The Duke’s Embrace is the seventh book in Erica Ridley’s 12 Dukes of Christmas series. Sébastien le Duc, one of the local blacksmiths in the town of Cressmouth, is eager to return to his home country of France now that the family debt is paid off. Eve Shelling aspires to be a journalist whose stories are more than just fluff, yet finds it hard to be taken seriously in a world ruled by men. When the le Duc men decide to sell the blacksmithy in order to fund their voyage home, Eve is right there, telling their story.
I really enjoyed Eve’s ambitions in a world that did not favor women’s independence. She’s strong-willed and pushes the boundaries, trying to grow the Cressmouth Gazette into a true newspaper, even as her father circumvents her ideas. You won’t find Eve without her bullmastiff, who seems to be enamored by the le Duc’s pig, Chef.
Sébastien is still a bit of a mystery to me even with him being a point of view character. It might be that his current concerns were so limited in scope that we didn’t get a deep dive into who he is as a person. I did enjoy that we got both de Luc brothers interacting often in this story, especially as Lucien was quite a mystery after book six.
The Duke’s Embrace sheds a bit of the overly-witty banter found in the 12 Dukes series, which is a refreshing change and kept me more engaged in the story. It was a bit surprising that no one specifically named Sébastien as a “duke,” breaking the consistency from previous books in the series (though book six points out that all three le Duc siblings are “dukes” of Cressmouth). The village remains as charming as ever, regardless, though we see less of its inhabitants this time around.
The 12 Dukes books are all fast reads, but this one in particular would have benefited from a bit more development with their relationship. I still wasn’t sure why the couple fell for each other by the end, other than attraction. The conflict between the two was also too quickly resolved, as if both were willing to just forget the hurtful words they tossed around without at least talking out their problems.
This is a fun read that can be easily squeezed into a busy holiday week. What excites me the most about The Duke’s Embrace is the anticipation it creates for Lucien’s story, which will come in book eight.
An excerpt from The Duke’s Embrace: Continue reading “Review: The Duke’s Embrace (with excerpt)”