What I Did For a Duke, by Julie Anne Long

>> Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TITLE: What I Did For a Duke
AUTHOR: Julie Anne Long

PAGES: 384

SETTING: Regency England
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 5th book in the Pennyroyal Green series

For years, he’s been an object of fear, fascination…and fantasy. But of all the wicked rumors that forever dog 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 member of the powerful and wealthy Eversea family 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 a gentleness that coaxes out his deepest secrets… 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?
I tried Julie Anne Long a few years ago, but it wasn't a success. I gave The Secret to Seduction a C and filed Julie Anne Long under my "authors I don't get" mental file. But when the entire online romance community absolutely loved her latest, I decided to give her another shot.

Alexander Moncrieffe, the Duke of Falconbridge, is a powerful man. When he finds Ian Eversea in bed with his fiancee, it's obvious to him that revenge is in order. And in typical thick-headed romance novel hero fashion, he decides the most appropriate revenge is to seduce Eversea's sister, Genevieve, and ruin her. Lovely.

I can see why people liked this book. I'd normally rather not have a large age difference between hero and heroine, but even though Alex is quite a bit older than Genevieve, I really appreciated how Long wrote the dynamics between the two of them. Even though Alex is more experienced and powerful, this is not an issue at all when it comes to the actual relationship between them. They're equals, and Genevieve comes out ahead as often as Alex does, and it's clear that he's just as disconcerted by their chemistry as she is.

And there is quite a lot of chemistry here. There's really fun banter, and it's always quite clear why these two are so gone over each other.

I also liked the novelty of having the heroine be the one who's perfectly sure she can separate passion and love. Genevieve is convinced she's in love with a young man her own age, and is heartbroken when he tells her he's proposing to someone else. She's willing to use Alex to make him jealous, and even to actually give in to the attraction they share, but she's still in love with the other man, she insists.

But even though there were things I liked about WIDFAD, I found too many things problematic for it to have been an unqualified success.

The first, I'm afraid, was the whole revenge issue. For starters, Alex didn't seem particularly upset about what had happened with his fiancee. Yes, we're told he was hurt, that he thought he might have loved the young woman, but I'm afraid I didn't believe that for a minute. Which made it a bit strange that he was willing to go to the lengths he was planning to go to with Genevieve. And then, of course, there's the morality of taking revenge on an innocent. Yes, he doesn't actually ruin Genevieve in the end, and she finds out what's going on soon enough and it's out in the open between them, but Alex never acknowledges that what he was planning was wrong. I was left with the feeling that if he hadn't fallen for his planned victim, if it had been anyone else but Genevieve, he would have gone through with it. That didn't make me like him much, to be honest, and left me with no respect for his character. I'd much, much rather read about someone who actually goes through with such a revenge, even though they know it's wrong than about someone who doesn't do it, but never even realises why it might be morally problematic.

The other problem I had with the book was that it was the worst kind of wallpaper historical. I'm not a pedant who goes nuts if an author has the wrong sort of wineglass for the period, or crap like that, but the total disregard for accuracy here was really annoying. It's not about two unmarried people (one of whom is a young virgin from an aristocratic family) having sex. I've no problem acknowledging that could happen, but it would have been a big deal. What bothered me and left me open-mouthed with disbelief was the lack of thought given by Alex and Genevieve to any consequences of their having sex. All Genevieve considers is "do I want to have sex with this man?", and Moncrieffe doesn't seem to think it's a big deal at all. He wants her, so he'll have her. Does he have a problem with the fact that she's unmarried and a virgin? Nope. With the fact that he's a guest in her father's house, and that he actually really likes and respects him? Nope, he's perfectly happy to sleep with the man's daughter. To me, that shows a complete lack of honour, and didn't make me like him any better.

I also did not like the constant sequel baiting and the breathless tone with which the author went on and on about the Eversea males' antics. They all sounded like complete tossers, even the married ones, and I've no interest whatsoever in reading about them, especially that thoughtless idiot, Ian.

MY GRADE: A C. I guess Long is not for me.


Estelle,  22 June 2011 at 12:10  

It's so refreshing to see your opinion about this book. I thought exactly the same and was starting to wonder if there was something wrong with me for not really liking the book (for all the reasons you mention) when everywhere I turned on the net, people were raving about it.

I just couldn't condone Moncrieffe's plan and could never warm up to Genevieve. I never understood how she could blithely get involved sexually with Alex without a thought to the consequences and all the while being so sure she's in love with that other man. It ringed false to me.

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