What a fun, fast-paced, and surprisingly modern take on a historical romance! It definitely maintained the best guilty pleasures of the old-school Harlequin tropes, but with a modern mindset that I appreciated. If you're not a historical fiction fan, don't let this novel's premise turn you off—this is one good story.
Enjoyment: all the stars
Set in England in the late 1800s, Bringing Down the Duke follows the two perspectives of Annabelle Archer, a 25-year-old Oxford student trying to thrive in London, and the Duke of Montgomery, a 35-year-old aristocrat with close ties to Queen Victoria. (I mention the age gap as it does influence some readers. I found it tasteful in this case, and very necessary for the plot due to the time period.)
Annabelle Archer is thrilled to attend Oxford's new college program for women, and even more thrilled for the scholarship that allows her to leave her small country village for London. There's just one catch: she must be an active member of the suffragist movement—which includes lobbying members of Parliament and inserting herself into the aristocracy's sphere.
Sebastian Montgomery is the most influential duke in the realm, and a notoriously cold man. He has no time for the softer things in life—he's too busy trying to secure his dukedom's future and reclaim the ancestral home that his father gambled away.
Obviously, these two find their paths cross in a definitive way. Bringing Down the Duke brings a little bit of Pride and Prejudice, a little bit of Jane Eyre, a little bit of Harlequin romance, and a LOT of well-written narrative.
My only complaint is that I wish some of the scene-to-scene transitions had been more logical. We went from A to B to D to C, and then in order to follow the romance, we abandoned some of the slow burn fire for immediate attraction...which felt like an abrupt shift.
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Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.