set sail for his birthplace though he also had to bring along Lizzie, a beautiful young woman that he rescued and placed as his secretary.  Once at the Beckworth estate, Nathaniel and Lizzie have to figure out to run the place and deal with their secret feelings for one another.  This is the longest story in the collection and is the best, in my opinion.  I loved both main characters and the way that the author showed their relationship growing.  It is always great to read about two likable characters finding happiness with the person they have loved for a long time.  (4 stars)

2016 Historical Romance Reading Challenge

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