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REVIEW: The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Dear Mrs. Quinn,

book review Even after I failed to appreciate your last book, I was eagerly awaiting this one. I knew nothing about it until I started reading it and then read the review at AAR. I do agree that the plot, a young highwayman being abducted by his Dowager Duchess grandmother because she’s convinced he’s the son of her lost middle son and is determined that he take his rightful place as the current Duke thus displacing the grandson she – for some reason – can’t stand, is not to be taken seriously. But once I got involved with the story and began to become better acquainted with the characters, I was caught up in their emotions, the interplay of relationships and how it was all going to work out.

I will admit that I didn’t ever get over Jack’s casual feelings for his recently adopted career as a highwayman. Stealing just isn’t right, no matter if he’s only trying to survive, avoiding going back to his comfortable home in Ireland to a family which obviously still loves him despite what he might think they feel after he brought his younger cousin’s body home from the war in France, or tying to help those soldiers less fortunate than he. But I did come to like Jack. He’s a charmer who can smile and cajole almost anyone into doing what he wants and usually what he wants harms no one. It’s not until late in the book that the seeds of why he acts as he does are sown and not until almost the very end that we truly learn why. Thank you for not turning him into some wounded angst bunny who whinges on throughout the book.

Grace Eversleigh is a quiet, composed companion to the Duchess but you avoid making her into either a mouse like creature or a spitfire champing at the bit. She’s well aware of the service the Duchess did her by saving her from her lecherous cousin after Grace’s parents died but that doesn’t keep Grace from feeling slightly resentful of the Duchess’s more outrageous demands. Nor from being delighted when Thomas hands her the means to financial independence. Grace is a good friend, she loves to laugh, she has to be convinced that marrying above her station is all right but she’s not a martyr about it. Brava.

Thomas is a deliberate enigma. As the current — though maybe soon to be displaced Duke – he’s been raised to fulfill his station in life, to be a good steward of the Dukedom, to put the needs of others before his own. He’s a decent guy, he does the right thing and I can’t wait to read the second book in this series to see it all from his POV and uncover all the things you will reveal about him. I especially loved the discussions he and Jack had about what to do with the Dowager Duchess. Outer Hebrides indeed!

I enjoyed watching these main characters as well as the secondary ones, evolve as the book progressed. Grace gets the courage to dare for a relationship where she thought she’d have none in life. Jack overcomes years of guilt and shame at the same time as he discovers there is a woman in the world he wants to marry. Thomas begins to shed his reserve as it dawns on him that he might be free from the overwhelming weight of responsibilities which have always held him in place.

Once past the rather contrived beginning of the book, it’s a delightful character study and another quieter style of Regency. Yes, Jack was a soldier but he’s not burdened with PTSD. Grace is a companion but she’s not a dowdy frump. Thomas starts out rather stiff necked but he looks like he’s about to cut loose and show who he really is. The Dowager is a beyotch but then she’s old and set in her ways and I’m glad you didn’t turn her into a warm fuzzy bunny just because she thinks she’s found the son of her favorite son.

There were moments, especially at the start of the book, that are filled with what I call “wandering in verbal or mental – circles” but either I got used to them again or they eventually got toned down by book’s end. And after the ‘early story reworked for current publication’ that was “Miranda Cheever,” this book feels much better plotted and written. B for “Lost Duke.”

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

19 Comments

  1. Mos Stef
    May 28, 2008 @ 04:33:31

    Great review- though I did enjoy it a lot more than you did :) Julia Quinn is one of my favorite romance authors, and of the ones I’ve read so far (I’m still fairly new to the genre) this is my new favorite of hers. The treatment of him being a highwayman was dealt with in an oddly casual manner, but Jack was just such a great here- witty and charming- that it didn’t really bother me. I really liked the mutual respect Grace and Jack had together, and I enjoyed the journey thoroughly.

  2. Maggie Robinson
    May 28, 2008 @ 07:02:06

    I believe Jack was kind of a Robin Hood who distributed his spoils to the neglected Napoleonic War soldiers and their families. JQ could have emphasized this a bit more to make him more heroic, but then Jack didn’t think of himself as a hero. I really loved this book on so many levels and am looking forward to Thomas’ story.

  3. Jayne
    May 28, 2008 @ 07:19:00

    I did get the Robin Hood aspect of what he was doing. But it still bothered me. If he had acknowledged that ‘yes, what I’m doing is wrong but here’s the reasons I’m doing it” and “yes, I know the dangers I’m facing,” I would have been more okay with it. He could have been shot during a robbery or hung if he’d been caught yet possible death didn’t faze him. Perhaps because he’d been a soldier.

  4. Corrine
    May 28, 2008 @ 08:05:11

    I apparently enjoyed this much more than you did as well. In fact, I would go so far to say this is probably one of my favorite Julia Quinn novels. I loved, most of all, the pure joy that Grace and Jack brought each other: the goofy smiles, the jokes, the warm fuzzies. It makes me want to sigh myself.

    And I can’t wait to see just how far Thomas lets go in the next book.

  5. Jayne
    May 28, 2008 @ 08:44:11

    After reading the review at AAR and the comments here so far, I’m getting the idea that I didn’t feel the love quite as much as, well, just about everyone else. [g]

  6. Dalia
    May 28, 2008 @ 10:39:47

    Doesn’t Jack say at some point that he kept some of the spoils himself because he ‘had to eat’ or ‘live’ or somesuch? I had an issue with the lack of issue made of him as a romanticised thief.

  7. Ciara
    May 28, 2008 @ 13:31:30

    I’m beginning to feel that I am the only person in the whole wide world to like the Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. Ha! I’m really excited to read this one. I adore Julia Quinn (let’s forget On the Way to the Wedding). I love her dry wit and her sharp dialog. the first three chapters online were great. I’m glad the rest of the book lives up to the great beginning!

  8. orannia
    May 28, 2008 @ 15:10:38

    Nope Ciara, you’re not alone. I liked The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever too (although The Viscount Who Loved Me is still my favourite). I’m really looking forward to reading The Lost Duke of Wyndham, although it usually takes my local library a little time after release to purchase a book.

    Jayne – is the second book set after The Lost Duke of Wyndham or at the same time please? (I gathered from your review the second book is from Thomas’ POV.)

    orania

  9. Ciara Ann
    May 29, 2008 @ 04:06:10

    I didn’t really like this one. I think more back story was required to better explain the characters actions, especially the grandmother.

  10. Jayne
    May 29, 2008 @ 04:57:50

    Orannia – from what I’ve heard, the next book (Mr. Cavendish) is the same story told from Thomas’s POV (which we didn’t ever get in this book). I believe it’s due out in September.

  11. Jayne
    May 29, 2008 @ 04:58:51

    Ciara Ann, perhaps the second book will show everything. I especially want to know why Thomas and his grandmother loathe each other.

  12. Phyl
    May 29, 2008 @ 10:17:32

    I have this one on my PDA to read while traveling this weekend, but now I’m thinking I’ll save it and wait for the second one so I can read them back-to-back. Interesting to see reactions both positive and negative. At least no one’s comparing it to On the Way to the Wedding…..

  13. loonigrrl
    May 30, 2008 @ 02:41:29

    I’m about half way through this one, and although I think parts of it are cute, I don’t think it’s great. The characters are pretty forgettable, IMO, except for the grandmother who’s such a beeyotch and is in so much of it, that she’s pretty much ruining the story for me.

  14. Mireya
    May 30, 2008 @ 17:24:21

    The review pretty much matches my thoughts on the book. It took me a bit to get “into” the story as well. Additionally, am I the only one who fell in love with Thomas??? Oh, and I just saw the cover… can we say yummola?

  15. loonigrrl
    May 30, 2008 @ 18:39:29

    Mireya, I don’t know if I fell in love with Thomas, but already I like him much more than Jack. Jack just seemed so insubstantial- I agreed with Amelia who thought he was too charming. Thomas, however, reminds me a bit of a Lisa Kleyas hero, maybe that’s why I like him so much.

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