My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Once Upon a Duke is an early 1800s romance story of a widowed lady, Serena, and a rakish duke, Geoffrey. The two engage in flirtations immediately and things heat up quickly from there. Early on Geoffrey suggests that Serena should become his mistress, but she wants love and commitment after her disastrous first marriage.
This book had an interesting plot with two major drawbacks: I didn’t feel much emotional attachment to the characters, and there was an overwhelming amount of dialogue–especially dialogue centered around exposition. Don’t get me wrong, dialogue is great and occasional exposition is necessary, but often actions (even in books) speak much louder than words. It’s the cardinal rule of writing: show, don’t tell.
Historical touches are woven in neatly throughout the book. Dialogue, clothing, social attitudes, and the homes felt authentic. Sandra Masters definitely did her research into this time period.
Once Upon a Duke was still a fairly quick read for me, but it wasn’t until the last 30% of the the book that I really felt that the story had deeper substance. At this point the characters finally stop bantering between steamy love scenes, and some real action begins.
Despite my dialogue comments, Serena and Geoffrey’s journey to their HEA was intriguing and kept me entertained for hours.
I received a complementary copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback.