I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Reluctant Duchess by Sharon Cullen
Genres: Romance, Historical, Regency, Victorian
Perfect for fans of Mary Balogh and Eloisa James, Sharon Cullen’s seductive new historical romance ignites as a shy country girl and a hotheaded duke surrender to dangerous temptations.
Lady Sara Emerson was jolted out of her dull provincial life by her cousin’s murder. Now that the killer seems to be targeting her, Sara seeks help from the man who was once her cousin’s fiancé, Gabriel Ferguson, Duke of Rossmoyne. With his towering frame and fiery personality, Ross cuts an intimidating figure. Living under his protection, however, has its own hazards—like the sudden urge Sara feels to take their relationship in new, exquisitely inappropriate directions.
Dazzled by the social graces of his betrothed, Ross never noticed her shy, blushing cousin. Looking at Sara now, though, he’s drawn to her lovely eyes and calm disposition. Funny how a year away from the hustle and bustle of the ton changes a man. But Ross has no intention of allowing a woman to interfere with his plan to return overseas. He will simply capture the murderer and set sail once again. The problem is, with her beguiling lips and heavenly touch, Sara makes him never want to leave home—or his bed—again.
There’s a good story buried here.
Thoughts on The Reluctant Duchess
It’s hard for me to pass up a murder mystery wrapped up in a romance. Bonus points for it being a historical romance. Which is why I requested it when I saw it on NetGalley. (As I am wont to do, apparently.)
That said, it was a little difficult to get into The Reluctant Duchess, mostly because of how often we’re told about Sara’s social anxiety and Ross being overbearing and duke-ish. I caught glimpses of it with Sara’s inner reactions and how Ross acted, but the excess explanation overshadowed really seeing it for myself.
That said, once I got past the awkwardness of the narrative (including the occasional random backstory dumps in between dialogue), the story sucked me in. Sara, for the most part, was easy to relate to, because she had trouble seeing herself for the awesome person she is. It did get old, especially toward the end, but that’s kind of normal in books.
As for Ross, he spent a lot of time comparing Sara to his dead fiance, Meredith. Which was rather annoying at first, but I think maybe it was necessary for his character, as least in terms of showing how HE’S changed since Meredith’s death.
I enjoyed all the secondary characters, including Ross’s mom and his friend Montgomery (although it was annoying how often we were told they were friends and how they’d come to be friends after Meredith’s death — I would have preferred to see it in action).
Even so, it was easy to suspect who was behind Meredith’s murder and the letters to Sara. Likely because once Ross and Sara were forced into attending a few balls, only one man kept coming around afterward, so there was never much mystery for me on that end. Who else would it have been?
I was glad to see Ross and Sara finally come together at the end, and it was rather sweet how Ross took care of Sara after all that happened. I’m intrigued by Sara’s friend Grace, who I assume had her own book previously. I might be willing to pick that one up to try more Sharon Cullen.