Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Review: Never a Duke by Grace Burrowes

A proper lady must choose between society or the untitled gentleman who has stolen her heart in this captivating Regency romance perfect for fans of Bridgerton.


Series: Rogues to Riches #7
Publication date: April 26, 2022
Published by: Forever Romance
Genre: historical romance

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Despite having humble origins and a criminal past, Ned Wentworth has learned to dress, waltz, and express himself as elegantly as any lordling. When Lady Rosalind Kinwood’s maid goes missing, her ladyship turns to Ned, precisely because he still has friends in low places and skills no titled dandy would ever acquire, much less admit he possesses.

Rosalind is too opinionated and too intelligent, and has frequently suffered judgment at polite society’s hands. In the quietly observant Ned Wentworth, she finds a man who actually listens to her and who respects her for her outspokenness. As the search for the missing maids grow more perilous, Rosalind and Ned will have to risk everything—including their hearts—if they are to share the happily ever after that Mayfair’s matchmakers have begrudged them both.

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Praise for Grace Burrowes:

Grace Burrowes is terrific!-- "Julia Quinn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Bridgerton series"

Readers will root for the fierce, resolute Constance and passionate Robert as they bond over their shared pasts and mutual determination to overcome adversity and stigma. Burrowes takes her series to new heights with this tender, turbulent romance.-- "Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Truth About Dukes"

The flawed, realistic characters and their witty, flirtatious banter make for an immersive romance. Series fans will be delighted.-- "Publishers Weekly on How to Catch a Duke"


Grace Burrowes started writing as an antidote to empty nest and soon found it an antidote to life in general. She is the sixth out of seven children, raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life she spent a lot of time reading romance novels and practicing the piano. Her first career was as a technical writer and editor in the Washington, DC, area, a busy job that nonetheless left enough time to read a lot of romance novels.

It also left enough time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside.

While reading yet still more romance novels, Grace opened her own law practice, acquired a master's degree in Conflict Transformation (she had a teenage daughter by then) and started thinking about writing.... romance novels. This aim was realized when Beloved Offspring struck out into the Big World a few years ago. ("Mom, why doesn't anybody tell you being a grown-up is hard?")

Grace eventually got up the courage to start pitching her manuscripts to agents and editors. The query letter that resulted in "the call" started out: "I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing--and if that doesn't narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought." (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)

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Never a Duke (Rogues to Riches, #7)Never a Duke by Grace Burrowes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been wanting to read a Grace Burrowes book for a long time now, so when I saw her latest release up for request, I decided it was finally time to acquaint myself with her work. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have picked this particular book, but I'm still glad I gave it a go. My biggest mistake was picking the last book in a seven book series. It's not unheard of to read books out of order, but in this particular case it was detrimental to my reading enjoyment. The previous couples had a strong presence in the plot because of the close family dynamic, and at times I felt a little lost when trying to identify everyone and their backstories. I don't feel as if I could fully immerse myself because of that feeling of always trying to catch up. That being said, when the focus was solely on Ned and Rosalind, I enjoyed their sweet romance.

Ned Wentworth is like an adopted family member to the Wentworths. He was orphaned at a young age, lost his only brother, and was sent to prison where he met a dismal fate. Luckily, his life was turned around in the loving fold of the Wentworth family when they saved him, took him in, and gave him a job. They treat him not as an employee, but as one of their own. If anyone dares to besmirch his character, they protect him with passion and love. Of course, he is never fully accepted in their "world" because he wasn't born into it. Despite that, he has learned to excel when it comes to managing the family banking business. He knows all of the dirt on all of the elite families and uses the information to his advantage. He's managed to flourish financially by making smart investments as well as helping the less unfortunate to make a living for himself. His charitable work with widows shows that even though he's achieved the impossible feat of climbing in society, he hasn't forgotten where he came from. He doesn't put on airs or look down his nose at anyone. I loved Ned's humbleness and giving heart. He loves the Wentworths fiercely and puts up with their meddling and (at times) overbearing coddling.

From my point of view as a new reader, I couldn't quite grasp the relationship he had with the family. Although they loved him very much, I found it strange that some seemed to almost resent the fact that he was pulling away from slaving at the bank and finding love. Everyone else had found love and happiness in marriage, and yet, there were discussions over Ned doing the same. As if some found it hard to accept that he would want to leave work to go on a date and start living a more balanced life like them. Then there was the way that they treated him like a child who was coming of age and "leaving the nest" so to speak. I started to wonder how old this man was because you get the feeling that he's a teenager just coming into manhood. That can't be right though, can it? This is just a personal issue because I'm coming into the series at the end, but I had to mention it for those readers who may be thinking of doing the same.

Lady Rosalind was an intelligent heroine whose spirit was being stifled by her family and the nobility. She's shunned and scorned pretty much by everyone which leads her to live a very lonely life. Her brothers are worthless wastes of space, her father uses her as a pawn to con his way out of his debts and then promptly ignores her afterwards. She's bullied by her peers because of her outspokenness and a stuttering problem she had as a child. So when her ladies maids start to disappear she doesn't have any friends or family to confide in. She turns to Ned because she feels as if he may have connections from his youth that may help in gaining information on the women's disappearances. She couldn't have chosen a better person to turn to, because Ned has a savior complex. I say that like it's a bad thing, but he truly has a heart of gold. Ned feels compelled to help the missing women and does everything in his power to help hunt them down before they're gone forever.

The mystery/suspense element was something a little bit different than what you typically find in historical romance. I must admit, I'm not really a huge fan of mystery in my books, but I felt that it didn't overwhelm the central romance of the story which was a good thing for me. I believed in their feelings of love when they started to grow because I understood it. Grace Burrowes spends a significant time delving into each person's personality and why they were drawn to one another. Rosalind isn't used to people valuing her as a person or being genuinely interested in her frank opinions. Ned is the first person who sees both her inner and exterior beauty and isn't afraid to tell her.

    He kissed her gloved fingers, and some the bleakness left his eyes. 
"You are a marvel, Rosalind Kinwood. A blazing, beautiful marvel."

Not only was he not turned off by her candor, he admired the fact that she wasn't like all of the other self-absorbed, vapid women of the aristocracy. His only fear was that he wasn't good enough for her. He may have close ties with Dukes and their families, but her snobbish father could never approve of a man without a lofty name. His hopes of courting her seemed doomed from the start. They both must find a way to overcome opposition to their match once they set their hearts on each other. Ned does get discouraged at one point, but Rosalind quickly sets him straight. She isn't one to go cry in a corner when faced with a challenge and I think that's exactly what makes them such a great pair.

My only other issue was the third person POV. It won't be a struggle for many others, but personally I enjoy first person POV the most as it's the easiest to engage with for me. I did struggle just a little bit in the beginning getting used to the POV and writing style, but after I got in my groove I ended up enjoying the story for the most part. I think if I had been familiar with the earlier books and more acquainted with past characters' nuances, I could have rated this one much higher. So if you're already a fan of the series and enjoy an element of mystery, this could be the perfect book for you.



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