Series: At the Kingsborough Ball

Guest Review: The Trouble With Being a Duke by Sophie Barnes

Posted June 26, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review:  The Trouble With Being a Duke by Sophie BarnesReviewer: Judith
The Trouble With Being a Duke (At the Kingsborough Ball, #1) by Sophie Barnes
Series: At the Kingsborough Ball #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 27th 2013
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 371
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Sometimes happily ever after…

Anthony Hurst, Duke of Kingsborough knows the time has come for him to produce an heir. But first he must find a bride. When he meets the most exquisite woman at his masquerade ball, he thinks his search is over…until the breathtaking beauty runs off. With few clues other than her figure, her scent, and the memory of her kiss, Anthony must find his mystery lady.

…needs a little bit of help.

Isabella Chilcott can scarcely believe it: she is finally at the Kingsborough Ball. As a child, she dreamed of dancing a waltz here and now, thanks to a gorgeous gown she’s found in the attic, Isabella is living her fairytale fantasy. And she’s waltzing with the Duke of Kingsborough himself! But she must escape before he discovers her secrets…for she is not who she pretends to be, and falling in love with Prince Charming is the last thing she can allow herself to do…

The Spirit of Cinderella lives in this delightful and engaging historical romance, not withstanding the fact that there is a back story that is not readily apparent and one that complicates matters far more than the main characters realize at first.  It that greater depth that doesn’t emerge until later in the story and until then, it can be a rather disappointing tale for some readers.  I was fascinated with the heroine, a woman who was determined that she would please her family and felt it her bounden duty to secure their social and financial future.  She was willing to go through with a vastly boring and singularly unpleasant betrothal arranged by her parents to her father’s superior in order to see this through.  Yet within her maidenly breast beat the heart of a rebel and it is that rebellious spirit that peaks out repeatedly throughout the story.

The hero is a pedantic and predictable aristocrat who has come to the time in his life when a wife is needed for sons to secure the lineage of his title.  (yawn) Anthony seemed like a very nice man and wanted to please his family as well.  He was especially concerned about the lingering depression of his widowed mother, and who cannot love a man who really cares about his mother?!  Yet he was not a risk taker by any means except at the Kingsborough Ball, an event that he resurrected in order to bring his mom out of her persistent funk.  It worked so well that all of their community wanted to be there, including Isabella.  However, Bella’s mother, a woman born into the aristocracy, would have none of it.  So Isabella did the next best thing:  she sneaked out, wearing a gown she discovered surreptitiously in the attic, and went to the ball.  No pumpkin coach and no miracle footmen or horses.  Just walking quietly and in the shadows of the night until she simply appeared.  And there before his eyes, is the woman who claims his interest, seduces his libido, and begins the slow but sure abduction of his heart.   One small problem, however.  No name, no clues as to her identity, and no way to find out.  Only the fact that her gown is recognized by an older couple as having once belonged to their daughter who had been missing and presumed dead for decades.  NOW the story is heating up.

This is a delicious romp through the society of Britain that is not necessarily lodged in London and whose social functions don’t revolve around Almack’s and the royal palaces.  Here you have a distant aristocracy, just as hide-bound but definitely bringing a different sense about it into the story.  You also have a fiance that is narcissistic and whose only concern with Isabella is as a trophy who can add to his social and financial sheen.  As all the players take their places and the story unfolds, there are moments of real fun and some very definite sizzle;  there are also moments when the reader would really like to wham some of the characters upside their heads with a dough roller.  Suffice it so say that this is a far more complicated novel than it first appears.  It is one of those stories that keeps on gaining depth and breadth as it moves along.  I know I was certainly loathe to put it down.

I have not read much from this author but I was impressed with her ability to put a very good story together.  I think the story stalled in places and I found that surprising as I have the impression that the author could have found a way–I don’t personally know how–to prevent the story from lagging.  Yet all in all I found the book to be entertaining and enjoyed the experience.

I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


Tagged: , , , , , ,