Dusk with a Dangerous Duke
People who make fun of romance novels assume that all of them are like this one. Dusk with a Dangerous Duke features purple prose galore, a club full of heroes with ridiculous nicknames (and the one in this book is a total ass), no plot to speak of, and the most unintentionally hilarious ending I’ve seen in quite some time – or maybe ever. In my house we are fond of quoting Jane from Pride and Prejudice; when someone can’t understand the appeal of something, someone else will say, “You do not allow for differences in situation and temperament.” I can’t imagine the situation or temperament that would enjoy this book.
The plot, such as it is, centers around Lady Grace Kearly and the Duke of Huntley (Hunter), who are engaged when Grace is a toddler and Hunter is a young teenager. It doesn’t matter why. Neither one is ready for marriage, so Hunter ignores Grace for nineteen years, then comes to find her because he’s going to lose his inheritance. But now she’s put out that he ignored her for so long, and because a relative has been telling her lies about him. So she isn’t sure she wants to marry him. He makes up her mind for her by drugging her at a picnic and taking her to Gretna Green. They get married, get shot at, confess their undying love while their house burns down around them, and then the book is over.
So what fills up these pages? Well, the most important thing to know is that this book is about the Lords of Vice, who are, like, totally cool. In fact, the first third of the book is spent introducing them over and over in the hopes that you will get all their cool nicknames straight. Hunter. Dare. Sin. Saint. Frost (that was the dumbest – his title is Lord Chillingworth. Get it?). Grace meets their wives, who talk about what it’s like to be married to a Lord of Vice. And obviously it is awesome, because when have cool nickname clubs ever steered anyone wrong? I tried to interest my husband in founding a modern American version of this based on professions. His friends could have nicknames like Balance Sheet, Accounts Receivable, Month End, and CFO. He wasn’t keen on the idea for some reason. This sort of thing was a joke ten years ago, and as a romance community we should all band together and discourage anyone from doing this ever again. Just say no!
Other things we should just say no to? Drugging and kidnapping your “bride” come to mind. He doesn’t do this for any reason that might be excusable, but because he can’t bother to be charming and court her, and because he’s just a total dick. In a better book, they would get to know each other while being chased by pirates, or attending balls and sneaking out together, or…well, something. But there’s no time for that here, because we are busy catching up with all of the Lords of Vice. did I mention that they had this really cool club called Nox? Because they totally do.
What else do they totally do? Talk in giggle-inducing purple prose. I lost track of how many times I laughed out loud. I think my favorite gem was on their wedding night, when Hunter says:
”Am I not a lucky gent? A naked wench in my bedchamber. It’s my favorite way to while away an evening.”
or was it when Hunter mused about how beautiful Grace was and thought:
He had been right to stay away from her. Otherwise, he might have been tempted to turn her into a woman before nature had finished molding her into the glorious creature she had become.
Because he’s a pedophile? How else are we supposed to read that sentence?
I won’t go into the numerous typos and poor word choices, but I do wish at least one editor knew that the term is “on tenter hooks”; rather than “tender hooks” – it happens twice.
Despite all this, I was still on the fence about whether this was really an F book. I’ve read some awful books in my day, but an F really has to be earned, and I find most bad books more likely to be in the D range. What sealed the deal was the ending, which I fully intend to spoil because no one else should read this book anyway – and because it’s just too funny not to share. Hunter and Grace have just escaped the clutches of the villain, who set the house on fire. Over the villain’s unconscious body, they finally get around to confessing their undying love (while the house continues to burn around them). Then, in the space of two short paragraphs, someone breaks down the door (which they didn’t notice was locked, as they were busy declaring their love in a burning house), puts out the fire (one assumes), and Hunter and Grace walk out of the house, “joyful in the knowledge that they had saved the one thing that was priceless to each of them.” Who cares about the servants, anyway? It reads as if the author just got tired of writing and decided to end the book then and there. As the whole thing is completely ridiculous from start to finish, I couldn’t entirely blame her.
Though my imagination fails me, I suppose it is possible that someone could truly enjoy their time spent with the silly Lords of Vice in Dusk with a Dangerous Duke. Possible, but unlikely. On the off chance that you know someone who is prepared to judge the entire romance genre on the questionable merits of a book like this, do us all a favor and give them something by Sherry Thomas or Courtney Milan.