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Thursday, July 2nd, 2015
Book review: Sally MacKenzie’s What to Do With a Duke

I took the boy to his doctors appointments today. Knitted on the way up, then read this book while waiting, and got stuck in traffic on the way home (the man drove up, I drove home). Anyhow, I’m a sucker for regencies, so I was looking forward to this one.

Caveat: I received this from NetGalley.

The description of What to Do With A Duke intrigued me. The Duke of Hart is going to his family estates to find the next spinster to be installed in Spinster House. It seems that 200 years ago, the wealthy orphaned daughter of a merchant set up the house for a spinster from the village who needed a place to live independently. When the current spinster marries or dies, the Duke must choose the new resident from the candidates who present themselves. In the meantime, the same woman who founded the house, apparently has also put a curse on the Dukedom. Every duke will be doomed to die before his heir is born. So he marries and gets his wife pregnant, and before she can deliver, he dies. So far, five dukes have suffered that exact fate.

Enter Cat (short for Catherine) who is desperate to get away from her loud, boisterous family. At 24 years old, she never has room or time for herself, constantly helping take care of her many siblings. She has no interest in marriage and desperately longs to be installed at the Spinster House. Marcus, the current Duke, at thirty years old, is feeling lonely and wants a companion, though he believes in the curse and is certain that when he marries and gets his wife pregnant, he’ll die. All his friends and servants buy into the curse as well. Of course, when he and Cat meet, sparks fly and soon they find themselves drawn to each other, and uncertain anymore what they want or believe.

I loved the dialog in the book. It felt realistic and was witty and funny. The supporting cast were wonderful, from Cat’s family, to the village locals, to the duke’s servants, and his estranged mother. Their attraction to each other was startling to both and fun to watch grow. On the whole, I really enjoyed the book. I also loved the idea of the Spinster House, and the history of the curse and Isabella (the merchant’s daughter).

I did have a few issues, though. First, I had a hard time believing that Cat’s good friends, even jealous and angry with her, would do what they did (avoiding spoilers here, so apologies for the vagueness). Second, Marcus spends an awful lot of time thinking about his cock. After awhile, the word gets really repetitive. The thing I didn’t like the most was the curse. I had a hard time that Marcus believed it so strongly. The author reinforced it so much that it felt a little bit like “the lady doth protest too much.” I love the conceit, but I wanted to see more showing of how it affected his life and his choices, rather than having that summed up by his mother and by introspection.

I’d give this book a solid 3.5 /5 stars.

2 comments to “Book review: Sally MacKenzie’s What to Do With a Duke”

  1. Raquel Gulley
    Comment
    1
     · July 3rd, 2015 at 3:37 pm · Link

    Sounds cool. Sorry if my response sounds a little dry, I’m really enjoying crimson wind!



    • Di Francis
      Comment
      1.1
       · July 3rd, 2015 at 10:25 pm · Link

      Yay! I love hearing that. You’ve no idea.



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