My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Always Be My Duchess is a humorous historical romance by Amalie Howard. The ebook version is 368 pages. We follow our two characters with alternating third-person points-of-view. Think Pretty Woman/Pygmalion meets Bridgerton but with more steam and fewer love triangles.
Lysander Blackstone, the Duke of Montcroix, keeps his emotions buried and is laser focused on increasing his coffers. While trying to confirm a new business deal, he realizes that he needs to appear a little less heartless to solidify the contract.
Geneviève Valery was born to gentry but after falling on hard times she leaned into her hobby of ballet to keep her family going. After she refuses to become a mistress for a wealthy patron, he blackballs her from all of the ballet companies in several countries. When she runs into a drunk Lysander, she accidentally saves her life and he realizes she may be his best bet in his search for a fake fiancée.
This is very insta-lust and that usually turns me off of romances. But once we get past the initial hiring for fake dating, our characters learn a lot more about each other and the story turns into more of a slow-burn with lots of longing.
I really enjoyed the hero’s friend group! I’m excited that this book is the first in a series, because I’m excited to read more about these interesting people. They’re all a bit not typical, with one woman being a self-described spinster, one a fashion designer, and one likes animals more than people.
As a music-focused person myself, I really appreciated how many different arts are included in this book. Our hero plays piano and cello and is a general patron to the arts (as he loved attending various performances with his mother before her death) and our heroine is a ballerina.
Tropes in this book include: Victorian England, instant attraction, strangers to lovers, fake dating, opposites attract, grumpy/sunshine, neurodivergent hero, damaged hero, class difference, virgin heroine
CW: loss of parent(s), implied child abuse experienced in the past, ableism, violence, fertility troubles (w/happy ending)
Special thanks to Forever, Grand Central Publishing, and NetGalley for providing an eGalley of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
Always Be My Duchess is a humorous historical romance by Amalie Howard (4/5 stars)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars