What I Did for a Duke
by Julie Anne Long
Despite its horrible title, What I Did for a Duke is the best book to date in Julie Anne Long's "Pennyroyal Green" series which focuses on two rival families in Sussex. Up this time, is Genevieve Eversea, whose life is humming along quite nicely, thank you, until everything crashes around her. This puts her in good company with Alexander Moncrieffe, the Duke of Falconbridge, who is in a similar situation.
The book opens with Falconbridge finding Ian Eversea in bed with his fiancée. Surprisingly, he doesn't kill Ian, though Ian certainly expects it, for the duke has a dark reputation, but rather, Alex lets Ian go with the promise that he will extract a fitting revenge at the proper time. Needless to say, the engagement is off. Shortly thereafter, Alex arrives at the Eversea home for a house party where the instrument of his revenge becomes clear: Genevieve Eversea, Ian's sister. Yes, it's the old "seduce and abandon the sister of your enemy" revenge plot. But, something happens on the way to the telling of the trite - Long takes us in a different direction and the result is an emotional and poignant story.
The morning of the house party, Genevieve's heart was broken when Harry, the man she expected to marry, one of her dearest friends, tells her that he plans to propose to Millicent, Genevieve's other dearest friend, sometime during the house party. Genevieve's heart is broken, though she does a good job of hiding it. She is, after all, the sensible Eversea. In a dramatic and over-the-top family, she is the quiet, calm, serene one. However, Alex somehow sees beneath her façade to the passionate, deeply feeling person that everyone else in her life has overlooked, including herself. Genevieve also quickly susses out why the grand, dangerous duke is suddenly so enamored of her company. It is what they each do with the knowledge that makes for an interesting relationship and story.
Long does such a nice job of showing us Genevieve's heartache. She is not demonstrative, but is quietly suffering while she goes about daily life, with the additional burden of having to deal with a pesky duke. I truly felt Genevieve's pain; the deep ache is familiar to anyone who has suffered heartbreak. Alex, while not completely in love with his fiancé, was on his way to being so and had planned to have a happy life with her when all his plans went awry. Genevieve and Alex find in each other kindred spirits, even though they appear, on the surface, to have nothing in common.
But, lest you think this a sad story, What I Did for a Duke is full of humor, verbal sparring, funny descriptive asides, and snappy dialogue. It is also a deeply sensual book, by far the hottest book Long has written.
While there is a lot to enjoy here, there are a couple of points that kept this form being a perfect read. Long calls a character by the incorrect title throughout the book, which drives me a bit bats, and she had a penchant for using animal metaphors, and North American animals metaphors - wolverines and bears and pumas, oh my! - that always brought me up short as I was reading.
But these are minor complaints in a truly touching, funny and sexy read. I highly recommend What I Did for a Duke.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, January 25, 2011
“The best book yet in the Pennyroyal Green series.”
March 2011, 384 pages
For years, he's been an object of fear, fascination . . . and fantasy. But of all the wicked rumors that shadow the formidable Alexander Moncrieffe, Duke of Falconbridge, the ton knows one thing for certain: only fools dare cross him. And when Ian Eversea does just that, Moncrieffe knows the perfect revenge: he'll seduce Ian's innocent sister, Genevieve - the only Eversea as yet untouched by scandal. First he'll capture her heart . . . and then he'll break it.
But everything about Genevieve is unexpected: the passion simmering beneath her cool control, the sharp wit tempered by gentleness . . . And though Genevieve has heard the whispers about the duke's dark past, and knows she trifles with him at her peril, one incendiary kiss tempts her deeper into a world of extraordinary sensuality. Until Genevieve is faced with a fateful choice . . . is there anything she won't do for a duke?