How to Love a Duke in Ten Days
Lady Alexandra Lane is a woman of secrets. Not only did she survive a horrific rape when she was a teenager, but she’s now being blackmailed by a mysterious stranger who claims to know about the assault. Obviously, Alexandra doesn’t want society as a whole to know what happened, so she has been paying the blackmailer. Now though, with her family on the verge of bankruptcy, she knows she needs another way to keep her secrets hidden.
Marriage has never been high on Alexandra’s list of things to accomplish, but it might be the only way she can save herself. After all, if she marries an influential gentleman, her blackmailer’s leverage over her will be substantially weakened. But who should she marry, and how will she manage to endure the physical side of marriage?
Piers Atherton, Duke of Atherton, is a man bent on revenge on those who wronged his family. He has reason to believe that finding a bride will aid him in his plan, and from the moment he lays eyes on the beautiful Alexandra, he knows she’s the woman for him. Unfortunately, obstacles aplenty are placed in the path of their HEA, causing Piers and Alexandra to fight hard for the love that has bloomed between them.
AAR reviewers Shannon and Alexandra got together to discuss this first installment in Kerrigan Byrne’s new Devil You Know series, and are here to share their thoughts.
Alex: I picked up How to Love a Duke in Ten Days because I’ve heard good things about Kerrigan Byrne and thought a new series would be a great place to start. What made you want to review this?
Shannon: I read and really enjoyed the first book in Ms. Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series, and the rest of them are sitting on my iPad waiting to be devoured. I was drawn to the darker style of storytelling, so different from the frothiness that saturates today’s market. Granted, light and fluffy historicals definitely have their place in my reading life, but I sometimes need something darker and more substantial to balance things out.
Alex: This book definitely is darker than the average historical romance, since one of the key plot points in this book is Alexandra’s assault by a schoolteacher. We see clearly how it alters the course of her life, leading to her forging strong friendships with the girls who helped her through it, but also making her more cautious and disinterested in marriage.
Shannon: That opening scene was harrowing for sure, but I’m glad the author chose to tackle sexual assault. It’s so pervasive in the real world, and I found her handling of it to be sensitive and on point. I also think you make a great point about the way the assault affected her views on sex and marriage. What did you think of the romance? Did the pairing work for you?
Alex: Taken as a whole, it worked for me. Ms. Byrne managed to address the trauma in Alexandra’s past, while still developing a strong romance in a way that felt natural. The only moment that bothered me was when Alexandra proposed marriage to Piers after knowing him for only a few days. Given her history, it came as a bit of a surprise that she could jump in so fast. How did that scene feel to you?
Shannon: It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. Fortunately, the author made it easy for me to believe in Alexandra’s reasons for wanting to get married, so it wasn’t quite as jarring to me as it otherwise might have been. Alexandra and Piers aren’t what I’d call a conventional couple, but I found myself pretty invested in their relationship before too long.
Alex: The mystery plot running through the story was a bit different, as it’s not clear if the violence is directed at Alexandra or Piers. What did you think of the way it was resolved in the end?
Shannon: The mystery portion of the plot was probably my least favorite thing about the entire novel. Parts of it felt quite contrived, and I found it difficult to take the danger seriously. The resolution wasn’t terrible, but neither did I find it compelling.
Alex: Exactly. It felt like more of a distraction and occasional plot device than a gripping mystery, and I was somewhat dissatisfied by the resolution. The villain was too one-dimensional, particularly in comparison to other characters.
Shannon: It struck me as kind of odd that the villain was so flat. I mean, Byrne has written some fantastic villains and antiheroes in her previous books so I was expecting more here.
Now that we’ve talked about a part of the book that didn’t work all that well for us, I’d like to touch on a plot element that really shone: the relationship between Alexandra and her friends. I love books featuring strong female friendships, and Ms. Byrne did a fantastic job bringing the friendships in this book to life.
Alex: I definitely agree that that was a high point for this book. I liked the juxtaposition of two of Alexandra’s strongest relationships coming from one of the worst moments of her life. It’s clear that they have continued to support each other in the years since that moment, and I think those friendships are one of the main reasons Alexandra was able to move on.
Shannon: I totally agree. Life would have been a lot harder for our heroine had she not been gifted with such supportive friends.
This turned out to be a difficult book for me to grade. Parts of it were spectacular, but the mystery was pretty distracting at times. Still, I enjoyed the romance, and I’m eager to get my hands on future installments in the series, so I think I’m going to have to go with a B. How about you?
Alex: It’s a B from me, too, edging toward a B+. While I didn’t like the distracting mystery plot and momentary off-note in Alexandra and Piers’ relationship, there were a lot of other things to enjoy, and I would certainly recommend it.