Another Duke, Another Dollar
I received an ARC of The Duke Buys a Bride by Sophie Jordan from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve read a few other books by Sophie Jordan and all have resulted in 3 star ratings, this story was no different. Her writing tends to be entertaining without being gush worthy. This is the third book in her series, The Rogue Files. I read the first in the series, While the Duke was Sleeping and enjoyed it, if only mildly, not quite enough to read the second when it came out, but I was interested enough in finding out what happened when the afore mentioned duke finally finds his duchess to give this a read.
Mild Spoilers Below
This story centers around Alyse, a farm girl who has been living as a wife in name only to a man who has found someone else he wishes to marry. They decide to part ways by manner of an old custom where a man can sell his wife to another man and then she will be married to the second man instead. They have arranged for her childhood friend to become her new husband, but on the day of the auction, he doesn’t show up. The situation is as untenable as you can imagine. Cut to the Duke of Autenberry, traveling incognito, witnessing this insane scene, unable to stop himself from speaking up, he “buys” her. As soon as they are out of the town, he makes it clear to her that he does not consider them married and asks her what she would like to do. They decide that she will accompany him on his journey to one of his estates, where he will give her a job as his housekeeper. Along the way they fall in love, fancy that, color me shocked.
The concept itself had a lot of promise. Autenberry is very angsty and broody, right up my alley. Alyse is strong and fiery. I also love a good road trip. The story just fails to take off, it never goes anywhere. Autenberry and his half brother have a contentious relationship and it feels like they are finally going to come to a resolution, but it fizzles, they never have it out. He merely admits to Alyse that he is getting over it. For all of the time that the two of them spend traveling, they don’t really seem to get to know each other, leading to the romance feeling very flat to me. I also thought it was weird that they were traveling in Scotland, in the winter, on horseback (and mule back), especially after Alyse fell ill. He could have hired a carriage, he had the money, it just seemed highly implausible that they would continue to travel that way, even for this type of book. I also had a hard time figuring out what era the book was supposed to be set in. It seemed like regency, but then Alyse briefly thinks about taking a train south, hence my confusion. If things are going to feel slightly anachronistic, at least give me some great banter. My main feeling with this book was a lack of follow through, from both the characters and the story itself. This book was amusing in the way that a hallmark movie is amusing. It’s a guilty pleasure, without much substance.
The Duke Buys a Bride releases on July 24th.
If you’re looking for a 4 or 5 star road trip story in this genre, I recommend The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean, Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase, or The Duke of Ruin by Darcy Burke.