Friday, June 12, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James

After finishing Eloisa James’ historical romance Say No to the Duke, I forged ahead with the more recent book, Say Yes to the Duke.

The heroine in this novel is Viola Astley, an adopted daughter of the Duke of Lindow. Unlike the rest of her family (tall, lean, self-confident, bold), Viola is short, voluptuous, and excessively shy. She doesn’t feel like she is a “true” Wilde, even though her family has always treated her as one of them. Dreading her debut to the point of physical illness, Viola is emboldened when a handsome, young, kindly vicar is recruited to their village. The vicar has a fiancee, but the woman is so shrewish and clearly wrong for him that Viola feels no qualms about hoping to steal him away.

Viola and her family (including her step-sister Joan who will be debuting at the same time) make their way to London. The vicar makes the journey as well. At Viola’s debutante ball, she asks the vicar to meet her in the library for moral support. But when she gets to the library, it isn’t empty. She overhears two men in discussion.

Devin Elstan, Duke of Wynter, is one of the men. Known to be cold, haughty, and anti-social, the duke has come to London in search of a wife, because that’s what dukes do. He has heard that a Wilde daughter is available and since he feels he must marry the daughter of a duke, and is entitled to do so, this one will do. He’s thinking of Joan, because the other one is not a real Wilde. Thus, he gives voice to Viola’s greatest fear. Rather than flattening her, it energizes her. The man is so obnoxious, she ends up giving him a piece of her mind.

He’s intrigued.

The courtship follows. Wynter is determined to win her. She is still attached to the idea of the vicar and has trouble forgiving the duke for what she has heard. The courtship is a growth process for them both.

What brings these two together mostly is sexual attraction. They have to marry before they have a chance to get to know each other very well because they are caught in a compromising position. The remainder of the novel is the married couple finishing the work of the courtship.

It’s a quick, entertaining romp. The characters are likeable. Viola is a particularly sensible and forgiving sort. The banter between them is fun. I look forward to the next book in the series.