Say Yes to the Duke
I’ve read a couple books by Kieran Kramer before, and the one thing I’ve noticed she always, always packs in, is melodrama. As someone who enjoys romance novels, such theatrics will ever be a part of my reading life. I think that as long as I’m prepared, as I was when I opened this book, dramatics really aren’t a big deal. In fact, if they’re done the right way they can be fairly amusing.
Janice Sherwood is on the shelf. After two Seasons in London none of her suitors have come up to scratch, so her parents are sending her on a little vacation, ostensibly to visit the Dowager Duchess of Halsey. If said vacation just happens to be at the Duke of Halsey’s estate, where the extremely eligible duke himself is currently in residence….well, that’s pure luck, and Janice ought to capitalize on it.
Unfortunately, Janice is more excited about the duke’s groom, Luke Callahan, than she is Halsey himself. Halsey is a cold fish who currently has three mistresses floating around his estate. Janice, innocent that she is, can’t quite understand why the girls have been in residence for so long, but she does know that she’s not really interested in finding out. Luke is much more appealing, as he shows her the new kittens being born in the stable and distracts her with kisses at every opportunity.
However, there’s more going on at this country estate than meets the eye. The dowager, who Janice visits regularly, has decided that Janice ought to marry her grandson, the duke. She tells Janice a little secret—that Halsey will surely marry anyone who summons up the courage to say “No” to him. A skeptical Janice decides she might as well experiment with this idea, and suddenly finds herself with two men after her. Two men who offer to make her a duchess, in fact, since apparently Luke is actually the legitimate heir to the dukedom.
You see, Luke’s father was the elder brother of the current Halsey’s, and as such ought to have become the duke. Unfortunately, he was killed by his younger brother before that could ever come to pass. Luke’s mother, fearing for her life and that of her unborn child, went into hiding. Now that Luke is thirty years old, he’s been told the secret of his birth, which is why he’s at the duke’s estate, searching for the journal that will prove him the legitimate heir to the duchy….
It gets confusing. Or it does when explained in one paragraph. Spread out through the course of a book, this story of betrayal and secret dukes is actually understandable, if a bit unrealistic.
However, I think that’s what I liked about this book. As I said, I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be one of the most serious, realistic books I’d ever read. So I sat back and enjoyed it. Other people might have had trouble accepting the fact that the dowager duchess has a cold that changes her personality every time she sneezes—one sneeze will put her in her right mind, the next will have her thinking she’s the Queen of England. I just laughed at the absurdity of it. Most of the characters were fun, and since Janice was traveling without her family, I was spared the classic meet-the-awesome-relatives-who-will-soon-have-their-own-books ritual.
Honestly, if it weren’t for Luke’s deficiencies, I might have given this book a B or even a B+. Unfortunately, Janice’s hero lacks a little substance. He’s the secret duke, he’s bossy, and he’s oh so sexy….but what else? Janice had depth. She has a low opinion of herself at the beginning of the book, but gains a lot of confidence as she repeatedly stands up to the (fake) Duke of Halsey. She is an island of sanity within the melodramatic pages of Say Yes to the Duke. This story would not have been half as good without Janice, and it would have been twice as good if Luke was a hero worthy of her.