Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. So it’s a little surprising that, of all the romance I’ve read over the past year or so, not a single one of them was historical. In fact, I think the last historical romance I read was Outlander. And that was five years ago. But when I saw Bringing Down the Duke, I knew I had to read it. Historical + romance + feminist = right up my alley.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.
Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?
Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….
Bringing Down the Duke is the romance novel I didn’t know I needed, in more ways than one. It actually reminded me quite a bit of one of my favorite classics, Pride and Prejudice (I love a good hate-to-love romance, okay?). But this book had the added bonus of being much more overtly feminist. In fact, it’s a major plot point, which I loved. I really enjoyed the political aspect of this book, and I think it added an element that was a little more than what I imagine most historical romance to be (I haven’t read a lot of it, so let me know if I’m wrong).
While this definitely had a lot in common with my beloved P&P, the humor in this book was a bit more contemporary, in a good way. In no way did this book feel like it wasn’t historical accurate, but I enjoyed the fact that the characters seemed more honest and open. They were a little less buttoned-up, especially in how they were presented to the reader, and it made for a more fun reading experience.
I also really liked that this book defied some of the tropes I hate, especially (minor spoiler here) the experienced, divorced man seducing the younger virgin. I’m not a huge fan of that, especially since it seems to be repeated over and over, and Evie Dunmore tipped it on it’s head in a way that may or may not have made me do a little feminist fist pump. I absolutely loved the feminism in this book. It just made me really happy to read, especially given that this is a historical romance novel, two genres that, separately and together, I think could benefit from some more feminism.
★★★★☆ – Bringing Down the Duke was such a fun read! I couldn’t put it down. Definitely a top-five romance book for me, and I cannot wait to read more from Evie Dunmore.
Bringing Down the Duke is available in stores now. You can get your copy on Amazon (where it is currently half off!) or Book Depository OR support my favorite indie romance bookstore, The Ripped Bodice, which is where I got my copy (I get no commission from them, but they’re really awesome and deserve your support).
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible.
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