Hello, friends! I’ve been out of commission it feels like the entire month of June. And I hate it. 🙃 I’ve been sick with COVID since the 14th but am slowly getting on the mend. (Un)surprisingly, I’ve not done anything, including much reading. However, I did manage to devour a romance novel that had been sitting on my night stand for literal weeks, waiting for me to read it: Dare to Be a Duchess by Sapha Bhog.
Read below for my thoughts!
Publisher: Entangled Publishing | Release Date: Feb. 2021 | Pages: 297
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Historical Romance | Format: Paperback | Source: Gift
He’s a powerful duke. She’s his uncle’s ward. They have forever been at war, until one night, one masquerade, and one kiss…
Lara Ramsay is no stranger to scandal. As the orphaned daughter of a British colonel and his beloved Indian wife, whispers follow her everywhere. Not even the protection of the formidable Duke of Wolverton, a man she can’t stand, keeps the gossips at bay.
The audacious Lara has driven Tristan Wentworth, The Duke of Wolverton, to distraction since the day his uncle took her in—and he’s quite certain doing so is her favorite pastime. After catching her and his younger sister at a salacious masquerade, he’s had enough scandal and issues a marriage ultimatum: find a husband within six months, or one will be chosen for her.
Unfortunately, no one in the ton appeals to her. Except, perhaps, the duke himself. The battle of wills has only just begun, and when Lara kisses him, their fate is sealed.
Sometimes even the most proper duke needs to break the rules to win the heart of the woman he loves…
On the Page
- Emotional abuse
- Murder (attempted)
- Racism and racial slurs
- Verbal abuse
- Arranged marriage (threatened)
- Gambling addiction
- Rape (threatened only)
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Lara and her friendships: This might have been my favorite element. I loved Lara’s relationship with her two friends, Camille and Anne. It was super believable and felt authentic and enjoyable, bringing out Lara’s spark quite well.
- Chemistry: If you read my last romance review, you’ll know that lack of chemistry makes it hard for me to enjoy something labeled a romance. I did not feel that lack here!
- Doesn’t shy away from addressing racism in that era: Our female lead, Lara, is mixed race, with an English father and Indian mother. Yet she isn’t ashamed of her heritage, despite dealing with a lot of verbal abuse from a ton. I’m very glad this book didn’t just ignore that and it made Wolf confront his own opinions and ideas, both of himself and the ton at large.
- Writing weak in places: When I first started this book, I thought the first third had some really weak writing that struggled to captivate me. It felt stilted and unrealistic. I’m glad that my inability to sleep thanks to COVID kept me reading, as it definitely gets better as the book progresses!
- Ending felt super rushed: That being said, there is so much packed in the last 50 pages. I would have liked it to have room to breathe a bit!
Dare to Be A Duchess by Sapha Bhog was an enjoyable way to spend isolation when I couldn’t sleep. Despite the slow start and questionable writing at times, I read this in one sitting and then immediately checked to see if there were more books in the series. (Spoiler: there will be!) So, if that isn’t a sign of a book that redeemed itself by the end, I don’t want what is. This will not be my last book by Bhog, that’s for certain!