Soliman, Wendy. Of Dukes and Deceptions (2011). 285 Pages.* Carina Press. $3.82**
When Nicholas Buchanan, the Duke of Dorchester, accepts an invitation to visit a country stud farm, he counters his boredom by striking a wager with his henchman that he’ll bed the poor relation, Alicia Woodley, before the end of his stay. But he reckons without Alicia’s disdain. She’s disgusted by Nick’s cavalier attitude, unimpressed by his grandeur and wants as little as possible to do with him.
Between her newfound role as family charity case and fending off the attentions of both her clueless cousin and the arrogant Nicholas, Alicia Woodley has quite enough to contend with…but when her life is endangered, quite possibly from those closest to her, surprisingly it is Nicholas who seems determined to ensure her safety. As they conspire to uncover secrets that the family wants hidden at all costs, they discover a passion that surpasses all obstacles.
Cambridgeshire, England, 1820
The narrow village streets were crammed solid. Various animals and every sort of conveyance competed for the limited space. Stallholders selling anything from fresh produce to bolts of material and edible delicacies had set themselves up wherever they could find the room. Females engaged in the oldest profession were openly plying their trade, oblivious to the noise and lack of privacy. Fleet-footed children readied themselves to relieve the unwary of their valuables.
The jaded rake is a staple of Regency romance. He is typically aristocracy of some sort, and the lady in question may come from a background which would typically disqualify her as a potential bride. In this case, our rake is a Duke, and our lady is a charity case, a poor cousin thrust upon her relations. She is, of course, uninterested in him or his titles, which turns her into exactly the challenge he’s been looking for.
The plot gets more complicated, but not by much. Someone’s trying to harm Alicia, but it’s not difficult to put two-and-two together in this case. I’m afraid I had figured it out long before the characters had, and I’m not known for being a quick mystery solver.
Alicia is quite a lady. She’s smart, and has had involvement in her family’s stud farm– until her uncle banned her further involvement– has a way with animals– and runs an animal hospital– is charitable– and is an all-around do-gooder. It’s hard to dislike Alicia as a person, but as a character she’s not my favorite.
In a lot of ways, this book is about Nicholas learning that sometimes, being a duke isn’t enough to make people like you. The parts of the book which aren’t about Nick’s discovery are largely about Alicia, and the fact that someone is trying to kill her.
It was a fun read, and I spent a lot of time excitedly waiting for the characters to catch up and figure out what was going on, and who was trying to hurt Alicia, and why. It was also fun watching Alicia maintain her resolve against Nicholas, who found her resistance so very novel that he couldn’t help but be interested. It was like watching The Rules in action.
Overall, I feel it was a good book, and an enjoyable, entertaining read. I’m glad I got a chance to read it, even if it did take me months to turn my thoughts into words.*** It earns a 3.5/5; I enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t have re-read it except for review purposes.
* The book is 71,200 words, which (at 250 words/page) comes to about 285 pages.
** Disclosure: I received my copy free via Netgalley.
*** I read it in March, and am just now finishing the review. (I had to re-read it to make sure I wasn’t too off-base.)
If you’re interested in buying a copy of this book, please consider using the following link: Of Dukes and Deceptions