To the Duke, With Love

Amelia Grey

To the Duke, With Love is the second book in Amelia Grey’s Rakes of St. James series and is both my first – and probably last – book by this author.  This is wallpaper historical romance by numbers, and I suppose the alarm bells should really have started ringing when I realised that the hero – who is an English duke – is named Sloane.  Which is such a common name for an English gentleman of the nineteenth century. (Not.)

So, here’s what we’ve got.  Sloane Knox, the Duke of Hawksthorn, wants to arrange a suitable match for his younger sister Adele before she makes her début, because a decade ago, he and two of his friends played a prank on that year’s crop of debutantes and now he fears someone will use Adele in order to exact retribution.  Hawk believes he has found the perfect mate for Adele in one Mr. Paxton Quick, a young, handsome and good-natured gentleman who lives … somewhere unspecified but far from London with his older sister, Loretta.  Hawk has reached this conclusion because he has never seen Quick:

“… too deep in his cups, and he never gambles more than a handful of DOLLARS at the table.”

Well, I’m not surprised at that last bit, because how could he?  Last time I checked, in England we use ENGLISH currency, strange as that may seem.

Hawk travels to Mammoth House in… some remote location, in order to discuss the match with Quick, only to discover that he is from home, and finds himself confronting the rather scrumptious, somewhat challenging Miss Quick instead.  And so begins the mental lusting. At the ONE PERCENT mark on my Kindle:

She looked pure, sweet, and completely untouched by masculine hands.  A sudden, deep rush of desire flamed through him, and the rhythm of his heartbeat changed.

By the end of the first chapter Hawk:

… wanted her with an intensity that he hadn’t felt in a very long time.

And in the next, we’re told our heroine is all a quiver because she:

… still wasn’t sure what to make of the new, startling, and unexplained feelings that had swept over her at the sight of him.  She wasn’t out of breath, yet she was breathless. She wasn’t dizzy, yet she felt light-headed. She wasn’t hungry, yet looking at him caused a ravenous appetite to rise up within her.”

For god’s sake, someone get the woman a sandwich!

In a nutshell, the plot revolves around the fact that Loretta doesn’t want her brother to be forced or coerced into a marriage against his will, as almost happened to her when their uncle and guardian arranged for her to marry someone she didn’t love.  Said uncle, the Earl of Switchingham, was – not surprisingly – somewhat miffed when Loretta didn’t turn up at the wedding, and banished her to the somewhat ramshackle Mammoth House in the back of beyond – but not before he’d forced her to make a holy vow – in church – never to marry.  The banishment wasn’t extended to her brother, although he loyally opted to make his home with Loretta, but Quick travels to London frequently – which is how Hawk knows him – and Loretta lives quietly, accepting her exclusion from society even as she regrets missing out on the sort of life she could – and should – have had.

That is basically it.  Hawk and Loretta butt heads (and other body parts, eventually) in a lot of exchanges that are lacking in either humour or wit, and there is hardly any chemistry between them whatsoever.  She’s beautiful and stands up to him, he’s handsome and likes that she challenges him and they each fancy what they see, but there’s nothing beyond the insta-lust, and I couldn’t understand what either of them saw in the other beyond outward appearances.  And then there’s the dialogue in the love scenes, which made me cringe:

On sweeping Loretta into his arms (in chapter four, no less) Hawk asks her of her former suitor:

“Did he hold you possessively like this and make you feel as if you were someone too precious to let go?”

“Did his lips hover longingly just above yours as mine are now, just waiting for you to invite him to take a taste of you?”

Did I just laugh my head off at such terrible pick-up lines?

The author attempts to inject some drama into the story by means of a sub-plot featuring a boy from the streets named Farley, whom we first meet when he knocks at the door of Loretta’s house begging for scraps – but quite honestly, I’m not sure what the point of it was, unless it was to show that lepoards rarely change their spots.  And I almost hurt my head with all the eyerolling at Loretta’s insistence on keeping to her vow of chastity – and later the manner in which Hawk comes up with a way round it so they can get married and live happily ever after.  Paxton is bland, Adele is a ninny…  and the whole book was an utter slog from start to finish.

Readers, here’s something to YOU, with love.  If you want an entertaining read, take my word for it when I tell you that this isn’t it.  There are plenty of GOOD books out there for you to read, and I humbly suggest you pick up one of those instead.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Caz Owens

Grade :     D

Sensuality :      Warm

Book Type :     

Review Tags :     


  1. Robin December 6, 2017 at 11:45 am - Reply

    She “looked” untouched by masculine hands? *sob* *cringe* That isn’t even logical.

    Also, major oops about the dollars. I think if I were that author, or editor, or publisher I’d want to hide in my bedclothes and never come out. No, it’s not an easy mistake to make.

    • Caz Owens
      Caz Owens December 6, 2017 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      I rolled my eyes SO HARD at that “untouched” comment…

      And I can’t believe that cock up got through the editing (or non-editing) process. Actually, though, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. This author has written a lot of UK set HR and should have known better.

  2. Marian Perera December 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Any hint of “this woman is innocent and special and perfect because I get to boldly go where no other man has gone before” from the hero, and I’m not interested.

    • Caz Owens
      Caz Owens December 6, 2017 at 7:10 pm - Reply

      *nods* Okay, so there’s no denying this is set at a time that prized virginity. But still – she “looked” untouched? Did she have a sign around her neck or something?

      • Marian Perera December 7, 2017 at 4:51 pm - Reply

        It’s also set in a time with racism, classism, corporal punishment for children, etc, but heroes usually ignore all of those, so I want them to do the same with virginity. 🙂

  3. DiscoDollyDeb December 6, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    I am terribly persnickety about names in historical fiction. I’ve seen heroines named Skykar and heroes named Hawk or Slade in Regencies. Uh, no. I don’t feel confident in the writer if she doesn’t even take the trouble to give characters historically-appropriate names.

    • Caz Owens
      Caz Owens December 6, 2017 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      Oh, so am I, very picky, and for the same reason. I reviewed a book over the summer with a hero named Soren, and I’ve never forgotten the dreary slog that was Lenora Bell’s début in which the heroine was named Charlene. Or “Char” for short. (And don’t get me started on those authors who give their characters a name and promptly shorten it to something even more stupid.)

  4. AnneMarbleAAR December 6, 2017 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    If a Regency hero is named Sloane — or Hawk or Slade — then I start picturing him as a lifeguard or something. No offense meant to lifeguards because I have seen them keep people safe, help injured kids, and pull swimmers out of trouble! 🙂

    Also, the part with the heroine not showing up at her wedding sounds nuts. This isn’t a modern day romcom where the bride can simply decide not to show up. There would be so many people “in charge” of her. And the whole… vow thingie .. sounds odd, soo.

    • Caz Owens
      Caz Owens December 6, 2017 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      This isn’t a modern day romcom where the bride can simply decide not to show up.

      Exactly – this ain’t a Julia Roberts movie! The vow thing is so incredibly dumb it almost defies description. Her uncle really does force her to make a “holy” vow in front of a vicar that she will never get married. And because the vow is holy, she can never break it. There’s mention once or twice about the fact that maybe she should have entered a convent. I wish she had – then there would have been no book!

  5. Whiskeyinthejar December 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    “For god’s sake, someone get the woman a sandwich!”

    Lost it at this comment, lol. I read the first in the series and pretty much felt the same way you did about this one; the insta-lust/love was going strong.

    • LeeB. December 6, 2017 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Yes, that was my favorite! Thought the entire review was fun to read.

    • Caz Owens
      Caz Owens December 7, 2017 at 5:57 am - Reply

      Heh. I’m pleased to have given you a laugh :). I knew there had to be a reason I’ve never read this author before… I really should have remembered it before I picked up this book!

  6. Usha December 7, 2017 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Another bad book about another bad Duke. I will some time tolerate lack of historical accuracy for sake of a good story but what about statistical accuracy. Is it true, that 1 out of 2 persons was a duke in regency times and every one of them needs their story told.

    • Caz Owens
      Caz Owens December 7, 2017 at 5:59 am - Reply

      Same here. I know it’s not possible for there to be complete historical accuracy, but some authors seem to think it’s okay to ignore it altogether. Sadly, there were nothing like the number of dukes we read about in HR – then and now. I haven’t counted, but I’m sure I read somewhere it’s around forty?

      • Keira Soleore
        Keira Soleore December 7, 2017 at 10:47 pm - Reply

        According to Wikipedia:

        “In the peerage of England, the title of Duke was created 74 times. Out of those, 37 titles are now extinct, 16 titles were forfeit or surrendered, 10 were merged with the crown, and 11 are extant.”

        ONE is young (25) and unattached!!!! Rush thee and nab the Duke of Westminster..

  7. PegS December 7, 2017 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Oh gosh, I loved this review. I almost want to subject you to more terrible books just so I can watch you sputter about them!

    • Caz Owens
      Caz Owens December 8, 2017 at 6:48 am - Reply

      Hahaha! If it wasn’t for the fact I have to read the crap first, I’d be happy to splutter more!

  8. Lisa Fernandes
    Lisa Fernandes December 10, 2017 at 5:49 am - Reply

    This is why you’re my go-to for all historical inaccuracies in this genre! This is fabulous!

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