Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review: Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle

Publication date: April 30, 2019
Published by: Avon Romance
Genre: historical romance

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Self-made man Aidan Iverson has seen more closed doors in his thirty years than he’s ever cared to count. As a member of the elite Duke’s Den, he has all the money he could possibly need, but the one thing he can’t purchase is true power. If roguish Aidan can’t buy his way into society’s hallowed halls, he’ll resort to a more extreme measure: marriage.

Brought up to be a proper lady, the only thing Diana Ashby desires is to be left alone to the creation of her own devices. But when her dreams are crushed, she must find another way to secure the future of her invention. Knowing his desire to enter her world, Diana strikes a deal to arrange Aidan’s marriage to the perfect lady—as long as that lady isn’t her. She doesn’t need any distractions from her work, particularly of the sinfully handsome variety.

As Diana and Aidan set out to find him an aristocratic match, neither are prepared for the passion that ignites between them or the love they can’t ignore.

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Praise for Anything But a Duke:

“Christy Carlyle writes poignant, genuine characters who will melt your heart and keep you turning pages long past your bedtime.”
- Kelly Bowen, New York Times bestselling author

“I absolutely adore Christy Carlyle!”
- Lorraine Heath, New York Times bestselling author

“Carlyle inventively incorporates a Victorian riff on the concept of Shark Tank as well as the hero’s hunt for his own past into the engaging plot of the second quirkily different and splendidly sexy addition to her Duke’s Den series.”
- Booklist

“In Carlyle’s memorable second Duke’s Den Victorian romance, a budding scientist and a wealthy businessman discover they are a perfect match. Fans of historical romance with strong, intelligent heroines will adore this novel, in which emotionally vulnerable, highly motivated characters complete the sensuous story.”
- Publishers Weekly

“Mature, interesting, and romantic protagonists elevate a familiar story.”
- Kirkus Reviews


Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

You can find her on:
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Anything But a Duke (Duke's Den, #2)Anything But a Duke by Christy Carlyle
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

After reading and loving A Duke Changes Everything, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the second book in the series. The Duke's Den series revolves around three friends who own a gambling club that the nobility and the lower class both frequent. Aidan is one third owner, and it was with his sharp instincts in investments as well as skill in profiting at gambling that gave them the financial means to build their empire. At the club they are respected and sometimes feared, but there's one aspect in his business ventures that Aidan can't seem to breach and conquer. His humble beginnings and lack of "breeding" is a handicap that only marriage to a noblewoman will solve.

    There would always be a disparity. No matter how much money he earned. No matter how many devices he funded. No matter how many London men of business spoke his name with a mix of fear and reverence.

After getting denied permission to participate in an industrial exhibition that he's set his heart on, he vows to obtain a fiancé that will give him a golden ticket into whatever door he knocks on. So why is it that he can't seem to stop thinking about a woman who is wrong for him in every logical way? A woman he's struck a bargain with to find him a willing bride in exchange for investing in her invention?

Diana Ashby is an unconventional woman of the time. She spends all of her time in her lab with her inventions, and hasn't the slightest interest in the marriage mart. Not even when finding a rich husband could drag their family out of poverty where her father left them. She's convinced that she will succeed in selling one of her ideas, if only her mother will give her the time to make it happen. Aidan is her last chance to make a success of herself before she's forced to give up her dreams and passion for creating. Diana is a woman who leads with her head, not her heart. She's not one for silly day dreams of happily ever after, or allowing herself to be guided by impulses of the moment.

    “Poets tell of love. Novelists write characters who fall far too readily. But I don’t have time for reading poetry or novels.” Diana smiled, but didn’t meet her friend’s gaze. “I prefer to make decisions based on what’s rational. On what I can see and touch and calculate.”

She was also stubborn to a fault and single minded in her pursuit of personal goals. In that way she was much like Aidan. Their deal should have given both of them everything they could have ever wanted. But as she introduces him to a few of her friends she becomes increasingly uncomfortable thinking about him finding a match in another woman. For once in her life she's beginning to feel driven by emotion and wanted in a way that she's never experienced before. Seen and appreciated for who she truly is rather than an eccentric who doesn't fit into the mold that society wants to put her in. Aidan too, is struggling with accepting his attraction for someone who wants nothing to do with marriage. Once he accepts the reality of his altered feelings, the challenge of winning Diana is his new end game. And nothing will stand in his way.

    All he truly wanted was to find a way to have her in his life every day and his bed every night. His ambition, his hunger for success—none of that was a shadow of how much he wanted Diana.

There is also a subplot that ties into the overall conflict. Aidan is desperate to find news of his mother and sister. To finally find out what happened to them when he lost contact with them as a child. The need to know if they are all right, to learn his father's identity and put the mysteries of the past at rest is overwhelming.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but I found it to be a little slow in the first third of the story. I struggled to get completely invested in the couple's romance which was a pretty slow burn, and didn't feel the same excitement I did for the first couple. But in general, I thought it was a good story. Aidan's pursuit of her in the end was wonderful to see. She had a hard time relinquishing the idea of what she thought they both needed so he had his work cut out for him in changing her mind.

Though this wasn't a smash hit for me like the previous book, there was still plenty to enjoy. Fans of a light historical romance with strong, unconventional heroines will find what they're looking for here. It is not necessary to read book one, as these are all easily read as standalones. I encourage you to give it a shot.



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