REVIEW: Desperately Seeking a Duke by Celeste Bradley
Dear Ms. Bradley:
I admit that this is my first experience with you so despite your big backlist, it’s like a debut for me. Unfortunately, the book is like it’s title–trite and predictable. I suppose for fans of the regular regency historical, this book will fulfill that jones. The one good thing about this book is that there are scenes with strong emotion but those could not overcome the predictability of the story.
I felt like I read this story before. Everything about it seemed stale, from the cover, to the setup, to even the hero’s name: Raphael. I think we need to put a moratorium on hero names. No more Lucien, Damon, Demon. No more Gideon, Raphael, or any kind of heaven/hell based etymology.
Miss Phoebe Millbury is a vicar’s daughter who is one of three grandchildren of Sir Hamish Pickering, a man with a great fortune. The first granddaughter to marry a duke will inherit the money. So begins the trilogy of Duke hunters.
Phoebe is in London for the season. At a ball, she spots the luscious backside of a man and watches him move through the room. Later on, she and the man, Lord Raphael Marbrook, are out on the balcony and apparently fall in love. “Marbrook had met her, talked to her, taken her into the dark garden and proceeded to make her fall entirely in love with him-‘had almost-not-quite kissed her!” Rafe points her out to his half brother, the legitimate heir to the Duke of Brookmoor. Half brother decides to marry Phoebe and Phoebe accepts because of a misunderstanding.
Despite being in direct competition to her cousin, Millbury is being sponsored by the controlling, greedy, grasping aunt. I didn’t understand why the aunt would do this as she wanted the money, and the dukes, for her own daughter. There were awkwardly used phrases such as “Lord Raphael Marbrook, titled by courtesy if not by legitimate birthright” and even more awkward pacing. I.e., Rafe and Phoebe have these intense longings for each other after having met on the balcony for a few moments. Those moments included Phoebe relating some kind of fairytale and the two looking longingly into one another’s eyes.
Another problem for me was a stylistic one. There was heavy use (possibly abuse) of the ellipses:
Again. I want to sin again-and again… and again-
She pushed her hands on his broad shoulders to lift her bosom away from his chest. I will not be a creature of animal passions. I will be a-
His shoulders were rigid with muscle, hard and flexing beneath her palms. He would be a miracle of manliness without his shirt-‘like one of the workers of the fields when they thought no women were about-
Stop it! Obviously a firm grip was needed, for she was-
While the individual scenes of angst and despair by the characters could have been moving, the lack of set up failed to get me to invest in the characters and their journey. I kept asking why the characters were so full of angst given their short encounter instead of being torn emotionally by Rafe being out manuevered and shunted behind the legitimate brother yet again which could have been a powerful story. Instead, the whole story seemed very scripted. C-
This book can be purchased in mass market. No ebook format.