Sunday, February 21, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Duchess If You Dare by Anabelle Bryant

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Duchess If You Dare by Anabelle Bryant is the first in the Maidens of Mayhem series. To be released next month, it is a new addition to the genre of Regency Romance adventure. It involves a sex-drenched plot in a nominally Regency setting. The setting permits the novel to have a duke (Aylesford) for a male protagonist which in turn creates the main obstacle to the relationship: dukes can’t marry commoners. (Although as the duke himself points out often, “I am Aylesford. I do what I want.”)

The female protagonist is no ordinary commoner. Scarlet Wynn is the illegitimate daughter of a prostitute who died a violent death at the hands of her client. Scarlet is also a superhero crime fighter, a member of the Maidens of Mayhem, a group of four women dedicated to protecting the downtrodden women of London’s stews. 

The plot hinges on the disappearance of a young seamstress/part-time brothel worker, Linie. Linie designed and sewed Scarlet’s unusual outfits: trousers, split skirts, disposable cloaks, and lots of pockets for hiding knives. Scarlet is determined to find her. Linie was also the special favorite of Aylesford’s good-for-nothing younger brother. The brother is concerned by her disappearance. So Aylesford takes on the challenge of trying to determine what happened to the girl.

Aylesford is largely ineffectual. He believes he can solve the problem by throwing his ducal weight around, but that gets him nowhere. Meanwhile, Scarlet haunts the seamy underbelly of London looking for clues. Their paths keep crossing. Realizing they can help one another, but mostly drawn to each other by uncontrollable desire, they join forces. However, they make little progress, partly because every time they get together to discuss the case, they end up making out. The sex scenes become lengthier and more intense and the plot takes a back seat until the mystery is largely solved by someone else.

The novel does give a nod to the inequities of the political/economic system and plight of women in Regency England. And it does have a super-strong female lead who has no need of a man to fight her very literal battles, but only needs a man to love. Unfortunately, for me, the relationship between the two was unconvincing and focused so much on sex that I couldn’t have finished the book without skimming.

No comments:

Post a Comment