The Winter Duke
It’s been a long time since I have read such a light and inconsequential traditional Regency like The Winter Duke. The trouble is, Bergin’s story is not a comedy. It lacks an interesting story, and the characters were phantoms. I could not muster any positive feelings toward the book at all.
Lydia Grenville is a beautiful young woman whose family are wealthy landed gentry. She has had a Season in London where she received several offers, but she turned them all down since she did not like, let alone love, any of her suitors. Lydia is uncomfortable with her single state and thinks all the neighbors rather look down on her, so she plans a second Season. In the meantime, she visits with her friend Fanny, a ward of the Duke of Winterbourne.
John Penhope is the new Duke of Winterborne, the previous one having been killed in a riding accident. John is a scholarly man with his head filled with nothing but Greek history. He does not want to be a duke, and is bored to tears with the estate matters. If it weren’t for the estate manager, I have no doubt the tenants would all starve.
One day, John goes to the woods to walk and muse about Alexander the Great. He runs into Lydia – who has gone there to sketch – and they talk. She thinks he’s the estate manager, and is hurt when she runs into him at a party. But she doesn’t hold a grudge.
Well, I can sum up the rest of the book by saying that John and Lydia fall in love, then there’s a conflict that comes out of the woodwork, it’s solved very quickly and they live happily ever after.
And that’s a good thing since I wouldn’t want them to end up with anyone else. Frankly, these two moonbeams deserve each other. I love an intelligent, scholarly hero, but he has to have some common sense, a trait that John does not display. He walks around with his head so far in the clouds that the entire estate could fall to pieces and he would not notice. Also, he is such a whiner – oh woe, I am the Duke and I have all these nasty responsibilities and I’m not interested in them at all! Well cry me a river, Your Grace.
Lydia was slightly more likable, although she is one of those chatty, friendly types who want to be buddies with her maid, something that a real Regency miss would not do, nor a maid allow. Lydia is a sensible young woman for the most part and I get the feeling she will have to run things in the future.
If I wanted to introduce a novice to the wonderful reading experience that a well-written traditional Regency Romance can provide, I have a shelf full of them, ranging in tone from light comedies, to dark, intense character studies. This book will not be on that shelf.