Daring and the Duke
Before I kick off anything else, this is absolutely a “your mileage may vary” kind of book. As the third one in a series, the emotional weight of this work is going to depend on your engagement with the other works. I think I read the previous two – I’m sure I did, actually, but they’ve fallen completely out of my brain, so for me, this was basically a stand-alone novel.
If you’re someone who has strong feelings about Ewan coming into Daring and the Duke, I am not your reviewer.
With that out of the way, the plot is thus: Grace and Ewan have been connected for most of their adult lives in one way or another and have loved each other for that time. After a tragic incident involving misunderstandings and fire, Ewan flees London and Grace believes him to be gone from her life forever. When he shows back up in her neighborhood, she has choices to make and he has groveling to do.
Because this is the emotional apex of a trilogy, the first quarter of the book is spent bridging Brazen and the Beast (book two) and this work. I didn’t really remember those events, and the information provided didn’t inspire me to care overly much, so for me it was a lot of angst that felt like I was supposed to be wrenched by it but… wasn’t.
When the story advanced to present time, the rhythms picked up and I found myself significantly more invested in both the plot and the characters. However, as everyone began talking about Ewan and his reappearance and how Grace and her brothers would react, I found myself mentally wanting to skip to the part where they all just used their words and figured out what was happening. Instead, most of the book happened in the spaces before those conversations.
I wasn’t completely frustrated, however, because Ms. MacLean’s signature wit is evident throughout. Her writing is atmospheric – I could basically smell Covent Garden – and the dialogue is sharp. While the plot wasn’t particularly engaging to me, the characters were and I found them enough so to keep reading and to be pleasantly entertained while doing so.
Overall, if you’re a fan of historical romance and like it happening outside of ballrooms, this series might be up your alley entirely. It takes place amongst the back alleys of the poorer sections of the city, and the character and flavor that Ms. MacLean gives to the setting is excellent. If you’re coming to this series fresh, I’m not sure I’d start here – since you really need more of the emotional connections from the previous works to get the most out of this one.
Who’s read all three? I see a lot of people on Goodreads swearing Ewan can’t be redeemed and demanding groveling. Are you in that camp? How did this one work for you?