The Duke's Perfect Wife
The Duke’s Perfect Wife is a very well written book. The characters are very vivid, the plot is intelligent, and the writing is very well done. Yet, I still didn’t enjoy it very much. The reason? Reading it was a lot of hard work.
At first, I thought that the reason that I felt like I was left out in the cold was because I hadn’t read the previous stories in the series. I had assumed that the back story that I was missing was explained in previous books. But as the story of the past that Eleanor Ramsay and Hart Mackenzie shared was revealed, very slowly, I realized that the feeling of being left out didn’t end. I still felt like I was missing the keys to the code. The book is one that you need to pay attention to and catch all the clues in order to not feel left out. I felt like I was reading a high school book report book, not a fun romance novel.
Let’s see. The back story. It took nearly one hundred pages to get all caught up and once I did? Wow, was it a depressing story. Hart and Eleanor had once been engaged. But the engagement was broken off when she found out about his mistress. Then Hart married another, but his wife and son died. His father was abusive and beat his mother to death, his brother is autistic and was put in an insane asylum because watching his father kill his mother traumatized him, and all of this happened before the book started. This story focused on Hart running for Prime Minister and Eleanor getting naked photographs of Hart (taken by the former mistress) from a mysterious messenger. Hart has some secrets and many assume he is a sexual pervert but again, that is all part of Hart’s mystery and it takes a lot of reading between the lines to figure out what Hart really is until you are well into the story.
My least favorite character was Eleanor. For a long time I couldn’t tell if she was stupid, cruel, or fearless. Perhaps she felt free enough to be all three with Hart. This is one of the few romance novels I have read in a while where there was so much back story and history between the lead couple and I don’t know if that made me uncomfortable or if it was the way it was presented. When the story begins, the couple already knew each other well and Hart admits that no one knows him like Eleanor does. Yet he is quick to point out that she doesn’t know all that much either. As a result, I felt cheated since I didn’t get to see that in their relationship, I saw the rekindling of the relationship and the way that it grew this time around, but I wanted to see the beginning. Not seeing it or knowing it until so far into the book kept me from feeling connected to the characters or invested in their story.
As I said, this book is very well written, I can’t argue that. The author’s writing is good and her characters (including the many brothers in the story) are all consistent and vividly drawn. I think that if I had read the previous books, I would have had a very different take on the story and I would have felt much more comfortable with where Eleanor and Hart were in their relationship. I have no doubt that the fans will love the story. However, for me, this book was a lot of work to read between the lines and look behind the surface to unravel the clues. Since the back story was parceled out in dribs and drabs and I didn’t know half of it until 100 pages into the book, I didn’t know enough about the characters soon enough to want to engage the effort to figure out the clues.
Fans will undoubtedly like it and that is why I am giving it a grade based on the writing and the story rather than just my personal enjoyment. The author deserves the credit for strong writing and for clearly being an expert at her craft. But for me, reading should be fun, not a chore. If an author wants me to pay attention to every detail, they need to make me care about the characters. The way to do that is to let the reader get to know the characters in the beginning. By the time this book let me know who Hart and Eleanor were, it was too late to engage me.
|Review Date:||March 20, 2012|
|Book Type:||European Historical Romance | Fantasy Romance | Historical Romance|
|Review Tags:||Mackenzie Family series|