Saturday, January 4, 2014

#1 [2014-CBR6] "What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne Long

My plan was to start 2014 off with a nice, important classic: namely, Walden by Thoreau. But then, What I Did for a Duke (2011) by Julie Anne Long became available at my library. Probably no one will be surprised when they hear that I am finished with What I Did for a Duke and only about ten percent done with Walden.

Anyway, I'm very pleased to say that Mrs. Julien and I now have one romance novel that we both really like! I keep reading romance novels: and the ones I really like, she thinks are okay, and then the ones she recommends to me, never really grab me. I thought we'd be forever at odds, but What I Did for a Duke was different. I was entertained throughout the book, and I never got bored--even near the end, which is often a problem.

Genevieve is young and in love with an old childhood friend. She is heartbroken when he tells her that he's planning to propose to another friend of theirs. In fact, she's so distracted that she barely takes notice of Alex Moncrieffe , a Duke, when he arrives at her home for a house party. The Duke, for his part, is intent on "stealing her innocence" and leaving her in order to get back at her brother, Ian, for compromising his ex-fiance. Fortunately, Alex ditches this asinine idea pretty early, or I would have been forced to dislike him. Instead, Genevieve and Alex seem to bond and Alex says he'll pretend to court her in order to get her lost love to realize how much he's missing.

Now, the Duke is a lot older than Genevieve--a lot. He's "almost forty" with some grey in his hair and Genevieve is only twenty. He was married and his wife died almost ten years before. Fortunately, the way Long wrote these characters, I was able to overlook the age difference. First, back then, twenty was a lot older than it was today. Second, Genevieve is smart and insightful. Although she is inexperienced, she knows what's going on and makes her own choices. He never "overwhelms her with sensual desire." Well, I guess he does, but then he leaves and lets her make up her own mind about what she wants to do without pressure. It also helps that she clearly doesn't like the Duke in the beginning and is not enamored of his wealth and power. Finally, I like that Long brought up the Duke's age often. It's much worse when the age difference is mentioned and then it's just accepted. I accepted it with less trepidation when Genevieve made fun of him for being old and then liked him despite of it.

In fact, one of the things I liked best about this book was the interplay between the two main characters. They are witty and funny and always challenging each other. It was a pleasure to read. I liked that Genevieve could be herself around him, and I'm glad there wasn't too much unnecessary melodrama thrown in for plot.

The only thing I'd have to say is that I wouldn't mind if Alex were a little nicer. He was always nice enough to Genevieve,which is important, but his reputation for ruthlessness and his lack of compassion for anyone who crossed him was a little harsh. If there had been more specifics about his merciless behavior and how it led to his success, it would have made me like him less.

Finally, for whatever reason, this kindle version was not plagued by countless typos like some of Long's other books. There were only a couple this time, and they weren't too distracting. After being ready to give up on Julie Anne Long after her last book, I think this means I'm going to have to read some more by her.

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